Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Film From the Field House: How the 49ers Can Rebound to Beat the Jets

Bret Rumbeck
Sep 17, 2020 at 8:00 AM


The start of the 2020 NFL season has not been kind to the San Francisco 49ers.

During the first half of the Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals, tight end George Kittle suffered a sprained knee and went into the locker room early. He finished the game but had no catches in the second half.

On September 16, 2020, the 49ers kept him out of practice and noted he would likely not practice on Thursday or Friday.

Shortly after the Kittle news, the team announced that cornerback Richard Sherman would miss three weeks due a calf strain.

Other news from the dismal week included:


It appears that the 49ers are not immune to the slings and arrows of this rotten year.

Fortunately, the 49ers are scheduled to play the New York Jets this Sunday. While no game is a guaranteed win, only two or three other NFL teams are a more massive black hole for talent and success than the Jets.

Here are a few keys for the 49ers to leave New Jersey with a victory.

Build Garoppolo's Confidence Early


For whatever reason, Garoppolo did not have a strong game against the Arizona Cardinals. He looked slow and indecisive, throwing with poor footwork and rusted mechanics.

Garoppolo's best throws were early in the game on plays with shorter drops and rapid reads. To start Sunday, Shanahan should script a series of short, high-percentage pass plays to build Garoppolo's confidence. These plays should include rub and pick routes and crossing combinations, purposely structured to give a quarterback an easy read and open target.

1st Quarter: 1st and 10 at the SF 24 (10:05)
Garoppolo's touchdown pass to running back Raheem Mostert was a play called '3 Scat Disk H-Trout'.

When the offense got to the line of scrimmage, Garoppolo 'canned' the first play, so the offense adjusted to run 'Disk H-Trout', the second play called in the huddle.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who had already motioned to the right side of the formation, widened his split from Kittle.

At the snap, Kittle and Bourne ran mirrored stick routes, fullback Kyle Juszczyk ran a swing to the right, and wide receiver Dante Pettis cleared the left side with what looked like a 'crash' or 'flag' route.

Mostert ran a 'Texas' route from the backfield, which put him one-on-one with rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Garoppolo made a quick read and hit Mostert in-stride for an easy 76-yard sprint for six points.

1st Quarter: 1st and 10 at the ARZ 46 (2:41)
On the 49ers' fifth possession of the game, Garoppolo gained 24 total yards on two throws.

The first was at the 2:41 mark when he found Kittle moving left on a 'now' route. The play had the feel of a run-pass option, causing Arizona's defense to flow with Juszczyk and Mostert.

Wide receiver Richie James and Bourne were in a slot formation to the left and ran clearing routes, which opened one-third of the field for Garoppolo.

Kittle made the grab and gained 14 yards.

1st Quarter: 1st and 10 at the ARZ 32 (2:00)
On the next play, Shanahan called 'Choice-Stucko' but used an empty backfield. Tight end Jordan Reed ran the 'choice' route, the first in the progression, and was able to gain 10 yards. Garoppolo was working from the gun and gathered his feet, and threw the ball.

Wide Receivers


Due to the lack of all-22 tape, it was difficult to determine whether the 49ers' wide receivers were separating from Arizona's defenders.

However, Pettis needs to start doing the little things right to help his teammates. At the 13:16 mark in the second quarter, Shanahan called a power run for running back Jerick McKinnon.

McKinnon read the strong side A-gap and blew through the gap. For a brief moment, he was in the open field and looked like he would score his first touchdown as a 49er.

However, Pettis missed a fundamental block, and Arizona brought down McKinnon at the one-yard line. The 49ers failed to score on the next play.

With just under 7 minutes left in the second quarter, Pettis ran what looked like a seam route right into an Arizona defender, and then failed to make a block after Bourne made the catch.

I've never heard of a route that instructs a receiver to run into a defender 10 or more yards downfield.

Pettis might have been a Week 1 starter by default, but he will not hold onto the position much longer with a general lack of effort on routes and blocks.

Return of the Pass Rush


The Arizona Cardinals know the two silver bullets that hobble the 49ers' defense: a mobile quarterback and quick passes.

Arizona's faster passing attack neutralized the 49ers' pass rush. The short drops and quick reads kept the pressure off quarterback Kyler Murray and forced the 49ers' secondary to work harder. Murray completed 22 passes on 26 attempts on throws ten yards or fewer and gained 173 yards. He only had four completions and 57 yards in the air on throws beyond ten yards.

Murray ran through the 49ers' defense for 91 yards on the ground. In his three career games against the 49ers, Murray has gained 192 yards on 26 carries. Mobile quarterbacks are the 49ers' scarlet letterman, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has no answer to stop that slow bleed.

Rookie defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw had a quiet debut game in the stat book, but his film was different. He had an incredible punch off the ball, often shoving Arizona's guards a full two yards into the backfield.

Kinlaw also had two hurries, which will ultimately translate to his first career sacks against the Jets' swamp-footed quarterback Sam Darnold.

I fully expect Saleh to attack Jets' rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton with confusing exchanges, unorthodox fronts, and isolating him against 49ers' defensive end Nick Bosa. Becton hurt his knee in his debut game and was limited in Wednesday's practice.

2nd Quarter: 2nd and 7 at the ARZ 14 (10:49 & 10:43)
During the 49ers' fifth defense, Saleh put Bosa in a wide-9 look on the formation's open side. Bosa skunked left tackle D.J. Humphries on a speed rush and caused an incomplete pass. On the next play, Saleh put Bosa at linebacker, stalking the front alongside linebacker Fred Warner.

At the snap, Bosa took a step toward the left A-gap, then looped around to his left while defensive lineman Arik Armstead shot to his right.

Warner mimicked Bosa, stepping to the right A-gap and looped to his right. Defensive lineman Kerry Hyder, Jr. shot through the B-Gap while Dee Ford took on right tackle Kelvin Beachum. Arizona gained 9 yards on the play, but it was an excellent display of Bosa's talent and Saleh's innovative defensive scheme.

The 49ers will get their pass rush dialed in and back to 2019 form, which will put Darnold on the run and result in bad decisions and turnovers.

Last week's prediction was incorrect, but the 49ers will bounce back and beat the Jets 30-13 this Sunday.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless noted.
  • Bret Rumbeck
  • Written by:
    Bret Rumbeck has been writing about the 49ers since 2017 for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub. He is a Turlock, CA native, and has worked for two members of the US House of Representatives and one US Senator. When not breaking down game film, Bret spends his time seeking out various forms of heavy metal. Feel free to follow him or direct inquiries to @brumbeck.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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