Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Film From the Field House: How the 49ers’ Offense Can Build Upon Success Against the Patriots

Bret Rumbeck
Oct 24, 2020 at 7:00 AM


San Francisco 49ers' head coach Kyle Shanahan and I probably have very little in common, except a critical Xennial lesson learned in the late 1980s: if the game isn't working, take it out of the console and blow on it.

The 49ers' offense was in dire need of a reset going into Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams. There has been little sync and fluidity, except for the two wins against both wretched franchises from New York.

Here's how the 49ers can take the right parts of their win, along with areas that need improvement, and springboard into Week 7.

Use Tempo and Short Plays to Build Garoppolo's Confidence


1st Quarter - 1st and 10 at the LAR 24 (12:30)

Any game plan moving forward needs to include tight end George Kittle early and often. The play doesn't have to be a triple-move route that sends Kittle 40 yards down the field. Something like the filter screen above would work just fine.

I want Shanahan to set an immediate tone to the opposition: we will get the football to our best play early, often, and by any means necessary. Further, Kittle's attitude is infectious. Big gains to him during the first drive bleed into the rest of the offense. It becomes addictive, and the offense continues to want another hit of Kittle's 'whooos!'

The play above also got right tackle Mike McGlinchey involved, allowing him to take out a week of frustration on the Rams' defense. McGlinchey had his best game of the 2020 season in Week 6, allowing zero sacks, pressures, hurries, hits, and did not commit a penalty. Pro Football Focus awarded an 86.1 overall grade for his efforts.

2nd Quarter - 2nd and 6 at the SF 28 (:28)

The above play one of my favorite in Shanahan's playbook. It's quick, it's easy, and it's has a high percentage of success. I would like to see this play in the opening script, rather than late in the second quarter.

Slant routes are nearly impossible to stop, along with Kittle's 'over' route. 'Lion' is an excellent play to call when the 49ers are just short of the sticks, but the quick, three-step drop is better to build Garoppolo's confidence early in the game.

Garoppolo Needs to Throw Downfield


Missing from Shanahan's gameplan were the deep, downfield routes and the movement plays that get Garoppolo outside the pocket. Movement plays have been incredibly useful, cutting the field in half and include a deep, intermediate, and short route for Garoppolo to choose.

Instead, Shanahan called a handful of plays that sent receivers deep but were not the primary read.

1st Quarter - 1st and 10 at the SF 36 (2:16)

Shanahan's playbook is littered with plays with three and four reads for his quarterback. But in between the complicated plays are pages of two-man route combinations such as 'drift' and 'burner.'

I marvel at these simplistic plays that use two receivers that still find the soft spots in a five-man coverage.


The play above, 'X Read Ghost,' was a bit shocking to see in Week 6. Only one receiver stretched the field vertically, while fullback Kyle Juszczyk and running back Jerick McKinnon ran routes under 10 yards.


Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, running the Ghost route, was nothing more than window dressing and an emergency outlet.

I'm not criticizing an 8-yard gain, nor am I upset that Shanahan called a slightly sophomoric play-action. Too often, football can be overly complicated.

The 49ers need to start sending more receivers into a play and force Garoppolo to make deeper reads. 'X Read Ghost' is a reliable call but needs to include a 'drift' or a 'chase' route, rather than designating a receiver as an outlet.

2nd Quarter - 3rd and 7 at the LAR 23 (3:59)

Garoppolo's biggest knock is missing wide-open receivers, and it happened against more than once against the Rams. Indeed, he overthrew a wide-open Juszczyk on an F-Leak play at the 7:58 mark in the 3rd quarter.

But he also overlooked a wide-open Bourne with just under 4 minutes left in the second quarter.


The Rams' defense showed a Cover 2 look, which should have alerted Garoppolo that Bourne's swirl route would end up in the weak part of the coverage.


At the snap, it was not easy to determine which of the three routes on the left side of the formation would break open. However, once Bourne reached the 15-yards line and broke toward the corner, he was going to be in the clear.

Garoppolo looked left, but either thought cornerback Troy Hill would drop into the throwing lane, or he could not see over the defenders.

The 49ers' offensive line blocked very well on the play, yet Garoppolo began needlessly moving around the pocket. The mental error forced him to drop his eyes, miss Bourne and check it down to Taylor. The 49ers gained enough yardage for a first down, but the play could have been much more significant.

Despite the shorter, faster passing game, the 49ers' offense can build upon what they gained in Week 6. I expect Shanahan to call plays that force Garoppolo to read deeper routes against the Patriots, along with more movement plays that make the reads easier for his quarterback.

All images courtesy of NFL.com.
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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