The all-important preseason Week 3 game has come and gone for the 49ers. This was a game that the 49ers dominated for most of the first half when both teams were playing the starters, but the 49ers were down for most of the game. Penalties and self-inflicted wounds killed the 49ers in this game on both offense and defense. I will discuss a few of the plays from the game that stood out to me.
The 49ers pass rush had its best game of the preseason. The problem was they were creating pressure, but couldn't finish the play with a sack.
On this play, the right defensive end Arik Armstead (#91) does a nice job creating pressure. Where he makes his mistake was penetrating the inside shoulder of the left tackle instead of staying outside of the tackle. When playing an athletic quarterback like Andrew Luck, you have to keep contain on the edges or the quarterback will get outside and make the defense pay by running the ball for a positive gain. In this instance, that's the difference between a potential safety and a nice gain by the offense. Little things like this make the difference when talking an average defense, or an elite one.
Everything gets magnified in the red zone. The 49ers offense was fantastic last season when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took over for the last five games. But one major issue stood out: lack of consistently scoring touchdowns when in the red zone.
Fourth-and-2 in the red zone. Following a drop from tight end Garrett Celek, head coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it on 4th down. This route concept is designed to isolate the route at the top, which is wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (#84).
The play ends with an incompletion to Bourne. The route combination of the tight end and the slot receiver occupy every defender in the middle of the field, including the safety. That's what allows the outside receiver Bourne to be one-on-one with the cornerback. Bourne doesn’t sell the CB that he is running a fade route, and the cornerback plays the in cut very well. Garoppolo determined before the snap that he was going to Bourne. He knew that with how the defense was lined up, that Bourne would be one-on-one with the cornerback. He trusted his guy to get open. I like the pre-snap read from Garoppolo and the trust he has in his receivers. This is a catch you’d like to see the receiver come up with, even with the tight coverage.
Jimmy Garoppolo loves to throw to his slot receiver Trent Taylor (#81) on third downs. If this is something that I’m aware of, then Colts defensive players and coaches are as well. This is an example of a poor decision from Garoppolo. He decides pre-snap that he is going to Taylor due to the route combinations of the other receivers and the running back. In theory this is the right call, but when the ball is snapped the linebacker recognizes what Garoppolo is doing and breaks on Taylor's route. If Garoppolo could have recognized what the linebacker was doing, and looked for his check down, the running back was wide open in the flat. It’s the little things inside the red zone that make a huge difference.
This is an interesting play due to the fact that we see two receivers enter the screen at the point of the catch. Receiver Pierre Garcon (#15) is the recipient of this pass from Garoppolo that ends with a nice run after the catch from Garcon. At the point of the catch we see receiver Marquise Goodwin (#11) flash directly behind Garcon. It was discovered after the game, that this Garoppolo pass was actually intended for Goodwin, and not Garcon. The two receivers cross at almost exactly the same point. If Garcon did not catch this pass, Goodwin was in a good spot to catch it. The ball would have been a bit behind Goodwin, which would have affected the yards after the catch. It was a bit of luck for the 49ers offense that Garcon was the one who came up with this ball for a big gain.
On last week's film study I broke down the outside zone run play and the importance it plays in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. New running back Alfred Morris (#36) made his debut with the 49ers. It was clear that Morris is a pro when it comes to running the outside zone. He does a fantastic job of banging this run between the tackle and guard, and also getting to the inside of the fullback’s block. Morris is currently the best back on the 49ers when it comes to running this particular play.
We have one more preseason game before we get into games that matter. The team will be traveling to Minnesota for Week 1 for a huge test to start the season.
(All GIFs courtesy of the NFL)
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