Colin Kaepernick’s big TD run

One of the best offenses to watch this year from a x’s and o’s standpoint has been the 49ers offense; especially since the change at QB to Kaepernick.  They have brought such diversity to the run game that it is no surprise that they showed some more creativity last night against the packers.

What they ran on CK’s long TD run was the counter to the counter to the counter.  What does that even mean?  First of all on the zone read, the offense typically leaves the end defender unblocked and reads him.  If he crashes towards the RB, the QB keeps, if he stays the QB gives… easy enough right?  Well it was making the defense wrong all the time, so defenses started adjusting by using a scrape exchange.  This meaning, the DE would always crash down to get the RB and the LB to that side would scrape over the top and get the QB coming around the corner.  Problem solved right?  Not necessarily, offenses started bringing a lead blocker around to block (“arc block”) the LB scraping over the top.  Ugh another counter, so now should DE’s engage that lead blocker to keep the LB clean, what’s a guy to do when there is a 260lb guy running full speed?  Well to add to an edge defenders troubles, the 49ers ran this play last night.

49ers come out in the pistol, TE and FB are to the left, 2 WR’s to the right, defense has a safety in the deep middle and Charles Woodson is lined up on Crabtree in the slot.

Here’s a look at the offensive assignments.  Blocks are in yellow, James is in blue and CK is in red.  The RG and RT double team the DE, the center has the NT, the LG has the other DE and the TE gets the LOLB.  The 49ers leave both the ROLB and RILB unblocked by offensive lineman.  So who is blocking them?  Well what the 49ers had been doing was bringing the FB around and running around the ROLB and blocking the RILB, who had been scraping to the outside and reading the ROLB to see what he does (he had been crashing down).  But here is where the 49ers pull the counter to their counter.  This time the FB doesn’t run past the ROLB, he blocks him and CK reads the RILB instead.

Here is a great look at the mesh point.  Look at the great double team by the RT and RG, the DE is sealed as is the NT.  Now look at what the 49ers have… 3 on 2, as in any kind of game, sport, etc. it is good to have the numbers advantage.  Bruce Miller the FB comes and blocks the ROLB, while CK is reading the RILB.  The RILB stays in the hole, so CK keeps and runs around the outside.  If the RILB scrapes outside, the ROLB is kicked out and James runs up through a huge hole with only the FS remaining.  No matter what if the 49ers execute correctly, the Packers cannot be correct.

Here is a look after CK has made his decision.  Notice the 2 blocks circled in yellow.  All 3 49ers have done their job, now it is up to CK to make the right decision, and he does.  The RILB jumps into the hole, Charles Woodson (#21, the slot defender), is actually so worried about the run that he jumps inside as well allowing Crabtree to easily seal him inside and CK to get around him and run down the sideline.

That my friends is why Jim Harbaugh switched to CK, Alex Smith can’t make these plays.  CK is a freak of an athlete and put up huge numbers in this offense in college.  Now he is doing the same in the NFL.  One thing I have noticed is that NFL defensive coaches that have strictly been NFL guys have really struggled in adjusting to option football.  In my opinion this is why there has been a renewed interest in college coaches coming to the NFL.  They can bring this stuff with them, I’m looking at you Doug Marrone…. Who says option football can’t work in the NFL?

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2 Responses to Colin Kaepernick’s big TD run

  1. Sam Craig says:

    Good analysis. Also, the statement about pro coaches struggling to defend this is very true, but I would extend that to “pro-style” coaches. I am a Clemson fan, and last year watched our then defensive coordinator, a well-respected coach with NFL cred, get his hat handed to him by WVU. It was obvious that he simply could not get his head around this type offense. He is not alone (see Florida-Louisville). That coordinator is now gone, and our new coordinator is much better. College coaches still struggle to control these type offenses at times, but are starting to figure it out (witness WVU this year). I don’t think it is an aberration that Alabama lost to a similar offense. Most of the time Bama could simply out-athlete other teams, but A&M had a good enough athlete to reduce the difference.

    It will be interesting to watch defenses learn how to control these kinds of plays and offenses.

    • jonramz says:

      I agree, it will be interesting to see how pro coaches try and stop things… the read option has been running wild in college for the past 10 years and nobody has really found an all-purpose answer to it yet

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