49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

October 31, 2011
Film review: Where's Walker? Springing Gore on key run

It's a testament to the variability of the 49ers offense. In their last game, tight end Delanie Walker was the team's Swiss Army Knife, a guy who lined up all over the field, who blocked Ndamukong Suh and who caught the game-winning touchdown.

delanie1.jpg

Against the Browns on Sunday, Walker didn't catch a pass for the first time this season. In fact, he wasn't even targeted. Usually, the 49ers keep teams off balance by throwing to their tight ends out of their run-oriented, heavy-jumbo formations. In this game, they beat the Browns, not by throwing to Walker and Vernon Davis, but with misdirection passes to a left tackle, Joe Staley, and a short-yardage fullback, Isaac Sopoaga.

Still, Walker had one of the key blocks on a critical but overlooked play early Sunday. In the first quarter, the 49ers were pinned at their own goal and facing 2nd and 9. Punting from that position would have given the Browns, who needed to keep the score close, excellent field position.

On the play, both Davis and Walker are lined up on the right side of the 49ers offensive line, Walker outside of Davis. At the snap, both seal off the left side of the Cleveland defense. Walker, in fact, takes out two Browns, free safety Mike Adams and linebacker Scott Fujita. Strong safety T.J. Ward has containment to the outside. But left guard Mike Iupati get to him and tosses him out of the way.

Frank Gore finds a wide open lane to the outside and doesn't stop until he's run out of bounds 24 yards later. Fullback Bruce Miller is downfield with him and center Jonathan Goodwin shows up at the end. That's one of the things that has stood out this season - how many 49ers blockers are deep downfield on these running plays. The 49ers would go on to score a field goal on the drive - an 11-play drive that lasted more than seven minutes - that would balance-out the field-position battle.

Other notes:

* In the press box, everyone clearly heard the official announce that Staley was an eligible receiver before his 17-yard catch and run. Staley, however, said he didn't hear it, and he said that linebacker Chris Gocong, who was on that side of the formation, told him later that he didn't hear it either. Staley credited the crowd noise for aiding the 49ers' subterfuge.

* The play of the game may have come two plays in when Ahmad Brooks sacked Colt McCoy and forced a fumble. On the play, the 49ers sent four rushers: Brooks, Ray McDonald, Justin Smith and Parys Haralson. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga drops back a few steps and plays coverage in the flat. After the sack, the ball is knocked forward - right where Sopoaga is standing. Luck? Strategy? Winning teams always seem to have a little of both.

* Regarding Gore's fourth-down run in which he was ruled down before breaking the plane of the goal line: Officials upheld the call after ruling that Gore's knee hits the ground before the ball is in the end zone. The replays, however, not only show that the ball probably crosses the goal-line before the knee goes down, they show that his knee actually lands on the foot of a Cleveland defender. That's a touchdown (although it will be little consolation to anyone with Gore on his fantasy football team).

* Safety Dashon Goldson was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a blow to the helmet on Cleveland receiver Greg Little. In fact, Goldson blasted Little's left shoulder with the forearm.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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