49ers Blog and Q&A

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

September 10, 2012
Film review: 49ers coaches deserve game ball

boINT.jpg

Bob Olson ‏@Utbusa
is bowman better in coverage than willis, Making him the preferred lb against the packers?

No, it's the other way around. When the 49ers are in their nickel packages, Patrick Willis is the one assigned to coverage - whether it be a tight end, running back even a wide receiver. When they go to the dime, Perrish Cox takes over that role. That's why Fangio has called the nickel cornerback role a quasi-linebacker assignment - because he's taking the place of a linebacker.

Willis and Bowman were alternating on the series on which they would leave the game when Cox entered. It just so happened that Packers had longer series when Bowman was in the game and Willis on the sideline. By my count Cox substituted for Willis 20 times on Sunday and substituted for Bowman 11 times.

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This may have been the most well-coached game I've ever covered. From a preparation standpoint, the 49ers coaches were on fire. The question is not whether they outcoached the Packers (they did). But rather it's, who was more masterful, the offensive or defensive coaches?

The offensive game plan was to bury the Packers under a mountain of different personnel groups and formations. Let's just take the 49ers' third offensive series, the one that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Randy Moss. Here are the skill players on each of the 11 plays (I'm including two penalties).

1. Moss, V. Davis, D. Walker, Miller, Gore
2. Crabtree, V. Davis, Walker, Miller, Gore
3. Williams, Manningham, Crabtree, V. Davis, Gore
4. L. Davis, Kilgore, V. Davis, Miller, Gore
5. Williams, Manningham, Crabtree, V. Davis, Walker
6. Crabtree, Manningham, V. Davis, Miller, Gore
7. Crabtree, Manningham, V. Davis, Miller, Gore
8. Crabtree, V. Davis, Walker, Tukuafu, Gore
9. Crabtree, Manningham, V. Davis, Miller, Hunter
10. Moss, V. Davis, L. Davis, Tukuafu, Hunter
11. Crabtree, Moss, V. Davis, Walker, Gore

In those 11 plays, the 49ers used the same personnel group exactly twice.

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Then there's Vic Fangio's defense, which used the dime formation heavily in Green Bay after not using it much at all last year. Fangio also did a masterful job of sprinkling in blitzes at the right moments. The 49ers are not a blitz-heavy team, and that can lull offenses to sleep and make them ripe for a well-timed blitz.

That's what happened when Carlos Rogers (he had a very strong game) blitzed from the slot position in the first quarter. Rogers - unbelievably - never had had a sack in his previous seven seasons, which maybe is why the Packers never saw him coming.

The blitzes on the Packers' final series also were effective. Ahmad Brooks slammed Aaron Rodgers hard as he threw on a first-down blitz. On second down, the 49ers didn't blitz. But Brooks moved from his usual left defensive end spot to the right side and sacked Rodgers for a seven-yard loss. NaVorro Bowman's interception was the defensive play of the game. Brooks' sack may have been No. 2.

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Some notable performances .... Michael Crabtree was targeted nine times and caught seven passes. He was Smith's favorite target on the day, showing that there's chemistry and trust between the two (and perhaps showing the importance of, you know, playing in the preseason.) Moss and Manningham each were targeted four times and both had four catches.

Didn't hear much about new right guard Alex Boone? That's because he had a great game. The 49ers were very effective running to his side all game. Boone also worked well with center Jonathan Goodwin and spent a lot of time on nose tackle B.J. Raji, who finished with only an assisted tackle. Boone moved Raji out of Smith's throwing lane on the touchdown to Moss.

Joe Staley had a rough game in pass protection. But, hey, he was playing against Clay Matthews and doing it with a broken nose, which Staley said he suffered on the first snap of the game. No word on if Staley and Tom Brady are seeing the same plastic surgeon.

-- 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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