There’s no doubt the 49ers’ offense has a completely different look than what took the field against the Packers in Week 1, but San Francisco shouldn’t change their philosophy nonetheless. What the 49ers unveiled against the Packers was quite run-oriented — 32 rushes to 26 pass attempts — and there’s good reason for it. Green Bay’s defense was ranked 17th in rush yards allowed this season with 118.5 per game.
Running around the end proved to be a very effective way to get the ground game going for the 49ers. In fact, they ran 10 different running plays in their first three drives against the Packers, eight of which were outside the tackles. The 49ers seemed to abandon running inside on the Packers completely; perhaps it was to avoid all 337 lbs of BJ Raji, but I suspect it had more to do with how poorly Green Bay defends the outside run.
Here’s a look at Kendall Hunter taking a first quarter handoff around right tackle for an eight yard gain.
The blocking is pretty straight forward — the two primary blocks are Vernon Davis on Nick Perry and Bruce Miller, who comes out of the backfield to block Charles Woodson (off screen). CJ Wilson takes himself out of this play immediately by disregarding the offensive strength in front of him and diving inside, so it’s up to Anthony Davis to chip DJ Smith for just long enough before shedding him to block AJ Hawk.
Hunter actually has a pretty sizable hole to run through between Miller and Davis’ blocks, but instead he chooses to cut it towards the inside where Hawk can get him.
Here is another example, a 21-yard Gore run in the third quarter.
It has to be a good sign if the 49ers can break of a 21-yard run against eight Packers in the box. Vernon Davis holds off Perry while Boone pulls to take out Smith. Bruce Miller blocks down on Tramon Williams and the rest is good running from Gore.
Both Perry and Smith take particularly bad angles, rendering them completely useless in defense. Finally, check out the cut Frank Gore throws on MD Jennings at the end of the run. Even if Gore doesn’t have much left in his late-season legs, LaMichael James is a threat to do the same sort of thing in open space.
Here’s a look at a toss play in the third quarter that went for 26 yards.
This run is all about blocking angles and patient running. Both Joe Staley and Jonathan Goodwin pull from the onset to block linebackers and cornerbacks, while Iupati represents the only man on the left side of the line to stay and block his man. Vernon Davis chips Clay Matthews before heading downfield to block Hawk. Gore follows Delanie Walker, anticipating a crushing block on Sam Shields. This springs Gore for a big gain.
Goodwin gets downfield quickly to take out Morgan Burnett, and Gore does a great job of weaving his way between Walker’s block and Goodwin’s. The man who finally gets Gore out of bounds is Jerron McMillian, who comes all the way from the right side of the field to make the stop.
Normally I’m not big on the 49ers running tosses, but if they’re effective to gain even five or six yards it’s a strategy the 49ers should consider. The Packers averaged 30:26 in time of possession this season, also known as way too much time for the ball to be in Aaron Rodgers’ hands. The 49ers will need to not only get themselves in manageable second and third down situations but they’ll need to eat up clock as well. They accomplished it by establishing the run in Week 1 and they’ll have to return to the same well if they want to do it on Saturday.