The San Francisco 49ers are pretty vague when it comes to talking about scheme, and even more so when it comes to pointing out errors made by specific players. So it caught my attention when Greg Roman talked about the team’s struggles on offense this afternoon during one exchange in particular.
Talking about getting into a rhythm, Kaepernick hasn’t been all that great on the very first series, a lot of three and outs. Is that an area of focus to kind of get that initial drive going and get into a rhythm early in the game for him?
“I think everybody’s got to get into a rhythm early. For example, we had a 3rd-and-3 I believe, and we missed a block on a run and that’s why we didn’t stay on the field. And when you stay on the field, then you get to move through your game plan accordingly. So, it’s a function of execution really.”
The 49ers only faced one such situation, and it took place during the team’s first possession with the Colts up 7-0. After Frank Gore ran for seven yards on first down, an off-target short pass from Colin Kaepernick to Kyle Williams put the 49ers at 3rd-and-3 on their own 20-yard line. I checked out the All-22 film to see what exactly happened, and more specifically, who missed the block.
1. Pitch to the left to Kendall Hunter.
At this point, a fairly large hole forms between Vance McDonald (the subject of the red arrow) and Joe Staley, who’s focused on blocking No. 23 Vontae Davis. McDonald’s job is to block No. 53 Kavell Connor. See that guy lying on the ground to the lower right of Colin Kaepernick? That’s Robert Mathis, who got completely laid out at the beginning of this play by Anquan Boldin (there were no execution problems on this play from Mr. Boldin).
2. McDonald fails to engage Connor
As you can see here, McDonald doesn’t take on Connor square. Connor moves left and gets around McDonald without much difficulty.
3. Connor sheds McDonald
By this point, Connor has freed himself from McDonald, who is now out of the play. Below those two, notice Alex Boone and Jonathan Goodwin both attempting to block No. 50 Jerrell Freeman. Boone gets his hands on Freeman, who bounces toward the sideline.
4. Hunter makes No. 26 Delano Howell miss
The 49ers’ running back does his job. Once he gets past Howell, he should easily be able to gain three yards since Staley completely took Davis out of the play. However, two Colts linebackers are closing in.
5. Goodbye, running lane
Connor (McDonald’s responsibility) gets to Hunter and stops his forward progress.
6. Hunter has no chance
Once Hunter gets stood up by Connor, Freeman and Davis are there to help finish the tackle. Hunter ends up one yard short of the first down, and the 49ers are forced to punt.
My untrained eye tells me that the key block was missed by McDonald. If Connor gets there just a fraction of a second later, Hunter would’ve been able to get at least one more yard before Freeman could make a tackle (although Boone and Goodwin didn’t do a whole lot to slow Freeman, either). When the 49ers talk about execution and precision — and Roman used the words “precise” and “precision” one time each today after Harbaugh said “precision” six times on Monday — that’s what they’re referring to.
Also, the 49ers still miss Delanie Walker.