Colin Kaepernick

A look at how to attack Seattle’s “Death Star” defense

The Seattle Seahawks only allowed 20 total touchdowns in 16 games (16 passing, 4 rushing), and their defense does not seem to have any glaring flaws. While Pete Carroll may be content with his Death Star of a defense, there is always a thermal exhaust port, hidden in a seemingly negligible trench, waiting to be exploited.

I scanned through every Seahawks game in search of a vulnerability and here’s what I found:

The Slant Route

In Week 1 against the Seahawks, the Carolina Panthers lined up in the I-Formation with two wide receivers positioned to the right and Greg Olsen on the left. In response, the Seahawks played zone coverage.

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 11.01.59 PM

During the play, Cam Newton fakes the handoff to Tolbert, TE Greg Olsen #88 runs a corner route, WR Brandon LaFell #11 draws Richard Sherman’s attention and runs a deep slant, FB Richie Brockel runs an out route attracting Earl Thomas and K.J. Wright, while Steve Smith runs a quick slant route across the linebackers and finds a pocket in between them for the touchdown.

Fast forward to Week 14. The 49ers line up in shotgun formation with a three-WR set and Frank Gore positioned to Colin Kaepernick’s left. Once again, the Seahawks are in zone coverage.

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 11.30.10 PM

In this play, Frank Gore duplicates Brockel’s role while Vernon Davis, like Steve Smith in the previous GIF, runs a slant in front of the Seattle linebackers and slips past Bobby Wagner for the touchdown.

The “Go” Route: The 49ers’ passing offense tends to be relatively conservative as they don’t typically take many shots downfield, but they should consider sending either Michael Crabtree or Quinton Patton on “Go” routes against the Seahawks. En route to delivering the Seahawks their first loss of the season, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton capitalized on deep passes on several occasions when Seattle lined up in man coverage.

Look, even the worst team in the league figured out how to run in a straight line against Seattle!

So did the only team to win in Seattle in nearly two seasons!

The “Go” route seems to be rather effective against a very handsy Seattle defense. From a 49ers perspective, taking more chances down the field may be apt considering that the 49ers are 14-0 this season when Colin Kaepernick averages 6 yards or more per passing attempt. Plus, the last time I checked the “Go” route was fairly advantageous for Jim Harbaugh and Company.

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