49ers Offensive Line: The Trap Play

I'm from the other side of SB Nation that most of you probably visit once every four years when the 49ers play the AFC South. Over at Battle Red Blog, I try to write one offensive line article a week and when I was watching the film from the 49ers Texans game I found a play I wanted to discuss about your offensive line, but I think it would fall on deaf ears on our site so I thought I could write it and publish it for those that would enjoy it.

As most of you know, Houston runs the zone game where everyone blocks one direction and no one knows exactly where the play is going until the running back makes his cut. The 49ers on the other hand, run a man scheme and use the trap as often as 100 degree days come in the middle of a Texas summer. They use their enormous guards Mike Iuapati and Alex Boone to pull and blow up unsuspecting defensive lineman who dumbly run up the field when no one blocks them.

After Matt Schaub's second interception the 49ers were handed opportunistic field position and started their drive at Houston's 32 yard line with the score 14-0. On the first play of the drive Kaepernick scampered for 14 yards and then San Fran ran this trap play in the 2nd quarter with 6:23 remaining on 1st and 10.


I drew the techniques of the defensive lineman and the blocking assignments of the offensive line to help understand the play. Nearly every trap play has the same components: a pulling guard, an uncovered defensive lineman they trick into running up the field, a playside double team, and the center blocking back on the defensive tackle that was covering the guard. So here we have the following:

  • Left tackle blocks the OLB (Mericlus) to prevent him from chasing down the line of scrimmage and making a play on the ball carrier.
  • The left guard, Iupati pulls playside. He will kick out the uncovered Brooks Reed.
  • The Center blocks down on the three technique to cut off penetration and allow Iupati to pull cleanly.
  • The Right guard blocks down on the 2i
  • Anthony Davis, the right tackle, will act like he's coming up to the second level to block him or show pass to draw Cushing into the double team. Then he'll come flat behind Boone's block to take on Joe Mays (Will linebacker).
  • On most trap plays if the tackle is a three they will run a "deuce" block (double team between the guard and tackle) to the backside linebacker. Celek would show pass to get the end up the field and block the playside linebacker. Vernon Davis would block Brooks Reed and Watt would be the one trapped. It's different this time because of either scheme preferences or because Houston runs a 3-4, and the defensive tackle is too far inside to have a great double team. I believe they played it this way because of how the technique the tackle was playing in, but I would have to watch every 49ers' run play to know for sure.
  • The two tight ends will double Watt up to Cushing and let Brooks Reed chase down the line of scrimmage into Iupati.


The key to the trap play is to not allow penetration in the back field. Penetration screws with the guards pull (won't know who to block or will get knocked into before he can get to the end) and disrupts the running back's timing. Here we can see great blocks on the backside, especially by the center and right guard and Iupati is able to pull cleanly. The double team between the tight ends is exactly what you don't want to see in a double team. They aren't hip to hip or making contact at the same time. It's weird it looks like this because Watt is not in a tough position to double team, he's a 6i (inside shade of the tight end). It just seems like Vernon Davis gets off the ball late. Anthony Davis does a great job showing that he's going to the second level up to Cushing and draws him into the hole. He's also very square and will be able to effortlessly change his course and block Joe Mays (#53).


The entire back side is walled off and there's no sign of penetration. Davis is squared and heading to the Will (weakside inside linebacker), Joe Mays. Davis and Celek are doing a better job, but they are working against each other. See how both of them are pushing at different sides of Watt and directing opposite forces on him. Their double team must go to Cushing who's the helmet above Davis. If Cushing comes up the field Celek will peel off and block him and if he goes around Watt then Davis will peel off and block him. Their double team is atrocious, but they are doing just enough for the play to work. Now the actual trap is about to take place. Iupati is squared and roaring to Reed to kick him out and he needs to blow him out of the play. He can't just limply run into him and have a stalemate. His block will decide if the play goes for one yard or seven because the hole will be in between the gap created by Davis and Celek's double team and his on Reed.


Here we can see that Cushing decided to stay above the block so Davis peels off. The timing here is perfect since Iupati kicks out Reed right after Gore receives the hand off.


Everyone has been covered and accounted for and Gore runs right off Iupati's butt to daylight. Iupati does an incredible job squaring up Reed and driving him out of the play.


Boldin even gets in on the action by taking care of the strong safety Danieal Manning. The offensive line usually accounts for the first four yards of the play and the blocks the receivers make and the elusiveness of the running back create the rest. The play went for 16 yards and left the 49ers at the Texans' two yard line. They would punch the ball in two plays later to make the game 21-0.

Here's an album of screen shots I took from the game for those who are interested.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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