Three cheers for vacation! I wanted to show some highlights from the Falcons game and thought I'd focus on 3rd down conversions. On the day, the 49ers would convert 4 of 9 on the stat sheet with another conversion via pass interference. I'll add a few bonus plays at the end, but here we go...
#1: Q1 8:39, 3rd & 2 - First off, why not show the Falcons a look that disguises run vs pass. 4 receivers, single back and shotgun just screams pass. Ok, on to the play. Despite a horrible effort by Goodwin in letting his man go after initial double team help (Boone left the guy to pick up the man AD cut and this probably wasn't necessary), Kap is missing the plays here. He looked right first and I don't know why he didn't sling this to Boldin. The route is a little short of the sticks, but I'd trust Boldin to get the extra yard or 2 on a good throw.
As you can see here, Kap spends way too much time staring down the right side and not bringing his eyes to Kendall Hunter, who is wide open as he turns around. I'll talk more about my concerns with instinctively knowing where to go on the 5th 3rd down attempt of the game.
#2: Q1 1:14, 3rd & 7 - After correcting Patton on where to line up, Kap drops a nice pass to Boldin for 22 yards. People claim that Kap never throws the ball with touch. Kap needs to trust his receivers more. We actually saw several plays like this tonight, as I will show later on. Oh, and he got crushed by Osi as he was throwing the ball? Of course, all the Kap haters will pretend plays like this don't exist.
#3 Q2 15:00, 3rd & 1 - I hate everything about this play. RUN THE DAMN BALL. First off, I'm not sure what Kap is calling here. I really hope he didn't audible to this. I can't understand what he's calling over the announcers. I'm not a fan of the jumbo formation and I'm even less a fan of running an ultra-cute play action that has no prayer. Vernon is double covered. Kilgore is the only other option? Really? What the hell are you thinking Roman?? Note how the OLB points at Kilgore after he goes in motion. Fooled the heck out of the Falcons there buddy.
#4 Q2 7:45, 3rd & 13 - This play is going to get chalked up to good D by the Falcons on 3rd and long. A delayed blitz is unaccounted for and Kap does his best to roll away from the pressure and keep his eyes down field. People are covered. I can't blame Kap for not tossing one up for McDonald, who stumbled and missed a ball 2 plays earlier (although after rewatching, I'm on the fence about a stumble vs an overthrow that McDonald is trying to dive for).
The only thing I think that we could have done on this play, is if Crabs had broken off his route outside and Kap hits him with a laser, Crabs YAC ability might get the first. Instead, Crabs continued over the middle and breaks deep. He looks open, but that's because Kap is forced to scramble and the secondary is converging.
#5 Q2 2:00, 3rd & 4 - This one's on you, Kap. After failing to pull the trigger to McDonald (see below), he locks in on Boldin and throws a terrible pass. Maybe he threw it in the dirt on purpose, but that was just begging to be pick sixed. Vernon, however, is wide open.
I guess I need someone with more knowledge of the inner workings of QB play. There's a decent pocket that collapses after a few seconds. Should Kap be expected to make 3 reads that quickly to get to VD or should he just more instinctively know he's got the better mismatch and look that way? Seems to me it needs to be more instinct to look at VD quickly than a matter of going through progressions faster with a collapsing pocket, but I'd like to hear from others on this.
#6 Q3 13:58, 3rd & 5 - Another touch pass, this time to Crabtree. It's not a perfect ball, but let's consider the circumstances. The offense is stagnant and you're losing the last regular season game at Candlestick. 2 plays ago, while on the run, you slung a low (but catch-able) ball to Vernon at knee height and he drops it. You rocket a ball to Crabtree, but it's a little too high and skids off his outstretched hands. Going 3 and out would be very bad, so Kap reads the coverage and throws a very safe ball to Crabtree. Yes, Crabs had to adjust a bit, but this is a very easy catch with the soft touch and there's no danger of a pick. Then the YAC monster takes over. Overall, I'm pleased with Kap's poise and adjustment on this play.
#7 Q3 6:51, 3rd & 2 - After losing a yard up the middle (/sigh_jumbo_formation), the San Francisco 49ers successfully ran...wait for it...a pick play. Easy pitch and catch for 22 yards. Once again, Roman doesn't dial up a run on 3rd and short, but the play design is much better here.
#8 Q3 5:21, 3rd & 19 - Since the helmet to helmet hit on Kap wasn't called, the Niners were facing a long conversion and got a fortunate PI for Boldin. It was pretty ticky tack, but I can't feel bad after the Donte Hitner call. Not going to waste time on this replay.
#9 Q3 4:03, 3rd & 4 - I wasn't happy about the run call when it happened. I guess we hadn't run on 3rd down in a while, but I'd rather it be less than 4 yards out. Maybe Roman is trying to mix it up, since we rarely run with 3 receivers and a single back.
#10 Q4 14:10, 3rd & 1 - Jumbo works this time as Gore sidesteps a Falcon falling into the backfield and picks up the first down. I'm losing steam on producing videos and there many other good runs in the 4th quarter. Besides, if I make a video of a successful jumbo formation, it will be harder to complain that jumbo never works.
The Niners would not have another 3rd down the rest of the game as they run the ball down the Falcons' throats on the final TD drive. On the positive side, we saw a lot more manageable 3rd downs (seen a lot of 3rd and long lately), Kap trusting his receivers more and working in some touch throws, rather than always going with the laser. On the flip side, I think we're still too obvious with the pass/run and Kap needs to be better at finding the open guy, since the pass pro will rarely hold up for very long. Now is "better" more a product of "faster" or "instincts" on who will be open? Please chime in on this one.
Additional food for thought....
Q1 11:04 - After a 6 yard completion to Boldin on our first offensive play, is this Kap calling an audible to a run? Is he just adjusting where the run will go, or simply confirming the play call? Gore picks up 10 and the first down. Kap gets little credit for managing the game and making pre-snap reads, which seems really difficult to determine when you don't know what the play calls are. Easy to say and if it fits your agenda, then I guess you go with it, despite what Kap's teammates and coaches say about him.
Q1 0:22 - After penalties on Staley (false start) and Crabtree (OPI for what might have been a push off of a DB holding him the entire play...hard to see), Kap hits Osgood for 17 yards to setup 3rd and 1 (#3). From the still shot, you can see VD blanketed, Patton with a little separation (but that's a dangerously long throw with 2 men behind QP) and Boldin open very short for a nominal gain (Boldin is basically a decoy / check down?). With the focus left, Crabtree really isn't much of an option, but he's well covered anyways.
You can see Kap look at VD and then check Patton deep while sliding left, which opens up the middle of the field for a big completion to Osgood. There's a lot to like on this play, considering 2nd and long is usually where we run a 1 yard draw. Multiple reads? Check. Getting a different receiver involved? Check. Resisting the urge to scramble with a wide open field? Check. Who says Kap can't manipulate a safety?
Q2 2:22 - The Good: Kap goes through multiple reads and takes the check down. 6 yards on 2nd and 10 is solid. The Bad: Kap doesn't trust McDonald after he dropped the short pass the play before, which was low, but catch-able. You've got to pull the trigger here Kap. I know you've had 2 misses with McDonald, but this should be an easy throw with your cannon. I would have like to see McDonald not drift down field so much to make it an easier throw, but I don't know what the route calls for and that's probably well past Kap's decision point anyways. The ball needs to be out and McDonald makes his break. The Niners end up failing next on 3rd and 4 (#5).
I hope you guys enjoyed the video and this will spark some good discussion. I'll leave you with one last play from the 4th quarter. I thought Dixon had a decent day lead blocking (not amazing, but solid to good) and Hunter showed Gore type vision and cutbacks on this play.