FanPost

Some Basic Offensive Formations

Some basic rules:

There need to be seven players on the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. Two of those are eligible receivers, while the other five are generally the offensive linemen. I don't claim to be an expert but do have years looking at these formations, starting when I played Landry Strategy football in the early '90's, which was basically a Football 101 video game. So please correct me if you feel that I am errant; however, this is my understanding and I will try to keep it simple.

Here is what some of the formations might look like in their most basic sets:

-------------------------------------THE I-FORMATION

.............................WR1..........................LT-LG-C-RG-RT-TE..........................................

..............................................................................QB...............................................WR2

..............................................................................FB

..............................................................................HB

Notice how the formation looks like an "I" from overhead; thus the name. The I-Formation can be effective for passing to some extent but serves as the basic run formation for most teams because both inside and outside run plays can be run effectively. Notice the seven men on the line of scrimmage. The five linemen must be "covered," that is, there needs to be one elgible receiver lined up on the line and outside of them at the time that the ball is snapped. In this case, the two eligible receivers doing the "covering" are the TE and WR1. For the 49ers in this formation, WR1=Crabtree, TE=VD, WR2=Boldin, FB=Bruce Miller, and HB=Gore (most commonly).

--------------------------------THE PRO (SPLIT-BACK) FORMATION

.............................WR1..........................LT-LG-C-RG-RT-TE..........................................

.............................................................................QB...............................................WR2

.

..................................................................HB................FB

Here the receivers, QB and O-Line are basically in the same places, but the backs are parallel in the backfield and "split," thus the name of the formation. This formation is also effective for the pass, and can be used for the run, although, because of the positioning of the backs, lead-blocking for the FB is different; it is generally more effective to run outside with this formation than inside.

--------------------------------THE SINGLEBACK FORMATION

.............................WR1..........................LT-LG-C-RG-RT...................................WR2..

...........................................................TE..............QB.............................WR3...............

.

..............................................................................HB

So named because there is only a single back in the backfield. There are a lot of variations on this formation (Singleback 3WR as shown, 4WR, 2TEs, JUMBO with 3 TEs, etc.); the basic principle is that there is only one man lined up behind the QB. Delanie Walker was very useful because he could play TE2 or WR3, making it very confusing for the defense to figure out whether the offense was going to run or pass.

--------------------------------THE SHOTGUN FORMATION

.............................WR1..........................LT-LG-C-RG-RT-TE.....................................

..................................................WR3...................................................................WR2

.

..............................................................................QB...RB

This formation is mostly used for passing; it is useful because the QB has 7 more yards between himself and the defense, allowing him an extra second or two to examine the defense. Again, there are a lot of variations here (3WR, 4WR, 5WR, 4WR/TE, 2RB/3WR, etc.) but the outstanding point is the QB is lined up further back behind the center, normally about 7 yards or so.

--------------------------------THE GOALLINE FORMATION

.........................................................TE2-LT-LG-C-RG-RT-TE1....................................

................................................TE3............................QB............................................

.

...................................................................................FB

...................................................................................RB

As implied by the name, this formation is normally used on the opponents goalline, and almost always signals a run play because of the extra beef on the field. The fact that all of the players are so bunched together also allows for power blocking and really pushing towards the end zone. It's perfect for when you only need a yard or two.

-----------------------------THE "WEAK" AND "STRONG" I-FORMATIONS

Here is what "WEAK-I" looks like:

.............................WR1..........................LT-LG-C-RG-RT-TE..........................................

..............................................................................QB...............................................WR2

....................................................................FB

..............................................................................HB

Almost exactly the same as the I-Formation, except that the FB is offset to the left, or "Weak" side, away from the TE.

Now the "STRONG-I":

.............................WR1..........................LT-LG-C-RG-RT-TE..........................................

..............................................................................QB...............................................WR2

....................................................................................FB

..............................................................................HB

Now the FB is lined up on the "Strong" side, or the same side as the TE.

These are just some of the basics. Like I said, please correct me, and please also remember that there are a lot of variations on these formations since O-Coordinators are always looking for ways to catch the defense off-guard; this was by no means meant to be comprehensive; it is only to give an idea.

Thanks for your patience!

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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