FanPost

Film analysis of 49ers run game vs. Packers

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Fooch's Note: Great work breaking down the 49ers run game versus the Packers this past Sunday.

Using NFL Rewind, I re-watched the game, pulling out every 49ers run play for analysis in an effort to understand more fully why the 49ers had such trouble running the ball on Sunday. What I found is that it was a combination of two factors:

1. Good play/scheme from the Green Bay defense.

We gashed them last year with our running game, but Green Bay re-tooled in the off-season to ensure that wouldn't happen again, mainly by bringing in some big bodies on the DLine and altering their defensive scheme against the run. The Packers surprised everyone, I believe, by having their ends/rushing linebackers crash hard into the backfield almost every play, disrupting the timing, rhythm and blocking of multiple 49er running plays.

The middle of their DLine was nearly immovable and Matthews was a one-man wrecking crew... against the run at least. His speed gives him an ability to recover on plays even when he's initially blocked. He's a douche, but he can definitely play. Pickett and BJ Raji, all 700 lbs of them, plugged up the middle and routinely beat 49ers blocking attempts. The Green Bay linebackers also played well as a group. In short, we have to give credit to Green Bay for fixing their run defense and to Dom Capers for instituting an effective scheme.

2. Bad blocking/scheme from San Francisco

The 49ers didn't seem ready for what the Packers' D had in store for them, with blockers early in the game consistently surprised at how hard the Pack linebackers and ends were rushing into the backfield. Miller and McDonald both had missed blocks, or simply got beat when they did engage. Vernon Davis's blocking effort was very mixed. The entire line was not very good at blocking, especially Goodwin one-on-one against the interior of Green Bay's line, but all the 49ers linemen had less-than-stellar days when it came to run-blocking.

Among the linemen, Boone probably had the best day for run-blocking. Iupati and Anthony Davis showed very good mobility, but were beaten on many blocks. The play designs also didn't anticipate Green Bay's strategy, nor adjust to the Pack's obvious strength on the inside as the game went on. It was really only in the 4th quarter that we began to make adjustments and start to move the ball on the ground some. We should give credit that adjustments were finally made that helped them to win the game and we should also give credit for the coaches sticking with the running game even when it was getting stuffed because, since the Pack was so keyed on stopping our run game, it clearly set up the pass very well.

Here's a list of all the 49ers running plays, with a short analysis of who did well and not so well on each play. Please correct me where I am wrong, especially in the formation names. This is my first fan post and I'm not an expert on football nomenclature, so any help is appreciated. Also, please excuse any formatting errors.

1st Qtr 9:51, 1st and 10 @SF17
Formation: Shotgun Offset-I, Hunter behind Kaep, Miller to Kaep's left
Play: Hunter to the left off-tackle
Breakdown: Staley blocks down inside. Miller is assigned to block Matthews, but Matthews run-blitzes and goes by Miller, who wasn't anticipating a Matthews blitz and is too far to the left to stop Matthews from tackling Hunter in the backfield.
Result: 7 yd loss

1st Qtr 7:16, 1st and 10 @GB44
Formation: Shotgun Offset-I, Gore behind Kaep, Miller to Kaep's left
Play: Handoff to Gore up the middle
Breakdown: Packers DLine holds the line of scrimmage. Ends crash, but Gore is by them before they can catch him. AJ Hawk is unblocked and meets Gore in the middle along with Pickett(all 338 lbs of him). Anthony Davis completely whiffs on his block of the DE on his side and is thus useless on the play, though that's not why the play didn't work.
Result: 2 yd gain

1st Qtr 6:06, 3rd and inches @GB34.5
Formation: I-formation
Play: Gore off right guard
Breakdown: Again, Packers DLine holds up well. Little to no push by the 49ers. Gore somehow finds a sliver of space between the guard and tackle and gets the first down.
Result: 2 yd gain

1st Qtr 5:03, 2nd and 4 @GB27
Formation: Shotgun Pro Set, Miller to Kaep's right, Hunter to the left
Play: Hunter to the right off-tackle
Breakdown: ADavis lets the defensive end (Neal - 96) go by as he's assigned to the next level. Miller has the assignment on Neal, but Neal crashes so hard into the backfield that Miller is taken by surprise (again) and barely gets a hand on Neal. This disrupts Hunter's route and he's forced to go east-west instead of north-south to avoid Neal. Hunter makes the best of it by turning inside as Green Bay's pursuit catches up and they get off blocks. What is notable is that both Staley and McDonald are on the ground while the guys that they were blocking are not. But this play likely would've been successful if Miller had a more solid block on the crashing DE.
Result: 2 yd gain

1st Qtr 4:22, 3rd and 2 @GB25
Formation: Shotgun-I, with Hunter behind Kaep, 3 receivers bunched to right
Play: Hunter up the middle
Breakdown: Boone with a good block, gets push. Davis is again tasked to block second-level. Vernon Davis is matched against linebacker, Nick Perry, and loses. But there's enough room cleared by Boone for Hunter to pick up the first down.
Result: 3 yd gain

1st Qtr 3:37, 2nd and 10 @GB22
Formation: Pistol, Gore behind Kaep, Miller to the right, McDonald to the left.
Play: Gore up the middle
Breakdown: McDonald is beaten by AJ Hawk. Miller blocks no one. Goodwin has a nice block on Pickett and takes him down. Iupati is stood up by defensive end, CJ Wilson, but his block was probably good enough if McDonald and Miller do a better job.
Result: 2 yd gain

1st Qtr 0:58, 1st and 10 @SF25
Formation: Shotgun-I with Gore behind Kaep
Play: Gore off right guard
Breakdown: Boone gets beat by Pickett. Hawk beats Miller. But enough space created by initial blocks by Boone and Davis for Gore to make some positive yards.
Result: 3 yd gain

2nd Qtr 10:41, 2nd and 2 @GB6
Formation: Pistol, Gore behind, Miller to right, McDonald to left
Play: Gore off left guard
Breakdown: Goodwin gets beat by BJ Raji. Staley gets beat by Matthews. Miller is late to block AJ Hawk. McDonald gets beat by his assignment. Maybe the worst running play of the game for the team.
Result: 1 yd gain

2nd Qtr 4:28, 1st and 10 @SF44
Formation: Offset-I, Gore deep, Miller behind-left of Kaep, Kilgore in as tight end on left.
Play: Gore off left tackle
Breakdown: Kilgore can't handle Matthews and is pushed behind the line of scrimmage, forcing Miller to help block him. Iupati is tossed aside by BJ Raji, who shows good mobility chasing the play down the line.
Result: No gain

2nd Qtr 3:13, 1st and 10 @GB34
Formation: Shotgun-I, Gore behind Kaep, Miller to his right
Play: Gore off right tackle
Breakdown: Packers have 8 in the box. Defensive end crashes hard immediately, disrupting the play somewhat, but it's the run blitz of the safety that destroys this play. Boldin whiffs on a block attempt on the safety and KDub fails to get a glove on the cornerback facing him.
Result: -2 yds

3rd Qtr 15:00, 1st and 10 @SF20
Formation: Offset-I, Gore deep, Miller on left
Play: Gore off left guard
Breakdown: Matthews pushes Miller back. Staley gets beat by Raji, but Gore somehow slips through the non-hole for a good gain.
Result: 4 yd gain

3rd Qtr 14:04, 2nd and 11 @SF19
Formation: Shotgun-I, Hunter behind Kaep
Play: Hunter up the middle
Breakdown: Good blocking intially and there is a hole, but Iupati completely whiffs on linebacker Nick Perry at the second level and the hole closes quickly.
Result: 2 yd gain

3rd Qtr 12:19, 2nd and 1 @GB48
Formation: Jumbo, no wide receivers, Gore and Miller in the backfield
Play: Gore off right guard
Breakdown: Snyder gets beat by Neal outside, Anthony Davis gets beat by AJ Hawk inside and Miller blocks no one, but they all at least get in the way of the blitzing ends/linebackers enough for Gore to squeeze out a first down, proving that 50% of blocking is just occupying space. :)
Result: 2 yd gain

3rd Qtr 10:58, 1st and 10 @GB16
Formation: Shotgun offset-I. Gore deep, Miller to Kaep's right
Play: Gore off right guard
Breakdown: Goodwin gets beat by Pickett, but Gore is by him before he can affect the play. Rest of the line does well in blocks, but AJ Hawk is left free. He meets Gore in the hole and Gore bounces right off his tackle attempt, churning forward for a good gain. Tough, hardscrabble running by Gore.
Result: 5 yd gain

3rd Qtr 7:41, 1st and 10 @SF35
Formation: Pistol, Gore deep, McDonald to Kaep's right, Miler to the left
Play: Gore up the middle, hey-diddle-diddle
Breakdown: Goodwin cannot handle Pickett 1-on-1. Not sure why they think he can. Goodwin is pushed into the hole, causing Miller and McDonald to be a little late on their blocks so that they're blocking IN the hole instead of past it at the second level. Gore again is able to squeeze through the small hole and power his way to another good gain. Miller at least sustains his block through the play once he finds his linebacker target. McDonald's target is impeded a bit, but helps on the tackle.
Result: 5 yd gain

3rd Qtr 3:18, 1st and 10 @SF 36
Formation: Shotgun, offset I, Gore deep, Miller to Kaep's right
Play: Gore off right guard
Breakdown: Goodwin gets beat by BJ Raji this time. Miller ends up blocking no one. Why they're not giving help to Goodwin on these big Pack DLinemen is beyond me.
Result: 1 yd gain

3rd Qtr 1:48, 1st and 10 @GB26
Formation: Shotgun, offset I, Hunter deep, Miller to Kaep's right
Play: Hunter up the middle
Breakdown: Matthews takes the long route to go around Staley and make the tackle, but it works because of his great speed and because, once again, there is no hole because Boone gets stood up by BJ Raji and Anthony Davis by Pickett.
Result: 1 yd gain

4th Qtr 12:31, 1st and 10 @SF34
Formation: Pistol, Gore deep, McDonald to Kaep's right, Miller to the left
Play: Kaep keeper off left tackle
Breakdown: Pack blitzes a cornerback, who Gore blocks, but it causes Kaep to go deeper into the backfield and parallel to the line of scrimmage for too long. Miller gets beat by Neal and Kyle Williams doesn't lay a hand on another Green Bay corner. The play is strung out and Kaep slides and gives himself up in the backfield. Note: the announcers mention it, but it bears repeating here: Kaep is being VERY smart about not taking any unnecessary hits. He's obviously been coached to just go down when the play isn't there, which is exactly how it should be, considering that the 49ers season is probably over if Kaep gets hurt for an extended period of time.
Result: 3 yd loss

4th Qtr 11:43, 2nd and 13 @SF31
Formation: Offset-I, Gore deep, McDonald on left
Play: Gore off left guard
Breakdown: Boone pulls to the left side in order to block the linebacker at the second level, but Matthews causes Vernon Davis so much trouble that Boone doesn't have a clear lane to his target, allowing AJ Hawk to reach Gore untouched. If Boone had been able to reach Hawk, the play would've gone for a good amount of yards.
Result: 1 yd loss

4th Qtr 7:03, 1st and 10 @GB32
Formation: Shotgun, offset-I, Hunter deep, Miller to Kaep's right
Play: Hunter off right tackle
Breakdown: 49ers finally make Green Bay pay for crashing their ends all day. Neal rushes upfield immediately as the play begins, but Miller cuts him and pushes him inside as Hunter bounces outside. Boone makes a nice block on his man, Anthony Davis is at the second level on the linebacker and Vernon Davis takes care of the safety, leaving a huge hole for Hunter, who exploits it with his speed, giving the Niners their best run of the day.
Result: 23 yd gain

4th Qtr 6:25, 1st and Goal @GB9
Formation: Shotgun, offset-I, Gore deep, Miller to front-left of Kaep
Play: Gore off right guard
Breakdown: Once again the Niners make the Packers pay for crashing their ends. This time, Miller ignores Neal as he crashes upfield, taking himself out of the play as Gore flies past him. Miller instead blocks the free linebacker, AJ Hawk, and there are good blocks all along the line. They even give Goodwin help against Pickett as he and Boone team up to flatten him. FINALLY!
Result: 8 yd gain

4th Qtr 5:51, 2nd and Goal @GB1
Formation: I-formation, Gore deep, Miller behind Kaep
Play: Gore off right tackle
Breakdown: Gore is patient as he waits for the pulling Iupati and Kilgore to clear some space and Gore powers his way into the end zone.
Result: Gore touchdown

4th Qtr 4:08, 2nd and 3 @SF41
Formation: I-formation
Play: Gore off right guard
Breakdown: Anthony Davis gets beat by Pickett and he blows up the play.
Result: 1 yd loss

4th Qtr 3:26, 1st and 10 @GB44
Formation: Offset-I
Play: Gore off right tackle
Breakdown: Good blocking by everyone here, including McDonald and Miller and VDavis.
Result: 4 yd gain

4th Qtr 3:11, 2nd and 6 @GB40
Formation: Pistol, Gore to left, Miller to right
Play: Gore off right tackle
Breakdown: Pack brings up a safety late, giving them numbers at the point of attack. Blocking is good, but when Iupati arrives at the hole after pulling, he has two players to block, which isn't gonna work.
Result: 1 yd gain

4th Qtr 3:05, 3rd and 5 @GB39
Formation: Shotgun-I, with Gore behind Kaep
Play: Delayed hand-off to Gore off left guard
Breakdown: Good design to make Green Bay pay for crashing their ends. Blocking was there for a big gain, but Matthews again uses his speed to make up ground, chasing down Gore from behind to keep him from getting a first down.
Result: 3 yd gain

4th Qtr 2:13, 1st and 10 @GB21
Formation: Offset-I
Play: Gore off right guard
Breakdown: Brad Jones makes a good play taking out two blockers and impeding Gore allowing run-blitzing DBs to make the tackle.
Result: No gain

4th Qtr 2:00, 2nd and 10 @GB21
Formation: Offset-I
Play: Gore off right tackle
Breakdown: Miller, McDonald, and Iupati make their blocks and the rest of the line seals the rest, forcing Pack DB to make the tackle.
Result: 4 yd gain

4th Qtr 1:15, 3rd and 6 @GB17
Formation: Pistol-wrinkle, with Gore deep behind Kaep under center, Miller and Kilgore to right and left
Play: Kaep off left tackle
Breakdown: Vernon Davis doesn't block Matthews very well, cutting him, but Matthews recovers quickly and forces Kaep back inside where trailers pick him up. (and yes, Davis gets away with a hold on Matthews' leg)
Result: 2 yd gain

Overall, it was a poor game by the Niners in run-blocking. The Packers had a good scheme and executed it well. Additionally, their off-season acquisitions along the DLine really helped their run defense improve overall. But when push came to shove, at crunch time in the 4th quarter, the 49ers were able to make the proper adjustments and gain solid yardage on the ground.

Green Bay's defense is no slouch and we should have more success running the ball against a team that doesn't have the combination of quality beef inside and panther-quick Matthews on the outside. McDonald is definitely a downgrade from Delanie Walker in blocking, but he does show "want to" when it comes to blocking, which bodes well for his future production. Miller's was perhaps the most disappointing of the performances, as he's been in the system long enough to have shown better in my opinion. He's in on so many snaps that he will have to show better production going forward for the 49ers running game to truly hit its stride.

As for the backs, Frank the Tank looks as fresh as ever, powering his way through tiny holes for gains that few other running backs would get. Hunter has more speed than Gore and is a great complement. We really missed him last year in the playoffs.

Overall grade: C- (the successful running in the 4th quarter keeps this from being a D)

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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