Kyle Williams Week 1 targets against the Packers

I read Wes Hanson's very nice post on the advanced stats of Kyle Williams and some of the lower profile players, read some requests for analysis of All-22, thought "I've just got All-22, why not use it", and came up with this post, my first on Niners Nation. I'm a long-time Niners fan but have absolutely no expertise (being British, I've never played a down at any level), which is another way of saying that my analysis and/or use of jargon is likely to be frequently wrong. I figure that this is okay as there is plenty of room for you all to correct me in the comments.

1st Quarter, 13:20, 1st and 10 at SF 27, Packers 0 49ers 0

KW was the only player lined up left of the LT, about three yards outside the numbers. Kaepernick very briefly looked right to misdirect the defense, then threw to the left sideline 7 yards deep. The pass fell out of reach of KW who had just broken to the sideline.

This was the first offensive play from scrimmage, and I'm pretty sure KW was the only read. For the 49ers to choose this play to open the season, the timing must have been consistently good in practice. Either KW broke to the sideline too late, or, more likely, CK threw early to ensure that there was no possibility of a pick-six. It would have been too risky to delay the pass any longer as the cornerback (Tramon Williams) had good coverage.

In summary, KW may have been at fault for the lack of timing, but it's impossible to be sure.

1st Quarter, 5:36, 3rd and 1 at GB 33, Packers 0 49ers 0

KW lined up in much the same place as on his earlier target, with Bruce Miller inside at TE. Despite the down-and-distance, the coverage was soft enough for CK to drill the ball to KW on his first read 3 yards past the 1st down marker. A cut inside Miller didn't lead to much YAC (6 yard gain on the play).

In summary, KW helped keep a scoring drive going, though CK made his job relatively easy.

2nd Quarter, 13:37, 1st and 10 at GB 48, Packers 7 49ers 7

KW was the only player lined up right of the RT, about three yards outside the numbers (arguably in the neutral zone, but it wasn't called). He put a couple of moves on the cornerback (Sam Shields), during which there was a little incidental contact, and ran a go-route. KW was clearly the primary target, as CK's eyes were on him for almost the entire play. KW beat the cornerback, but not by much, so the pass needed to be perfect. As it was, it landed at the 13 yard line, a couple of yards out of reach.

In summary, the pass was overthrown, which was much better than being underthrown. If KW did anything wrong, it was to not beat the cornerback in single coverage more emphatically than he did.

2nd Quarter, 0:09, 1st and 10 at SF 40, Packers 14 49ers 14

KW lined up on the right, and made a nice 14 yard catch at his feet before rolling out of bounds to stop the clock. There's not much point in further analysis expect to say that the completion was uncontested. The Packers were prepared to give it up with such little time left in the half.

3rd Quarter, 3:49, 1st and 10 at SF 20, Packers 21 49ers 21

KW lined up on the left, in the same place as his first two targets, with Boldin inside. Boldin ran about 8 yards downfield and turned around. KW rounded him and turned towards the centre of the field. This caused the Packers, in zone coverage, to lose KW as the defensive backs initially lined up on KW and Boldin (Williams and Jerron McMillian, respectively) both briefly focused on Boldin. CK, having first made a read to the right, quickly saw this and made the throw 15 yards downfield.

Unfortunately, the pass was slightly in front of KW and he decided he needed to go to ground in catching it, giving the defense time to close and limit the play to 16 yards. KW was in acres of space, and if CK had hit him in stride, this would have been a big play, possibly even a touchdown. Even with the pass that was thrown, there are certain great receivers in the 49ers' past who would have been able to keep their feet in making the catch and pick up a lot of useful YAC.

In summary, this was KW's most successful play by the metric of yards gained, but also arguably the most flawed. Due to small imperfections by both Kaepernick and Williams, it fell a long way short of its potential.

4th Quarter, 11:10, 3rd and 14 at SF 30, Packers 21 49ers 24

KW lined up on the right, three yards outside the numbers. There were three other receivers on the play, but none ran routes close to him. I think KW was the primary target, although it could have been Vernon Davis inside. The cornerback in single coverage (Shields) hung around the distance needed for the first down, and KW beat him deep with ease.

This was another potential touchdown, but the pass was significantly underthrown, giving the cornerback time to make up the necessary five yards. In fact, he arrived just too early and caught KW's arm rather than the ball, causing the incompletion. In fairness to the officials, it was very close, and the commentators watched several replays without spotting the pass interference.

In summary, Kaepernick erred here and, as a result, only managed 412 passing yards on the day. KW did everything very right on this play except hanging on through pass interference, but I don't think many receivers would have managed that.


This doesn't leave us any the wiser about the plays on which KW wasn't targeted, but on the basis of this small sample size, I would conclude: (1) The Packers didn't have much respect for Williams' ability to beat them deep, which makes Boldin's and Davis's numbers all the more impressive; (2) He did beat them deep twice, and was not at fault for the incompletions, and a third play could have been a big gain (that it wasn't was partly his fault); (3) While he didn't have a great game, the negative advanced stats he accrued probably aren't a fair reflection of his performance when targeted.

P.S. I considered including images from NFL Game Pass, but was not willing to do the necessary research to work out whether this would be legal or acceptable, so I erred on the side of caution. I know that I wouldn't be the first to post All-22 images, but others may have different sources.

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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