A Look at 49ers Personnel Groupings vs. Seattle

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at some data from the 49ers vs. Seahawks game with regard to personnel. New to Niners Nation? Sign up here and join the discussion!

One of the things I've been doing lately is harvesting data from the NFL, more specifically, what they call "Lineup Detail" info. That translates to personnel groupings, ie. who's on the field together, for how many snaps, runs vs. passes, yards gained in grouping, etc.

It's helpful because it shows us who played with who, and what plays the team ran from certain groupings. There isn't a ton of detail beyond what I've mentioned, but it gives us a good picture of some things. I figured I'd post some items I found interesting from the 49ers week two game in Seattle, so here we go.

The 49ers ran the ball six times from 21 personnel (two backs, one tight end), with Vernon Davis as the tight end, Bruce Miller as the FB, and Frank Gore as the RB. This was the most often-used grouping from which the 49ers ran the ball on Sunday.

They averaged 5.27 yards per rush from that grouping, but most of those were runs by Colin Kaepernick. In fact, everyone not named "Kaepernick" averaged just 1.18 yards rushing on the day.

Seven pass plays were run from that same grouping for an average of 9.41 yards per play. It was clear that the 49ers wanted to keep a FB on the field in order to keep more of Seattle's DBs on the sideline. They missed on throws to FB/RB quite often, though. There were four incompletions to running backs (including Miller) in the game.

The next most utilized grouping was 12 personnel (single back, two tight ends) with Vance McDonald and Davis as the TEs, and Gore the tailback. This grouping yielded five passes and two runs, averaging 5.4yds/pass and 5.0yds/run. Kaepernick ran from this formation for success, too (as previously noted, nobody else did much of anything on the ground). The passing game clearly was not quite so successful from this grouping.

Six times the 49ers brought Quinton Patton on the field in a three-wide-receiver set. On four of these occasions the play was a pass, averaging 1.26yds/play. Sorta telegraphed their intentions there. The other two plays were runs by Kendall Hunter and Kap. Hunter lost seven yards on his lone carry.

Speaking of Patton, he was involved in 12 total plays, nine of which were passes that averaged just over three yards per play (not all thrown to Patton, who only had a single target, which was incomplete). Again, the trend was that if Patton was on the field, it's a pass.

On the defensive side, NaVorro Bowman played every snap, as well as four on special teams. Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier got on the field later in the game for six snaps, along with C.J. Spillman subbing for Donte Whitner.

Your special teams snap-count winner was Spillman with TWENTY-TWO! Anthony Dixon, Raymond Ventrone, Skuta, Tramaine Brock and Michael Wilhoite each added 17 special teams snaps. Demarcus Dobbs had 15, as well.

The 49ers were predominantly in their Nickel package throughout the game. Ian Williams played just one snap, the fateful one that resulted in a season-ending ankle injury. He had also played one snap on offense prior to that.

It seems to me that the 49ers wanted to face Seattle's base defensive personnel, yet they chose not to run the ball often once they saw Frank Gore repeatedly stuffed at the line. Still, it seems as though they should have stuck with that plan and also allowed for Kap to run the ball himself a bit more often. He was the team's leading rusher not only in total yards, but yards per carry.

There were also giant lanes in the passing game through which Kap could have run to either extend the play or get some yards on the ground. It seemed as though he was determined to win the game with his arm, though, which we all know didn't turn out too well.

With all of the backs and tight ends on the field for the 49ers, I'm still a bit surprised they weren't able to get more completions underneath, where Seattle was mostly playing zone or using linebackers in man coverage. In either case you would expect Vernon Davis to have his opportunities with wide receivers driving their man coverage deep down the field. That or McDonald/Miller/Gore running into the flat or across the field vs. a LB for what should have been an easy completion.

I've yet to fully analyze the All-22 film on the passing game, but I intend to. It will be interesting to see how the film compares to these personnel stats in terms of telling us what the 49ers wanted to do, weren't able to do, and why.

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