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49ers Offensive Game-Planning And WR Formation Analysis

Florida Danny put together his first post for Football Outsiders today in which he analyzed offensive formations in 2010 and particularly the use of wide receivers. In his post he broke down use of 0-1 wide receivers, two wide receivers, three wide receivers and 4-5 wide receivers. He posted a table with percentage of use for each formation, DVOA for each formation and the rank of each number within the league.

The 49ers came out as follows (ranking in parenthesis):

0-1 WRs
Frequency: 16%
DVOA: -3.6% (15)

2 WRs
Frequency: 41%
DVOA: 6.3% (18)

3 WRs
Frequency: 37%
DVOA: -7.8% (27)

4-5 WRs
Frequency: 6%
DVOA: -2.1% (15)

One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that those receiver formations do not count Vernon Davis or Delanie Walker as wide receivers, even when they have been split out. Apparently FO's game-charting made a decision to objectively exclude tight ends from the equation. Accordingly that might explain the middle of the pack ranking for 0-1 WRs. Well, the tight ends combined with Frank Gore's own success when in on such plays.

As the 49ers move ahead in the Jim Harbaugh offense, one project I think would be interesting to take on would be tracking 49ers offensive and defensive formations under Jim Harbaugh's coaching staff. Hopefully Harbaugh is here for the long haul and the team develops into the force we'd all like to see. The lockout has created some problems for the 49ers getting ready for 2011, which could mean this year turns into more of a developmental or transition year. However, that doesn't mean we can't track the formations and see what kinds of conclusions we can make about the team's performance.

FO will have more of these formation analysis posts in the coming weeks. If they discuss tight end heavy formations at some point I'll make sure and link to it for some discussion.