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49ers vs. Seahawks: Alex Smith to Randy Moss interception

We break down Alex Smith's interception during the 49ers-Seahawks game, on a pass intended for Randy Moss.


Thanks to only having one game on Thursday, the folks at NFL Game Rewind were able to quickly turn around the game on the Coaches Film. With the 49ers having Sunday off, I thought I'd start taking a look at some plays, focusing specifically on things people suggested in the call for plays thread.

I'm starting with a fairly basic play that doesn't really require rocket science to figure out. It is Alex Smith's end zone interception on a pass intended for Randy Moss. A 37-yard Frank Gore run had set the 49ers up deep in Seahawks territory. On first and goal at the eight, Kendall Hunter picked up two yards. Colin Kaepernick then came on with a read option run and was stopped for a one-yard loss. Alex Smith came back on and proceeded to throw an interception.


It is not easy to see, but Alex Smith is looking at the receiver on the bottom of the screen at the same moment Randy Moss is breaking across the back of the end zone.


This next picture is the TE-to-TE film a split second later with Alex Smith starting to move his head back to the middle of the play where Randy Moss would appear.


Alex Smith has begun scrambling to his left. Ideally I would have gotten this in GIF form, but that was unavailable during the day today. Right before this picture, Smith was sort of slide-stepping to the left while looking for somebody. It is worth noting that even though we see Moss wide open, this is coming from a higher angle, so we can't tell the exact view Alex has at this point. There are several Seahawks defenders in front of Moss. From this view, a high pass would seem to do the trick, but it is entirely possible Smith's view was blocked by those defenders. We can't tell for certain.


Smith has finished his scrambling left and turn to throw across his body to Moss. Moss seems open, and there are no defenders close to Smith. If Smith slows to get into a slightly better throwing motion, he gets off a better pass, but the window of opportunity might have closed by then.


Smith fires the pass and Brandon Browner on the far left disengages from Frank Gore. Moss is wide open, but.....


The interception occurs. In the bottom left of the screen, you can actually see Jim Harbaugh with the view of the interception, almost looking over Smith's shoulder on the play. Coach Harbaugh was asked about the play after the game:

"Well, I saw what he saw exactly, because I was kind of right behind him. And saw I [WR] Randy [Moss] open in the backend of the end zone. And would have made the same decision as he made to throw it. The only thing would have been to throw it high. Get it up high where you take the interception out of the equation."

Alex was asked about the interception as well and had a few comments about it:

The interception, was it a run around play?

"Yeah, it was, they were dropping out their coverage call. Primary guys were not there. I was even conscious of this, I knew they play that down there. A couple teams had chances to score on similar plays like that earlier in the year. Run around and try to make a play. It's tough running left as a right-hand quarterback, throw the ball back across your body is usually not good. You know, trying to make a play."

What is it that [Seattle Seahawks defense] does down there?

"They were just dropping out, it's every team you play in the red zone. You get the tail of two worlds, they either pressure you, drop out, it just depends. Protection was great and I know you could potentially make a play with you feet, move around and maybe find someone open and let someone work."

Coach Harbaugh said he saw the same thing as you for the interception. Was it just not high enough, what happened?

"Just different levels. [WR] Randy [Moss] is running the back of the end zone [CB Brandon] Browner is occupied with either [RB] Frank [Gore] or [RB] Kendall [Hunter] in the front corner. You're trying to look for the window and he steps into it, you're just not seeing everything. So that's it."

It sounds like he didn't really see Brandon Browner going to step into the pass. Maybe he was expecting Browner to remain occupied by Gore? Otherwise I'm not sure how he doesn't see him, particularly with no pressure right in his face. Coach Harbaugh suggested the throw should have been higher, while Smith seemed to think the throw was otherwise fine, just based on his comments immediately after the game.

In my mind it seems like it should have been more like "Sprint Right Option" in "The Catch", where the QB is firing it high enough where only your receiver can catch it, or it goes out of bounds. There is nothing really crazy to take from this, other than it was a bad throw.