The San Francisco 49ers first-team offense did not get a lot of work on Saturday against the Houston Texans. Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, Carlos Hyde, Joe Staley and Erik Pears all got five snaps, an Torrey Smith got four snaps. There is very little we can take from such a short appearance, but with the preseason, every snap is going to get over-analyzed.
And so, I thought it would be fun to look at one Colin Kaepernick throw and see what we could make of it. It's the throw Kap attempted to Torrey Smith. The 49ers had a 1st and 10 on their own 18-yard line. Kap lined up with two wide receivers, two tight ends and a running back. The team ran a play action fake, and Kap went deep to Smith. James Brady put together a pair of GIFs on the play. The first shows the play from the basic TV view:
The second view shows the play from a replay that was focused on Smith. The 49ers lined him up to the left of the line of scrimmage. He was split out, but not too far out. It appears he ran a bit of a post pattern, and proceeded to blow through the secondary.
Obviously we can't put too much into one play, but given the 49ers recent history, there are some interesting things about it. The most prominent is Smith's speed. The 49ers primary deep threat the last four years has been Vernon Davis. He has strong speed, but when he went deep, more often than not he would go up over a pair of defenders. Linebackers were too slow, while cornerbacks and safeties have been too small. It wasn't a traditional blow the top off the coverage.
The last time the 49ers had a guy with this kind of deep speed was probably Randy Moss. While Moss did not have a huge year in San Francisco, he got respect from secondaries. We saw him break deep for big plays on occasion, and even when the team wasn't throwing to him, defenses keep a close eye on him. Brandon Lloyd could do some things deep, but he seemed even closer to the end last year.
Smith could provide the 49ers best deep threat since the Steve Mariucci era. That opens up so much more underneath, whether it be Anquan Boldin's shorter routes, Reggie Bush coming out of the backfield, or Vernon Davis and others in the middle of the field. The offensive line will need to hold up, but if the 49ers can get a solid run game going, the 49ers have a chance to present a nicely balanced offense. Again, this is only one play, but I don't think it's entirely crazy to extrapolate this kind of stuff.
Kap and Smith are still going to have to work toward getting on the same page. They have been working together since the offseason workout program back in the spring. It's a developing process, and ideally when they run this kind of thing in the fall, they are connecting more often than not. In the meantime, the deep ball is officially on film for opposing teams to consider. They know Smith has great deep speed, and they know Kap has the arm to get it to him anywhere on the field. It opens up all sorts of possibilities.