The San Francisco 49ers will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, and while we've had plenty to say about that game, I have one more article to look back at San Francisco's opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Carlos Hyde put up a stupid amount of yardage in that game, and the 49ers were praised for relatively strong offensive line play, excellent play-calling and creative blocking schemes.
I'm not going to get into too many specifics with the blocking schemes myself, but I did make a few GIFs of some of the solid blocking on display on Monday and thought I'd share them with everyone. I thought Bruce Miller laid out multiple strong blocks in his very limited playing time, Vance McDonald looked excellent as a blocker, Garrett Celek even got his licks in and Jarryd Hayne was surprisingly strong in blitz pickup.
It was a strong game all around in that vein, and I'm going to showcase a few of the plays below. First, we'll start with this killer Miller block:
Miller was only in on 11 offensive snaps in Week 1, and while I maintain that he's an under-utilized asset overall, I can't argue with the play of the people above him at fullback. It allows the 49ers to easily transition between two tight ends on the line, and some variation of an I-formation when someone like McDonald is in at fullback. That said, this Miller block is classic him. He leads Hyde, he takes out his guy cleanly and with force, and Hyde is sprung for a solid gain.
So let's check in on Carlos Hyde shall we? This is Hyde on blitz pickup, and he handles it very well, taking out his man. That allows Colin Kaepernick to make the short throw to Anquan Boldin for a solid gain. (Discerning readers pointed out I had this one mislabeled. I don't know which Hayne block I meant to put here, but here's one below)
After the game, 49ers coaches praised Hayne's blitz pickup and it's easy to see why from the play above. On Sunday against the Steelers, Hayne will be the primary backup running back to Hyde, and I bet the 49ers feel pretty comfortable with him back there.
Speaking of Hayne, he also had a solid run on Monday, which we'll throw in here for good fun. I like this play specifically because the 49ers are so very quick at getting to the second level and throwing their blocks. This is AGGRESSIVE blocking, and I think at times teams can be too passive in trying to set up holes and gains. With Hayne, you want to throw a bunch of big guys in there really fast and let his natural instincts take over. He definitely takes what the blocking originally had as a 3-yard gain or so and gives it a couple extra yards.
This is a play in which the blocking from the tight ends shine. Vernon Davis correctly gets his man turned outside and then both Celek and McDonald start getting some solid push in there. Specifically, nearer the end of the play, I like that the 49ers are still pushing, they're shoving every single guy they can possibly get their hands on. Speaking of shoving ...
McDonald completely blowing his man up on the far side of this play is pretty great. Even better is that he also shoves down Davis' guy before going to his own. If you blink you'll miss it, but on his way outside, McDonald just gives Davis' guy a shove, and then proceeds to push No. 29 back several yards, giving Hyde some more room to pick up the first down and a big, big gain.