The San Francisco 49ers offense struggled a bit on Friday, but Saturday saw the unit bounce back with some big plays. The most notable was a deep touchdown pass from Brian Hoyer to Marquise Goodwin. The 49ers will likely post some video of the play, but in the meantime, head coach Kyle Shanahan offered some great insight about the play.
Goodwin went down the seam on the play, blowing through some zone coverage. The 49ers used motion to set the play up, and that forced the linebacker and safety to communicate a change in responsibility. In that instant of communication, Hoyer snapped the ball and Goodwin blew past the defense.
Shanahan was asked about the play, and he offered some great detail on why the play worked. We’ve heard plenty about Shanahan’s insight as an offensive coach, and hearing him break this play down is pretty cool. Here’s the three questions and answers about the play. I’ve posted video of the Q&A below.
The one play you referenced earlier, the deep ball to Marquise. What was the defense and why was that play successful?
“I think we hit one on the seam. It was a zone coverage. We motioned to it. You have a safety as a curl-flat player and you have a linebacker as a hook player and when you motion empty they have to switch, and so they change two quick responsibilities and we snap it and they communicate and if, when you talk to someone for half a second and you have a 4.3 guy in the slot and he’s gone, you can’t hesitate. He’s wide open. So, it’s just about going, being fast and changing a little bit of your formation and watching two defensive guys talk. That’s why you’ve got to walk-through so much. That’s why you’ve got to rep. It happens fast and when you want to change something, if there’s any hesitation, they can make you pay.”
Was that a good route for the defense?
“Great route. It’s perfect, and if we wouldn’t have had that play called, they would have never saw that and then people are like, ‘No, you’ve got to communicate. Great.’ Yeah, we got it. You don’t really know until you can make them pay and now they know, ‘Yeah, [defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh’s right we do have to communicate pretty fast.’ What if they had that called? So, those are the things you hope for for both sides of the ball. Makes the offense feels good, but I guarantee the next time we do that formation of play, they’ll cover it.”
Do they read the quarterback to see if they see the guys talk to each other?
“No, it’s a zone. So, the safety’s in the middle field and you throw to the seam away from the guy. They should have a guy carrying it and then you check it down to a back. The guy didn’t carry it so he’s wide open. If he would have, the ball would have gone to Trent Taylor over the ball versus zone.”