The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a tough loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. A loss made in part by pass-catchers dropping passes left and right. Tight end George Kittle had one catch he may want back, but he also made up for it with a wonderful 82-yard gem that may be the highlight of the day. Roll it!
So what exactly was that? Why that was a play from the Kyle Shanahan playbook known as none other than “H3, 2Y, Knot X Go.” Yeah, it sounds like the name of an influenza strain, but that’s the difficulty of Shanahan’s playbook for you. There’s a few hundred of those plays, and a quarterback has to remember all of them. Which explains why it’s so difficult to master it within one season.
Kyle Shanahan was asked about this specific play at his press conference Monday:
Is that a west coast offense concept, play?
Is that something former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh would’ve used?
“I don’t think it was in his 1985 playbook. I’m not sure. They probably would’ve called it ‘Hound Two.’ But, yeah I don’t think they did that. I don’t know.”
Can you take me through the play, what Kittle did, how he won?
“It was a zone play. So, all he tried to do was not show that he was running a seam so he ran a nod instead. When you run a seam, the safety carries you. When you run a 10-yard out, he doesn’t. So, you try to make it look like that. That’s why he was wide open. It was zone coverage. Then, it’s up to C.J. to look the middle-third player off to get him to defend a go-route, which was on the left side. The O-Line gave him enough time to move his eyes to the right, to the left and to come back to the right. So, he moved the coverage well, which got Kittle open. He was wide open just by the coverage and the quarterback, then Kittle did a hell of a job making it into a touchdown.”
Scheme talks like these are so refreshing. They never came out during the Jim Harbaugh days, despite fan curiosity on the matter. In any case, that’s “H3, 2Y, Knot X Go.” Save it and tell your friends. Run it in Madden. Who needs Spider 2 Y-Banana when you got that?
Back to Kittle: He finished the Chargers game with six receptions for 125 yards which includes that 82 yard dime. He didn’t just have a good Week 4, he’s having a good season. Four games in and he’s the top-rated tight end with a 90.0 grade, per Pro Football Focus. For the curious, O.J. Howard is second at 86.9 and big-name Travis Kelce is fourth at 81.1. In just his second season, Kittle is having a career year, and is on pace for 1,263 receiving yards—which would be a franchise record for receiving yards by a 49ers tight end.
To add more to Kittle-mania, he also made PFF’s Week 4 Team of the Week. He also did this in Week 3.
We’re four games in but Kittle has become an absolute steal from the 2017 draft. He was taken in the fifth round and if this play keeps up he should have been taken a lot sooner.