Browns vs 49ers: An In Depth Personnel Formation Matchup Analysis

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Pat's Note: Agree or disagree, I applaud the research and obvious time it took to put this together

In the NFL, games are dictated by matchups. Not just the garden variety mano y mano OBJ vs Sherm type but the DC vs OC personnel formation usage and tendencies. Some teams are great at defending against the pass in 11 (1RB-1TE) personnel like the Pats and surprisingly the 49ers!!. Some teams overuse 10 personnel (4WRs) like Arizona. This is the reason why you see Browns get blown out one day (vs TEN) and then stomping the Ravens couple weeks after. Some teams just matchup better from a personnel / scheme perspective compared to others.

This information is only available in one place..for free too! from Warren Sharp one of the best analytics guys in the game who is the source of info for a lot of the big betting syndicates (meaning his info moves betting lines).

In todays analysis i'll be going over personnel grouping frequency and success based on his data for offense and defense for the Browns and 49ers and show you why the 49ers should be favored by A LOT more then 3.5pts. This is next level stuff, beyond what those DVOA stats that SEAGULLS love to bring up (Zing!)


Throughout week 1-3 we've heard about how bad Baker was and there was no protection and offense regressed etc. What actually happened was that the browns offense changed to use 11 personnel exclusively for both pass and run and they were horrible because the OL had no help. compare this to 2018 when they used more 12 and 13 personnel.

11 personnel 12 personnel 13 personnel
2019 wk1-3 Personnel Usage 84% 13% 0%
2018 Season Usage 62% 17% 14%

Surprise!...Baker had more time to throw with heavy packages in 2018, ran the ball better and got a lot of hype in the offseason. The browns realized their mistake last week and went back to their 2018 play book and look at their personnel snap percentage vs Ravens. They went back to their 2018 play calling and got results! It also helped that Ravens are one of the worst teams at defending against 11 personnel (more on that later)

11 personnel 12 personnel 13 personnel
2019 wk4 Personnel Usage 59% 34% 5%

So that means we're in trouble right? well lets break this down some more into run/play tendencies out of these formations and their success rates. Browns got all of their big plays out of 12 and 13 formations in wk4, but unfortunately this is a big tell.

11 personnel 12 personnel 13 personnel
Pass Snap 69% 32% 33%
Pass success 38% 71% 0%
Run Snap 31% 68% 67%
Run Success 34% 40% 50%

This reveals that browns have a VERY HIGH tendency to run from 12 and 13 personnel, almost 70% of the time as well as passing 70% of the time from 11 personnel. You can bet your ass that DCs can key in on this tendency in an age where its all of about disguising your play intentions.

Also note that Browns aren't very successful overall out of 11 personnel. In fact they have one of the lowest success rates in the league out of 11 (Tied with the JETS and CIN). When the OL has no help in pass pro or run blocking, Baker and Chubb gets harassed. Talking heads were right!


Browns are coached by Steve Wilks of 2018 Cards fame (YIKES) and his team provided plenty of obstacles last year for us. But in the end its still a young browns team that hasn't played the 49ers. Lets look at the personnel snap counts and success rates against this browns D in 2019. I included 21 personnel and 22 you guys know why :) ?

11 personnel 12 personnel 21 personnel 22 personnel
Opp Personnel usage 63% 16% 7% 0%
Opp Pass Success 38% 44% 71%
Opp Run Success 56% 52% 10%

Browns defense against 11 is on par with OAK in terms of opponents success rate. What we also see is that Browns RARELY faced 22 or 21 personnel. This holds true even for the entire 2018 season (they only defended against this in 5% of their snaps).

This team just hasn't had a lot of practice against teams that run a lot of 21 or 22 personnel because there's only 2 teams in the league that use these formations as their staple. NE is one of them can you name the other one? Browns gave up the pass A LOT when opponents went 21 meaning 2RB or 1FB+1RB...hmm play-action anyone?

Now I wonder if there's a team in the league that's uses 21 and 22 personnel and is REALLY GOOD at it...Stay Tuned for PART2!!!!


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