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Breaking down the box score: The numbers say the 49ers shut down Tampa Bay

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Using EPA, success rate, and some stats that I charted to go as in-depth as it gets regarding the 49ers win over the Bucs

NFL: SEP 08 49ers at Buccaneers Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that we have actual San Francisco 49ers game film, we can use analytics and stats to take a deeper dive into the box score. I was talking to my buddy from Bleeding Green Nation, Michael Kist, who did something similar on the Eagles offense. In today’s world, stats like completion percentage, total yards, tackles, and so many more don’t come close to telling the truth about what really happened during the game. For example, Tarvarius Moore was second on the team in tackles, but only one of those was a “stop,” so that doesn’t mean he had a good game. That just means he made a lot of tackles seven and eight yards or more down the field. That isn’t what Robert Saleh wants. That’s just an example, as I thought Moore did a nice job of being aggressive as a tackler.

Advanced Box Score

I’m going to throw a lot at you, and talk through it as I’m doing so. Ben Baldwin of The Athletic puts together box scores every Sunday that include EPA, success rate, and first down rate. The simplest way to describe them when you are looking at the stats at face value is any negative number is bad, and a positive number is good. The higher/lower each number, the better/worse off that player is. Here is a detailed, concise explanation:

The value of any individual play can be calculated as Expected Points Added (EPA), the difference in EP before and after a given play. Having EPA as a currency allows all sorts of different play results and events to be compared apples-to-apples, taking into account the fluctuating value of yards and downs as the other changes. And this allows for really interesting analysis when applied on a holistic level. For example, EPA shows that a “staying ahead of the chains” run of 4 yards on first down is most often a negative play. The rare exceptions include plays at the outer end of field goal range.

Here is success rate defined:

Success Rate-Defense: The percentage of plays targeting a defensive player on which the offense did not have a successful play. This means not only incomplete passes and interceptions, but also short completions that do not meet the 45%/60%/100% baseline for success detailed in the description of DVOA. Success Rate for defensive players plays a much larger role in our book than it does on the website during the season, because it is based on game charting data, which takes a couple of weeks to collect after each week’s games.

The baseline is vital here. Later on, you’ll see “failed completions.” Deebo Samuel catching a six-yard screen on 3rd & 9 is an example of a failed completion.

Now, the box score from Sunday. Baldwin is only able to pull offensive statistics at this point.

The 49ers offense has to be better on early downs. Penalties didn’t do them any favors, but getting behind the chains hurt their ability to move the ball in the first half. A Kyle Shanahan led offense should never be below zero in terms of EPA per play. The offense was much better on later downs, thanks in large part to George Kittle, who picked up right where he left off.

Jimmy Garoppolo was right around average, which is fine, for now.

This is where EPA has its limitations, as the running backs made the most of their touches, but there weren’t many creases to run through.

It also only involves when you have the ball in your hands. For example, if Richie James never gets thrown the ball on his touchdown, and, say, Marquise Goodwin does, James would have a much lower EPA.

Winston’s stat line is hilariously bad. That shows you how dominant the defense was. The secondary stayed tight to Tampa’s wide receivers, while the pass rush was consistently forcing Winston to flee the pocket. Aside from a couple of drives in the second half where the Bucs were able to run the ball, it’s tough to complain about how the defense performed.

Here is a look at the 49ers compared to the rest of the NFL:

We know the offense will catch up after we saw how Shanahan was able to move the ball with Nick Mullens. It’s a small sample size, but man, if the defense can come anywhere near this type of performance consistently, they’ll be in great shape every game.

Offensive personnel groups

There were 67 total snaps for the 49ers offense on Sunday. Here are the personnel groups:

11 personnel(1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WRs): 21 plays. Success rate: 23%

21 personnel(2 RBs, 1 TE, 2 WRs): 21 plays. Success rate: 48%

22 personnel(2 RBs, 2 TEs, 1 WR: 6 plays. Success rate: 83%

12 personnel(1 RB, 2 TEs, 2 WRs) 7 plays. Success rate: 14%

The Niners used pre-snap motion on 58% of their plays. Moving is a great way to make the defense adjust before and after the snap while hiding your offensive tendencies. For example, the 49ers come out in 21 personnel, and motion Juszczyk out of the backfield, and now it looks like you’re in a “trey” or “trips” set. The defense has to adjust, and you are going to run the play you initially planned the entire time. For comparison, Tampa Bay only motioned 30% of the time.

My box score

Here’s what I put together from the game. Going down the line, whether the 49ers offense or defense has the ball, the down, and distance, yard line, if the offense was in shotgun, personnel, and so on. P/A stands for play-action.

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Play # O/D D&D Yard line Shotgun Y/N O Personnel D Personnel Run/Pass Success Rate Blitz Y/N P/A Gain Motion Concept
Play # O/D D&D Yard line Shotgun Y/N O Personnel D Personnel Run/Pass Success Rate Blitz Y/N P/A Gain Motion Concept
1 D 1&10 24 N 12 Base Run No N N 3 N
2 D 2&7 27 N 12 Base Pass No Y Y 3 N
3 D 3rd & 3 30 Y 11 Nickel Pass No N N 0 N
5 O 2&9 34 N 21 Base Pass Yes N Y 19 N
6 O 1&10 13 N 22 Base Run Yes N N 5 Y
7 2&5 Penalty
8 O 2&15 18 Y 11 Base Pass No N N 0 N Scissors/China
9 O 3rd &15 18 Y 11 Nickel Pass No N N 7 N Screen
11 D 2&9 Penalty
12 D 1&10 35 N 12 Base Pass N N Y 0 Y
13 D 2&10 35 N 11 Nickel R Yes N N 14 N
14 D 1&10 49 N 11 Nickel R No Y N 0 N
15 D 2&10 49 Y 11 Nickel Pass No N N 0 N
16 D 3&10 Penalty 49
17 D 1&10 SF 46 N 12 Base Pass No No Y 0 Y
18 D 2&10 SF 46 Y 11 Nickel Run No No N 3 N
19 D 3&7 Penalty
20 D 3&12 SF 48 Y 11 Nickel Pass No No No 0 N
22 O 1&10 SF 21 N 21 Base Pass Yes Yes No 7 Y
23 O 2&3 SF 28 N 11 Base Pass No No No 2 No Screen
24 O 3&1 SF 30 N 21 Base Run No Yes No -1 Yes
26 D 2&4 TB 23 N 11 Base Run No No No -1 No
27 D 3&5 TB 22 Y 11 Nickel Pass Yes Yes No 5 Y
28 D 1st & 10 TB 27 N 12 Base Run Yes No Yes 16 Yes
29 D 1st & 10 TB 43 N 22 Base Run No No No 3 No
30 D 2&7 TB 46 N 12 Base Run Yes Yes No 4 Yes
31 D 3&3 Penalty
32 D 1&10 SF 30 N 13 Base Pass No No Yes -4 Yes
33 D 2&14 SF 34 Y 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 15 No
34 D 1&10 SF 19 N 13 Base Run No No No 2 No
35 D 2& 8-Penalty
36 D 2 & 17 SF 26 Y 11 Nickel Pass No No No 0 No
37 D 3rd & 17 SF 26 Y 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 18 No
38 D 1 & 8 SF 8 N 22 Base Run No No No -1 No
39 D 2 & 9 SF 9 N 12 Base Pass No No Yes 0 No
40 D 3rd & 9 SF 9 Penalty
41 D 3rd & 10 SF 19 Y 11 Nickel Pass No No No 10 No
43 O 2nd & 10 SF 8 No 21 Base Run No No No -2 Yes Stretch
44 O 3rd & 12 SF 6 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 14 Yes
45 O 1st & 10 SF 20 No 21 Base Run No No No 1 Yes
46 O 2nd & 18 SF 12 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No INT Yes
48 O 1st & 10 TB 44 No 21 Base Run No No No 3 Yes
49 O 2nd & 7 TB 41 Yes 11 Nickel Run No Yes No 4 Yes
50 O 3rd & 3 TB 37 Yes 11 Nickel Run No Yes No 1 Yes
51 O 4th & 2-Penalty
52 O 1st & 10 TB 31 Y 21 Base Pass Yes No No 7 Yes
53 O 2nd & 3 TB 24 Y 21 Base Run No Yes No 0 No Ran into a blitz
54 O 3rd & 3-Penalty TB 24
55 O 1st & 10-Penalty TB 15
56 O 1st & 17 TB 22 Y 12 Base Pass No No No 0 Yes
57 O 2nd & 17-Penalty
58 O 2nd & 22 TB 27 Y 11 Nickel Pass No No No 9 No China Spot
59 O 3rd & 13 TB 18 Y 11 Nickel Pass No No No 0 No
62 O 2nd & 5 TB 24 NO 21 Base Run Yes Yes No 4 Yes Toss
63 O 3rd & 1 TB 20 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes Yes Yes 1 Yes Shovel Pass
64 O 1st & 10 TB 19 No 11 Nickel Pass No Yes Yes -8 No
65 O 2nd & 18 TB 27 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 0 Yes Screen
66 O 3rd & 18 TB 27 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 2 Yes Fumble
67 O 1st & 10 SF 25 No 21 Base Run No No No 2 No Stretch
68 O 2nd & 8 SF 27 No 12 Base Pass No No Yes 0 Yes
69 O 3rd & 8 SF 27 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes Yes No 10 Yes Spacing
70 O 1st & 10 SF 37 No 12 Base Run No Yes No 0 Yes Stretch-Ran into a blitz
71 O 2nd & 10 SF 37 No 12 Base Pass No No Yes 0 No
72 O 3rd & 10-Penalty
73 O 1st & 10 TB 39 No 21 Base Run No Yes No 1 Yes
74 O 2nd & 9 SF 40 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No Yes 39 Yes
76 D 2nd & 13 TB 22 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No Yes No 0 No INT
78 D 2nd & 10 TB 25 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 8 Yes
79 D 3rd & 2 TB 33 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 5 No Spacing
80 D 1st & 10 TB 38 No 11 Nickel Pass Yes Yes Yes 5 No
81 D 2nd & 5 TB 43 No 11 Nickel Run Yes No No 5 No
82 D 1ST & 10 TB 48 NO 12 BASE Pass No No Yes -9 No
83 D 2nd & 19 TB 39 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 7 No
84 D 3rd & 12 TB 46 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 28 Yes
85 D 1st & 10 SF 26 No 12 Base Run Yes No No 5 Yes
86 D 2nd & 5 SF 21 No 11 Nickel Run Yes No No 11 No
87 D 1st & 10 SF 10 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No Yes 10 Yes
89 O 1st & 10 SF 35 No 22 Base Run Yes No No 13 Yes Power
90 O 1st & 10 SF 48 No 22 Base Run Yes No No 8 Yes Stretch
91 O 2nd & 2 TB 44 No 22 Base Run Yes No No 5 No IZ
92 O 1st & 10 TB 39 No 22 Base Run No No Yes 0 No
93 O 2nd & 10 TB 39 No 11 Nickel Run No Yes No 0 No IZ
94 O 3rd & 10 TB 39 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No Yes No 0 No
96 D 1st & 10 SF 42 No 12 Base Run Yes Yes No 9 Yes
97 D 2nd & 1 SF 33 No 12 Base Run Yes No No 2 Yes
98 D 1st & 10 SF 31 No 11 Nickel Run Yes No No 7 Yes
99 D 2nd & 3 SF 24 No 11 Nickel Pass Yes No Yes 15 Yes
100 D 1st & 9-Penalty
101 D 2nd & 19 SF 19 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 4 Yes
102 D 3rd & 15 SF 15 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 11 No
103 D 4th & 4-Penalty
104 D 4th & 2 SF 2 Yes *02 Nickel Pass Yes Yes No 0 Yes
106 O 2nd & 7 SF 5 No 21 Base Pass Yes No Yes 6 Yes
107 O 3rd & 1 SF 11 Yes 21 Base Run Yes No No 1 Yes
108 O 1st & 10-Penalty
109 O 1st & 15 SF 7 No 21 Base Run No Yes No 0 No
110 O 2nd & 15 SF 7 No 12 Base Run No Yes No 1 Yes
111 O 3rd & 14-Penalty
112 O 3rd & 18 SF4 Yes 11 Nickel Run No No No 0 No
114 D 2nd & 1-Penalty
115 D 1st & 10 SF 27 No 11 Nickel Run Yes No No 16 Yes
116 D 1st & 10 SF 11 No 11 Nickel Run Yes Yes No 5 No
117 D 2nd & 5 SF 6 No 22 Base Run No No No -2
118 D 3rd & 7 SF 8 No 11 Nickel Pass No No No -5 Yes
120 O 2nd & 10 SF 25 Yes 21 Base Pass Yes Yes No 6 Yes
121 O 3rd & 4 SF 31 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes Yes No 5 Yes
122 O 1st & 10 SF 36 Yes 21 Base Run Yes No No 18 Yes
123 O 1st & 10 TB 31 No 21 Base Run No No No 0 Yes
124 O 2nd & 10 TB 31 No 11 Nickel Run No No No 2 Yes
125 O 3rd & 8 TB 29 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No Yes No 0 No
128 D 2nd & 1 TB 34 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 12 No
129 D 1st & 10 TB 46 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 9 No
130 D 2nd & 1 SF 45 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 4 No
131 D 1st & 10 SF 41 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 0 No
132 D 2nd & 10 SF 41 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 4 NO
133 D 3RD & 6 SF 37 YES 11 Nickel Pass No No No 0
134 D 4th & 6 SF 37 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 0
10-COP D 1&10 18 N 11 Nickel Run No N N 1 Y
105-COP O 1st & 10 SF 2 No 12 Base Run No Yes No 3 Yes
113-COP D 1st & 10 SF 41 No 12 Base Run Yes Yes No 9 Yes
119-COP O 1st & 10 SF 25 No 21 Base Pass No No Yes 0 Yes
126-COP D 1st & 10 TB 21 Yes 11 Nickel Pass No No No 0 No
127-COP D 1st & 10 TB 25 Yes 11 Nickel Pass Yes No No 9 No
21-COP O 1&10 SF 9 N 21 Base Run Yes No No 12 Y Toss
25-COP D 1&10 TB 17 N 21 Base Run Yes No No 6 No
4-COP O 1&10 33 Y 21 Base Run No N N 1 Y
42-COP O 1st & 10 SF 8 No 12 Base Run No No No 0 Yes Toss
47-NP O 1st & 10 SF 25 Yes 21 Base Pass Yes Yes No 31 Yes Mesh
60-COP D 1st & 10 TB 25 No 21 Base Pass No No No 0 Yes Spacing
61-COP O 1st & 10 TB 29 No 12 Base Run Yes No No 5 Yes Toss
75-COP D 1st & 10 TB 25-Fumbled Snap
77-COP D 1st & 10 TB 25 No 12 Base Pass No No No 0 No
88-COP O 1st & 10 SF 25 No 22 Base Run Yes No No 10 Yes Power
95-COP D 1st & 10 TB 47 No 12 Base Run Yes No No 11 No
Half
O 2nd & 9-Penalty SF 21

Sort through the tabs and dig in. Let’s talk about the offense and defense now.

Oh, no

On offense, I keep track of “blown blocks,” which is exactly how it sounds. A player gets beaten, and it’s obvious. I like them a little more than pressures since it’s independent of the player and no outside variables. I keep track of them for the run, pass, and a screen play. A plus block is the opposite. Where a player drives his man out of the hole.

I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal that Marquise Goodwin missed as many blocks as he did, but Shanahan relies on his receivers heavily in the running game. That is why the offense struggled so much on early downs, as the above EPA shows. Those missed blocks were drive killers.

I jotted down the few times the running backs had an opportunity in the open field. In a surprise to nobody, Breida made the defender miss both times. Then there is Jimmy. First, here’s the table.

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Player Blown Block (R) Blown Block (P) Blown Block(S) Plus blocks QB Hit Open field Sack Penalty Throws on Target Throw Behind Throw Late Missed High RZ Target INT Throwaway Drop FMT Failed Reception TD
Player Blown Block (R) Blown Block (P) Blown Block(S) Plus blocks QB Hit Open field Sack Penalty Throws on Target Throw Behind Throw Late Missed High RZ Target INT Throwaway Drop FMT Failed Reception TD
Staley 3
Tomlinson 3 1 2 1
Richburg 4 1
Person 3 1 1
McGlinchey 3 1 2
Kittle 1 2 8 2 3 2 1
Toilolo 1
Dwelley 1
Pettis 1
Samuel 1 1 1 1
Goodwin 5 3 1
Bourne 1 1 1 1
James 1 1 1 1
Coleman 0/1 2 1 1 1 1
Breida 2/2 1 1 2
Mostert 2 1/2 1 1 5
Juszczyk 1 1
Garoppolo

There is a lot of subjectivity here, but I’m pretty lenient. Garoppolo couldn’t seem to get on the same page as Goodwin. There was one play, if you recall, where the offense ran a play-action, and Goodwin caught it, but it was well behind him and prevented him from picking up yards after the catch. Pettis needs to get healthy in a hurry for this passing attack to reach its ceiling.

On Kittle, there’s a strong rapport between him and Jimmy G. Him having the only red-zone targets speaks volumes to the trust Shanahan has in the wide receivers. He may not have liked the matchups as Tampa Bay has long, lanky cornerbacks.

Ugly upfront

Well, kind of. If you were to judge the offensive line strictly on pass protection, they passed with flying colors. Laken Tomlinson was the lone offensive linemen to get beaten. That’s awesome. There were a couple of tough angles on some screen passes that caused the linemen to miss blocks, but overall they were about as good as it gets in the passing game.

The same cannot be said for the running game. Vita Vea had his way inside. He pushed Weston Richburg back with relative ease. He didn’t struggle against Mike Person, either. I would much rather have Jimmy with time to throw and not running for his life as opposed to the other way around. Turn the tables and look at the Bucs offense. They were able to run on the 49ers, but when it came time to throw the ball, he was scrambling. That’s a perfect example when talking about the value of passing and running in today’s game.

The perfect marriage

I would have had questions if the defense struggled against this offense, but, as you saw above, that wasn’t the case. Even at halftime, when the score was close, it never felt like Tampa Bay was going to win.

There isn’t as much nuance on defense. Tackles, stops, missed tackles. “Wins” are precisely what they sound like. It means you beat the person trying to block you. We’ve talked about Bosa, but how about Arik Armstead?

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Player Tackle Missed Win Stop TFL QB Hit Sack Penalty Target Completion INT PBU Shutdown In Position Blown 1st down G/U TD G/U FF
Player Tackle Missed Win Stop TFL QB Hit Sack Penalty Target Completion INT PBU Shutdown In Position Blown 1st down G/U TD G/U FF
Ford 1 3 1
DJ Jones 1 1
Buckner 2 3 2 1 1
Day 1
Armstead 3 1 5 3 0.5 1
Thomas
Bosa 1 1 8 0.5 0.5 1 1
Blair 0.5 1 1
Warner 8 2 3 2.5 9 8 1 1 7 2 1 1
Alexander 2.5 2 1 1 0 1 1 1
Greenlaw 3 1 1
Nzeocha 2 1
Sherman 3 1 2 5 3 1 1 1 10 3 2 1
Witherspoon 1 7 2 1 2 5 11 1 2
Williams 1 2 1 1 1 1 1
Moseley 1 1 1 1 4
Tartt 3 1 1 1 2 1 4 5 1 1
Moore 5.5 3 1 3 1 1 1 6 3 1

Let me explain some coverage numbers so I can vent about Fred Warner. I’m charting all passing plays where a player has a distinct responsibility, not just when the player is targeted. A “shut down” coverage means the defender is draped all over the wide receiver and he would have to make a spectacular catch. In position is exactly how it sounds, where you’re within arms reach and can make a play on the ball. Blown means you’re not within arms reach and cannot contest the throw.

Okay, about Warner. He’s really site decorum good. As a linebacker in this league, you’re put in some pretty tough situations in coverage. Whether that’s being tasked to chase a running back out of the backfield from the other side of the field, or the offense motions and all of a sudden you’re lined up against Mike Evans. Warner only having two blown coverages for how active he was is spectacular. He is evolving into a playmaker right before our eyes, as evidenced by the forced fumble. Warner still is taking away underneath routes with ease. He had a nice pass breakup, beat linemen three times, and finished with 2.5 stops.

Warner missed two tackles. Now is as good a time as ever to explain that not all missed tackles are equal. Tarvarius Moore missing a tackle that made Pat write an entire article about is one thing. Running from sideline-to-sideline, forcing the runner to cutback, missing the tackle, but slowing him down where he doesn’t gain any extra yards isn’t a bad play to me.

Jaquiski Tartt gets an A in my book for Sunday. He showed off his versatility wearing plenty of different hats, but also showed that he is sound in coverage. Witherspoon gets an A+. Only getting beaten in coverage once in 45 snaps is ridiculous. Witherspoon gave up two first downs, and on one he was all over. He looked confident, quick, and trusted what he saw. Scott went into depth about his performance.

If Week 1 is indicative of how things will go for the defense this season, expect a bend but don’t break approach, with timely plays by your best players. In 2019, that’s how it should be.