A pair of dominant defensive performances by the 49ers has masked what have been two lackluster performances from the offense in the playoffs. Against the Cowboys, the Niners came out hot, set the tone, and scored on the opening drive.
The Niners never found their groove from there and into the Packers game last Saturday. The talent on the team is too much to keep tied down, so there will inevitably be splash plays.
The tenets of a Kyle Shanahan offense are running the ball, generating explosive plays, winning on first downs so you can convert on third down to play keep away from the opposing offense. Here are the 49ers offensive numbers through two playoff games:
42% Success Rate
26% First-down rate
-0.14 EPA per rush
-0.19 EPA per pass
10-for-25 on 3rd/4th down
-7.3 CPOE (completion percentage over expectation)
For clarity, CPOE does not factor in drops. The 49ers' offense finished 18th in drops during the regular season. Since Week 11, Jimmy Garoppolo finished with a 5.3 CPOE, good enough for third in the league.
First downs were hard to come by against Green Bay. The 49ers finished fifth in passing EPA per play and six in rushing EPA per play since Week 11. The numbers listed above would’ve been good for 27th in rushing EPA and 31st in passing EPA per play.
For context, a 42% success rate would rank one spot ahead of the 23rd ranked Jaguars. So, yeah, they’ve struggled offensively during the past two weeks. Turnovers, drops, and penalties have plagued this team all season, and that hasn’t changed in the playoffs.
Trent Williams was flagged for a holding penalty as the Niners were headed into score last week. Elijah Mitchell gets called for a facemask as he’s tussling with the defender and fighting for extra yards. Both drives would have led to touchdowns.
It’s OK to give the Packers credit, though. For the first time in a long time, the offensive line was being pushed around. Green Bay put pressure on the 49ers to catch or hang onto the ball, and San Francisco couldn’t.
During today’s show, Akash and I explain why the Niners' offense has struggled and why they’ll turn it around against the Rams.
Los Angeles loves to show one look pre-snap and stem to a completely different look once the ball is snapped. The 49ers motion before the ball is snapped more than any other team in the league. One of the biggest benefits to that, other than getting a numbers advantage in a gap, is you limit what the defense can do after the ball is snapped since they have to account for all of the pre-snap movement.
Also, the matchup favors the 49ers. While Kyle Shanahan said the Rams have one of the best pass-rushing units in the league, Los Angeles proved they are weak at linebacker and in the slot. Jauan Jennings had a career day last time around, while Brandon Aiyuk had a field day over the middle of the field.
More on the offense turning it around and why the 49ers will advance to the Super Bowl below:
Other topics include:
Why the 49ers will have success against the Rams (9:29)
Where do the 49ers have the advantage against LA? (10:25)
How much Deebo are we going to see in this game? (14:16)
How Aaron Rodgers missed a wide-open receiver in a huge spot (23:30)
What DeMeco Ryans will do on defense against the Rams (31:56)
If DeMeco leaves, who are the candidates to replace Ryans if he becomes a head coach (43:24)
NFC Championship Game predictions (50:11)