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The 49ers offense is powerfully simple

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

I usually try to think of some witty introduction to these tape pieces, but honestly, after watching the 49ers offense against the Giants from last Sunday night I’ve got nothing. I’m not saying the 49ers offense was bad in that game, they actually played well and had a chance to win the game but their defense could not hold a late 4th quarter lead (sound familiar?).

No, what I’m saying is there was nothing that jumped out at me about their offense. They don’t try to trick you; they line up and play. But for my money, simple and consistent execution can often be more effective than deception. So despite their 1-4 record, respect the 49ers. They will be right in front of you all game long.

It Starts with Carlos Hyde

I was very impressed watching Carlos Hyde against the Giants. He’s powerful but also possess good speed and agility. He runs both power (e.g. plays with pulling guards and/or a fullback lead) and zone run concepts well, but I’d say power concepts suit him better at this early point in his career. Here are 2 plays that illustrate how adept he is in either scheme:

This is a 2nd & 10 play from the Giant’s 43 yard line. The 49ers line up with 21 personnel (1 RB, 1 FB, 1 TE and 2 WRs). This appears to be an outside zone run concept to the offensive right side of the formation. The 49ers use FB #49 to block the backside DE (left side of the screen). As soon as Hyde gets the ball he sees the cut back, plants his foot in the ground and rumbles for 22 yards.

On the next play, the 49ers run a power concept to the weak side of the formation. They are again in 21 personnel, with a TE on the right side of the formation and the FB in the backfield offset to the right. At the snap, the RG #65 pulls to the left and blocks the DE. The FB #49 also crosses the formation (from right to left) to block the OLB. Hyde reads these blocks and runs through the crease created by the RG and FB for 9 yards.

Designed deep shots to Torrey Smith

Ravens’ fans are obviously very familiar with Torrey Smith’s game. In the NFL, speed is a weapon and I’m not sure there are many WRs who are faster than Smith. The 49ers will take designed deep shots throughout the game to try and take advantage of his speed.

2nd Q, 3:17, 1st & 10, ball on 49ers 44 yard line

Although the pass was incomplete, I like this play for several reasons. First, the 49ers used personnel, formation and down and distance to dictate the matchup they wanted. They come out in 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE and 3 WRs). They showed this personnel group earlier in the game on 1st and 10 and the Giants countered with their nickel personnel and played man coverage with a single high safety. The Giants do the same thing on this play. This potentially creates 1-on-1 coverage for Smith who is lined up outside at the top of the screen.

The 49ers do two things to prevent the deep safety from rotating over to help on Smith’s deep route. First they use backfield action with WR #11 and RB Hyde. Next they run a mesh concept with the TE and WR Boldin running crossing routes in front of the safety.

Smith gets a step on the DB but the pass is just out of his reach. The Ravens will need to stay disciplined with their coverage keys and expect the 49ers to take these kinds of designed deep shots to Smith.

Anquan Boldin in the RedZone

When the 49ers are in the red zone and look to pass, they look for Anquan Boldin. On this TD pass, they come out with a run look. They are in 21 personnel with both receivers on the offensive right side, with Boldin in the slot. But this isn’t a run; it’s actually a rub/pick passing concept that every team in the league uses some variation of.

Boldin runs a short out route while Smith (the outside receiver) runs up-field. The DB #20 plays over the top and has to run around Smith’s route. Boldin runs his out route under Smith and is open for an easy 2-yard touchdown.

I’m actually surprised Smith wasn’t called for offensive pass interference on this play. I’m sure he would argue he was running a pass route, but watch and judge for yourself. He doesn’t extend his hands, but it looks more like a block than a route to me.

Parting Shots

The 49ers showed a variety of WR screens against the Giants. I haven’t watched the other 49er games so this could have been game plan specific. But if this is a regular part of their offense, the Ravens will have to take good angles and wrap up when tackling (forget making the kill shot, just get the guy on the ground).

WR screen to Bruce Ellington:

WR screen to Torrey Smith:

The C #66 for the 49ers did not have a good game against the Giants. If he plays this Sunday and they are lined up across from him, I would expect Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan and Carl Davis all to be able to exploit that match up.

Watch the spin move #49 for the Giants puts on the C:

The DT makes one move and goes right around the C:

I think this game pits strength versus strength. The 49ers want to run the ball and the Ravens are better at stopping the run than the pass. That said, the 49ers do have some weapons at WR and of course Kaepernick is always potentially dangerous. I would expect the Ravens to use a heavy dose of zone coverage because of Kaepernick’s ability to run.

The Ravens shouldn’t see anything fancy from the 49ers offense. They key to containing them in my opinion is focusing on your defensive keys and making sure tackles.

Simple, right?