Cosell’s Watching: 49ers Offense vs. Cardinals Defense

Arizona Cardinals, From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game, San Francisco 49ers

Editor’s Note:  Greg Cosell is the Executive Producer of NFL Matchup.  To produce each week’s show, Greg watches the same all-22 game tape as the NFL’s coaches and players use in their preparation.  Check back to TCIPF throughout the week for notes from Greg’s film study of Week 14.  Here are his observations of the Arizona defense vs. the 49ers offense in last Sunday’s Cardinals’ win over the NFC West champions.     

  • Cards again matched Peterson on the outside in “cover zero man”, They are utilizing him as a shutdown man-to-man corner
  • Cards again very effective with inside stunts, Dockett a key part of it
  • Even though DC Horton came from Pittsburgh the Cards blitz more out of their base 3-4 than the Steelers
  • There were snaps in which Peterson was matched in the slot on Crabtree – Peterson gives the Cards defense great versatility and flexibility

  • Dockett is as quick as any 3-4 DE in the NFL,Outstanding explosion off the ball

    Alex Smith stays on the ground after being tackled by Darnell Dockett (AP)

  • Cards played a lot of man coverage out of their base 3-4, Peterson on Ginn and Marshall on Crabtree
  • Cards very aggressive with blitz pressure right from the start, Clearly game planned and it was effective
  • Cards a very good DL rotation that featured starters Campbell, Eason and Docket and rotation players Holliday and rookie Carter
  • Smith had Ginn wide open on a shot play on the 3rd possession (great double move v. Jefferson) but pressure by Holliday v. Iupati prevented Smith from driving through the throw – Would have been a TD
  • Cards defense looked quicker and faster than the 49ers offense, Cards front seven was the more dominant unit v. 49ers OL
  • Williams continued to be a factor as a 3rd down receiver for the 49ers, Aligned both in the slot and outside
  • Smith did not look very comfortable in the pocket, He played fast at times
  • Davis 32 yds on 2nd quarter FG drive was a coverage bust by the Cards off a “fire x” blitz, LB Schofield matched up to Walker man-to-man instead of playing zone
  • Timing just off on tight red zone fade to Ginn at the end of the 1st half, Smith just overthrew it – It was a very tough catch
  • Gore 37 yd TD was an inside trap out of 2 back, Gore only 5 yds from the line of scrimmage as an “I” back with Miller offset – Great block by Crabtree on S Johnson

    Frank Gore runs for a TD past Rashad Johnson (AP)

  • LT Boone struggled in pass protection, Looked a little slow footed with his lateral movement
  • Cards defense presents problems for an offense: A lot of different alignments and pressure concepts, and an excellent man-to-man corner in Peterson – What they lack is an individual pass rusher that demands specific protection schemes
  • 49ers 3rd + 1 and 4th + 1 with just over 2:00 remaining trailing by 2: 49ers shotgun spread on 3rd + 1, Cards 5 man rush with “man free”, Smith incomplete; 49ers shotgun spread on 4th + 1, Cards “2 man lurk” behind 4 man rush, Smith left the pocket too early and the play became random
  • Overall the 49ers pass game did not handle the Cards blitz schemes well – Pass game must get better if the 49ers want to be true contenders in the NFC

LATER TODAY: Cardinal offense against 49er defense. . .the other side of the ball from Arizona’s win over San Francisco:

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