Cosell’s Watching the Divisionals: Alex Smith Made the Difference

From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers

NFL Matchup’s Executive Producer shares notes from his study of Divisional Weekend coaching tape: 49ers offense vs. Saints defense. 

  • Walker was inactive, Peelle replaced him in the 49ers 2 TE sets
  • 49ers utilized NT Sopoaga and DL Smith in short yardage situations
  • Saints played both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, Wilson played OLB in the 3-4
  • Davis 49 yd TD came versus “man free”, Harper matched on Davis
  • 49ers WR block very well in the run game, Critical part of successful run game
  • Saints “cover zero blitz” on 5th play of the game, 2nd + 10: Ginn 11 yds on quick slant versus Porter
  • Saints “cover zero blitz” on 7th play (still 49ers 1st possession), 2nd + 10: Davis 5 yds versus Jenkins
  • Saints matched Jenkins on Davis in “cover zero”, Jenkins was a college corner at Ohio State
  • Crabtree 4 yd TD was great call by Harbaugh versus anticipated man coverage, Rub element out of 3 WR distribution
  • Saints matched Harper on Davis in “man free” coverage
  • Saints game planned to play a high percentage of man coverage, As the game progressed they mixed more snaps of zone
  • Saints again showed red zone tendency to rush 3 and drop 8
  • 49ers attacked the perimeter in the run game, A number of toss plays with both Gore and Hunter
  • Saints again featured 3-3-5 as part of nickel sub-package, Wilson was the 3rd LB with Vilma and Shanle – Casillas was active but did not play on defense
  • Saints played snaps of dime with S Adbul-Quddus the 6th DB, It was 3-2-6 with Vilma and Wilson the 2 LB – In that dime sub-package Jenkins predominantly played Davis man-to-man
  • 49ers had some problems in the 1st half with the Saints overload blitz concepts out of man coverage, Harper a featured blitzer
  • Williams was the 49ers #2 receiver opposite Crabtree, He played the large majority of snaps with Ginn only playing about 20 snaps
  • 49ers go with “heavy” personnel as their short yardage staple: 6 OL plus Sopoaga and J. Smith – 6 OL with Boone also featured in normal and distance situations
  • Gore 42 yds on 1st + 10 in the 4th quarter came versus “cover zero blitz” out of base 4-3, Jenkins bad missed tackle
  • Saints continued to play “cover zero blitz” in the 2nd half, 4th play on 1st + 10: Smith incomplete to Davis versus Jenkins
  • Jenkins sack to end 49ers first 2nd half possession came out of 3-2-6 “cover zero blitz”, Jenkins was unblocked off the edge; S Adbul-Quddus has Davis man-to-man
  • Saints 4 snaps of “cover zero blitz” on the 49ers first 9 plays (2 possessions) of the 2nd half
  • Saints high percentage man coverage, high percentage blitz, and many snaps of “cover zero blitz” – An aggressive and challenging approach that was predominantly successful for 3½ quarters
  • I don’t think I’ve seen a defense play more “cover zero blitz” than the Saints, It was very effective – Smith had only thrown for 177 yds until the 49ers got the ball with 4:02 left in the 4th quarter trailing by 1
  • Smith 28 yd TD was a great play call versus anticipated man coverage, Impressive athleticism by LT Staley pulling to lead Smith around the corner – Great crack back block by Williams on DE Smith
  • Davis 37 yds on first 4th quarter TD drive came versus “cover zero blitz” out of base 4-3, Davis beat Jenkins on a fade route; Outstanding throw by Smith – 1st time Davis was split outside the numbers, 49ers anticipated the coverage and wanted Davis on Jenkins with room and space
  • Davis 47 yds on winning TD drive came out of 3×1 set versus 3-3-5 “man free”, Davis inside slot on 3 receiver side matched on Jenkins – Big time throw by Smith
  • Davis 14 yd winning TD came against red zone “Tampa 2”, Smith outstanding anticipation and accuracy – Better throw than catch
  • Smith 3 big time throws in the final 4 minutes, That was the difference for the 49ers

Later today – more of Greg’s notes from the 49ers win over New Orleans.

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