Cosell’s Watching the Divisionals: Niners Pass Rush was Gold

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 defense vs. Saints offense.

  • Aldon Smith quick and violent hands as a pass rusher, Keeps his feet moving, Improved greatly as an outside rusher with ability to get low and bend the edge – Smith has deceptive strength, He’s much more powerful than he looks
  • 49ers continued to play man coverage out of their nickel sub-package, When they went “man free” and Graham was split outside the numbers SS Whitner matched up
  • Goldson jumped out immediately on film, He was instinctive and aggressive, Played downhill very effectively
  • Goldson interception came out of nickel, Rogers slot blitz as part of zone exchange 4 man pressure; “Cover 3” concept in which Goldson rotated to single high, Brees did not account for Goldson
  • J. Smith plays with great leverage and strength on the inside, He jacked LG Nicks a couple of times
  • 49ers were comfortable with LB Willis and Bowman man-to-man on Sproles and Graham
  • Thomas did not return after 1st series, Sproles played more snaps than game planned
  • A. Smith 1st quarter sack came out of nickel “man free lurk”, A great coverage versus Saints given how many balls Brees throws between the numbers in 3rd down situations
  • 49ers very multiple with their man coverage concepts out of nickel, There were snaps in which FS Goldson played Sproles man-to-man
  • Graham 14 yd TD came out of “22” personnel, Sproles motioned out of the backfield to WR position; That created matchup of Graham on Willis inside, Brees great throw high and away from Willis to take advantage of Graham’s height
  • My sense watching tape was the 49ers played more zone out of their base 3-4, more man out of their nickel sub-package
  • 49ers continued to utilize stunts from their nickel DL, A. Smith excellent looping inside behind J. Smith – It’s a staple stunt for the 49ers
  • There were snaps in which the Saints had 6 OL personnel with 3 WR, 49ers matched up both with base and nickel depending on down and distance and field position
  • Colston 25 yd TD came versus “man free lurk”, Colston fade route beat Culliver; Saints nudge concept with Graham and Sproles in empty set
  • 49ers more “man free” than “2 man”, Wanted lurk defender in the middle of the field to take away Brees strong tendency between-the-numbers throws
  • 49ers a very disruptive 4 man pass rush, They got bodies around Brees
  • 49ers put the burden on outside corners Brown and Culliver in their nickel sub-package, A lot of single high man coverage concepts – Brown and Culliver overall played better than the Saints WR
  • Brown 2nd quarter interception came in man coverage versus Henderson with no safety help
  • A. Smith played more than 50 snaps in this game, 49ers a lot of sub-package to match up to the Saints personnel and high percentage pass game
  • Saints continued to utilize nudge concept out of empty to help OT Bushrod and Strief
  • 49ers stunt as well as any team in the NFL, and they do it from a variety of fronts and alignments
  • Sproles 44 yd TD came against “man free” with Goldson on Sproles offset in the backfield, Goldson tried to disguise the coverage and he was late to react to Sproles
  • 49ers secondary was better than the Saints WR in this game; Saints did not take advantage of one-on-one matchups, Their receivers did not get open consistently
  • 49ers blitzed selectively, Rogers off the slot was utilized a number of times
  • Brees great seam throw to Colston early in the 4th quarter, A tough catch and Colston did not hold on – Would have been a TD
  • J. Smith aligned in a 2 point stance in the middle of the defense is a featured part of the 49ers nickel sub-package
  • Saints pass game had no rhythm despite Brees big numbers, They made a number of outstanding individual plays but they did not have that relentless feel to them that they normally have
  • Graham 66 yd TD came against “2 man” with Willis on Graham, Unbelievable throw by Brees with quick pressure in his face and great athleticism by Graham
  • Saints OT Bushrod and Strief struggled in individual matchups against A. Smith, Smith very strong hands and plays with great leverage
  • 49ers pass rush was a factor all game, Brees was not as comfortable as he normally is
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