97 G-rub

After the game against the Seahawks, I wrote in my grades that Frank Gore’s 51-yard run was a weak-side lead, but it had a twist.

The 49ers had two tight ends and two running backs on the field. Vance McDonald lined up next to Vernon Davis on the right side of the 49ers’ formation, and then McDonald motioned to the left. When McDonald has motioned in this way from this personnel grouping this season, the 49ers have run a weak-side lead play where the back-side guard pulls and leads Gore through the hole between McDonald and the play-side offensive tackle. But that’s not what happened on Gore’s 51-yard run, a play the 49ers never have run before. They call it “97 G-rub.”

Staley blocked down on Red Bryant, the defensive end. Adam Snyder, the left guard, trapped and kicked out the rushing linebacker on the offense’s left side, Bruce Irvin, creating a super highway between Snyder and Staley.

This play developed much quicker than the typical weak-side lead the 49ers run where the back-side guard has to run all the way to the other side of the formation and turn the corner to lead the tailback through the hole. Snyder only had to take a couple of steps to clear Irvin out of the way and then, almost instantly, McDonald, Bruce Miller and Alex Boone were at the “second level” blocking linebackers and the strong safety.

This was a great play design by the 49ers, a clever twist on the weak-side lead look they’ve showed all season.

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  1. Nice description of the play Grant.

    As Roman said on Thursday, “And with Seattle, the beauty of what they do is it’s pretty simple and it’s pretty consistent. So, as far as drawing up new plays, maybe a few. Maybe a few.”

  2. It almost looked like the c-hawks had absolutely no idea what was coming at them on this play.
    By the Gore went through the initial wave he only had to cut away from Thomas’ tackle attempt and he was gone.

    This play looked similar to the one they used (although perhaps a different twist there as well) in the SB in which Gore busted a long run on the 49ers last drive but Gore ran the ball to the opposite side of the field before being tackled at the 5 yrd line of the Ravens.

  3. Nice description of the blocking scheme Grant. That’s good stuff. The other part of the success of this play was Gore setting up Earl Thomas for the cutback. Thomas was unblocked but Gore used his aggressiveness against him. After the game Gore said, “When I saw the hole, I kind of knew (safety Earl Thomas) – he’s so fast to the ball, I kind of knew he was going to overrun it. So I kind of set him outside and then broke him back in because he’s so aggressive.” Blocking was great and Gore was great on that play. Total team effort on that one.

    1. Yes, a great team effort. Gore set up Thomas perfectly. I wonder if Hunter could have done that, because if he could have, he would have scored.

      1. True. I was actually surprised Gore got as far as he did on that play. I’m a huge Gore fan but he has lost alot of speed over the years. If you watch the replays it looks like the o-lineman are celebrating thinking Gore will score.

      2. The most important part of that play to excecute is the begining not the end. The most difficult part of that play to execute is the begining not the end my point being its meaningless whether Hunter would have scored or not, the 9ers eventually scored and won the game and there is a good chance Hunter could’nt make the read or cut that Gore made and the 9ers would have very likely lost that game. Another important point is Gore would have been caught from behind on that run in his rookie year, its not about loss of speed thats just Frank. You and I were wrong again Grant, Frank has’nt lost a step it was his ankle.

      3. Gore has never had great breakaway speed as Old Coach said. He’s smart enough to know he wasn’t going to get anymore than he did and went down in bounds to keep the clock moving. One of the smartest football players I’ve ever seen.

      4. I wouldn’t say Gore has ever been fast but he’s definitely lost some speed. Superman would lose speed after 9 NFL seasons. I do think Gore slowed and fell down in bounds on purpose. Thats the football IQ of Frank Gore. He fell down in bounds because he was going to get caught – not because he didn’t want to score a TD.

      5. Grant,

        You’re right Frank Gore of ’09 would’ve scored on that play, but there’s a big gap between that and being finished.

        The end is coming for Gore, it just isn’t here, just yet.

      6. In hindsight Grant, it’s better that he didn’t score in that it allowed us to use up the majority of the clock and kick the FG and not give the Birds a chance to come back…which was the concern. Similiar to the SB last year when they were at the 5. Aikman questioned during the telecast that he though Carrol may allow us to score the TD there.

      7. MD,

        I mentioned it right away in the 4th Quarter game thread. That’s what experience brings you. I thought they were going to let him score on the final few plays so they could get the ball back. Seattle thinks they are better than that. They probably didn’t want the rushing TD to affect their stats! Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

      8. Gore went down in bounds to run the clock which was brilliant. A score would have only given Seattle a better chance to come back. Run the clock, kick the chip shot, game over.

      9. Hopefully Hunter is learning some things. I agree he’s got greater acceleration.
        LATTIMORE will be starting to acclimate to the team next year!

    2. Gore getting caught from behind on breakaway plays isn’t exactly new. He’s always been more of a short term burst guy then someone who is gonna outrun you down the field.

  4. Mbabco thats exactly what i was thinking at the game. i was so happy we did’nt give Wilson a chance to win the game with ample time on the clock.

    1. Yep. This is something that Harbaugh has taught going back to Stanford. I remember him discussing it during an interview way back then with the morning guys on KNBR. It’s just smart football.

      1. Jack,

        Well clock management is something Kap has to learn from his head coach. The superstar QB’s in this game already know what the coach knows. Brady has that clock down to a science.

    1. Old Coach,

      I thought it was pretty obvious that’s what Gore was doing, too.

      He was looking over his shoulder to see when he should go down, though. It looked like he wanted to get as many yards as possible before getting down.

      Having said that, barring a missed tackle, I don’t think he was going to score if he didn’t go down.

  5. Grant i asked you a question on friday to settle a bet. I was’nt around much this weekend so i’m not aware of whether or not you answered the question or not, so here goes again. Approx how many of the reader reponses do you read on the days you are working? I know it would be a guestamation but there is a whole 5 dollars riding on this. Thanks OC

  6. This was a huge play, but NOT the play that sealed the game. The 3rd and 7 run by ck was HUGE and that’s the play that sealed the game.
    Reading some of the comments on the grade post has me wondering if some on here wanted style points in a blowout.
    I said it all week that ck needed a “smith type” game. Because Seattle defense was so good. He had exactly that, plus a boost with his legs. His accuracy wasn’t the best, but his decision making (except the int) was pretty good vs the team that loves making him turn the ball over. It was an ugly win. And the 49ers and ck did what they have to do to beat the seahaks.

    1 kept their defense off the field more
    2 didn’t turn the ball over on our side of the field
    3 ran the ball
    4 was more physical than the Hawks.

    Week 2 if we had done these simple things that game isn’t what the score indicates.

    1. I agree about many posters seeming more interested in style points than grinding out the win. Particularly with regards to that last drive. However, I will say this game could have been an easier win if they had found a way to punch it into the end zone rather than stalling and settling for FGs early in the game. Convert one or two of those and they would have been out to a handy lead early on. Something to work on.

    2. MD sorry I missed you brother. Stopped by and everyone had packed up to enter the stadium. Were you near the raised truck with the humongous Niners flag sticking out of the truck bed?

      1. About 6 spaces down. Had about 20 people so we wanted to get in before the lines got crazy. Got there at around 8am so it was a good 4 hours of crazy ness. Lol

  7. Grant: Did anyone in the post game Q/AS ask Carroll if he considered letting Gore score on the first play after Kap’s run for the first down. The field goal from that spot was as close to a sure thing as there is in the NFL and with no timeouts Seattle would have just 20-25 seconds (down 2) if the Niners ran three times and kicked. If Carroll had told his D to let Gore score on the first down they would have had almost two minutes to try and win with a TD (or tie in case the Niners got the two pointer).

    It seems to me Seattle had better odds of getting a TD in 95 seconds than a Field Goal in 22 Seconds.

    1. Rick,
      That’s exactly what I was thinking during the game. Why doesn’t Seattle let the 49ers score a TD and get the ball back with plenty of time on the clock?

      I remember after JH was hired as the 49ers HC, during a radio interview, he was asked of that same scenario. I believe it was Tom Tolbert who asked that question. Jim Harbaugh’s answer? Let the other team score and get the ball back with enough time to have a fighting chance of winning the game.

    2. Rick:

      Gore had already demonstrated earlier in the drive that he understands the value of keeping the clock running. In your scenario, I suspect he would have fallen down at the 1 instead of going into the end zone.

    3. “It seems to me Seattle had better odds of getting a TD in 95 seconds than a Field Goal in 22 Seconds.”

      The only way this works is if the Niners cooperate. For example, Gore could take the ball, run to the one yard line and fall down on purpose, much like he did on his long run, thus running out the clock.

      1. Know the two factors that made this win so much sweeter? The stupid air banner bought by over confident Seadderal fans, and the pregame tape of a roided out Sherman calling it a glorified practice scrimmage.

      2. Chewie:

        The roid rage that got my attention was KJ Wright’s out of control fit when he found out he had a broken foot. He threw his helmet, and it ended up hitting an onlooker in the face.

        “Hulk mad!!! Hulk smash!!”

        That reputation Pete Carroll has for encouraging his players to take PEDs is totally undeserved.

  8. I know CK didn’t look great in this game (neither did Drew Brees last week) but I saw something that seems like an improvement. His presence in the pocket was a little better. He stepped up well, excaped when he had too and when he did escape he didn’t run right into a sack. One of the sacks wasn’t his fault and the other sack came on long developing routes. This is a BIG improvement against a great defense in Seattle.

  9. Finally a story focusing on the brighter side of 49er football. Refreshing and well described. Concerning the play, one has to wonder how many pockets does Roman have, and does he possess another in each one?

  10. I’m taking full credit for being the only one to pick the Dolphins win yesterday. Just proof that it’s better to be lucky then good.

  11. Its funny alot of the readers here say Romans biggest problem is he is to vanilla, he is not innovative. Every week G. Cosell says he is a very inovatine OC its that his inovation comes in the running game. A play like this proves that even a blowhard like Cosell can be right now and then

    1. Most of us here aren’t experts, but that play looked like a fairly standard play that Seattle overran, Gore made a beautiful read and cut, and off to the races. After the fact Roman can brag on how they were saving the play, but if it had gained two or five yards we wouldn’t be hearing about how brilliant it was. It’s not that unusual when teams stack the box that a running back breaks a normal running play for a big gain.

    2. Coach,

      The dislike of Roman is all about the explosion of fantasy football. Look at all the complaining about how they handled the situation after Gore’s run yesterday. That was smart football, but many want to say they are too conservative and lack a killer instinct, and both are a bunch of baloney.

      They had called passes on 65% of the plays prior to the Gore run, including 17 of 24 first down plays, and only by running the ball on the last 9 plays did the playcalling get the look of being balanced or conservative.

      1. And when the 49ers have tried to put the ball in Kaep’s hands early rather than sticking with the run it has all gone pear shaped.

      2. Some of it might be fantasy football but most of the frustration is seeing so many run plays that are stuffed for a yard or two, or an incompletion, and then 3 and out. Touchdowns seem to come at a premium for this team against the good teams. Offensively the 49ers are lacking if the goal is to watch them weekly until the Superbowl. Fair or unfair it is usually the offensive coordinator and quarterback that take the hit for lack of offensive production. I agree with your specifics regarding the “smart football” play calling. Just disagree with your sweeping observation about fantasy football. Football fans fans would have complained about this team lack of offensive production in any decade.

    3. I do think Roman and Harbaugh are too conservative at times, but it’s hard to argue with their success. To suggest they should have been throwing the ball on the final drive to try and score a TD is crazy though. They played it the way you have to in that situation. That wasn’t conservative; it was smart.

      1. Rocket the key to what you said there is “Roman and Harbaugh” When it comes to offense they are one and the same yet many here who call for Romans job would’nt be caught dead calling for Harbaughs job. They are one in the same Harbaugh ir Roman and Roman is Harbaugh. I’ve begun calling them Rombaugh.

      2. Rombaugh…I like it. It’s always easier to blame the subordinate Coach. People are complaining about Harbaugh without using his name. It’s his offense and philosophy as much as it is Roman’s.

  12. Brilliant play by Frank to stay in bounds. He is an all-time 49er. He ran hard all day against a very tough D-Line and outplayed Beast Mode. That was definitely a key to the 49ers victory. Great that the Niners kept to the run. They will need the same kind of patience in the running game if these two teams face off in the playoffs.

    I couldn’t believe Buck and Aikman completely missed Gore’s decision to stay inbounds. Well, yeah, I can. If Adrian Peterson had that same run and stayed in bounds, the two of them would have been singing his praises till the end of the game. Buck especially stinks.

    1. I’m not sure that was Frank’s intention. May have been, he’s capable of making the smart play. But looked to me like his knee buckled. When he fell he slid out of bounds, and I’m not sure anybody touched him before he went over the line, but maybe they did. May have gotten lucky that the official kept the clock running.

      1. When a player gives himself up, as Frank did, he is down at the point where he starts to go down. That’s why they didn’t stop the clock as he continued to slide out of bounds.

      2. No way…he gave him self up to stay in bounds. Smart play. Didn’t Kap have a similar situation earlier this season and just ran out of bounds leaving time on the clock? Which game was that?

  13. My initial reaction was that he went down on purpose. I think he gave himself up when he fell to the ground inbounds and that’s why the refs kept the clock running. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit, but I thought he did it on purpose. Maybe he was also concerned about getting the ball knocked out from behind. Overall, great call by Roman, great blocking, and great play by Gore.

    1. I think it was purposeful; he’s that heady. His field savvy reminds me of Ed Reed’s. Frank is to the offense what a veteran catcher is to baseball on D.

    2. It was 100% intentional. When he realized he wasn’t going any further and approaching the boundary he threw himself to the ground to keep the clock churning. Why else would he have done that?

    1. On the Seahawks blog they sure didn’t like that the sideline reporter and Troy Aikman brought up all the holding that the Seahawks DB’s were doing. They are all anti FOX Sports now lol.

      If it gets called early then the Seahawks adjust. If not, they keep pushing it to see how far the refs will let them go.

      Lets all hope the Giants take this as a pride game and play em tough. This week I am a NY Giants fan…..

      1. the sea cheats chicken fans join the club for not liking the fox tools. I personally can not tolerate those two and always mute the sound to not hear them speak.

  14. Congratulations Frank. Nicely done.
    So one play, in the fourth quarter,
    turns out to be the key to the win.
    Sounds a lot like luck to me.

    Compare this win with the teams which can
    (a) wrap up a win early, say by halftime
    (b) win late using one or more long, sustained drives.
    Drives which involve more than three first downs.
    Drives which showcase a series of 3 or 4 such big gains.
    One big running play….?
    One touchdown…? and yes…
    One win…
    against a division rival which has now clinched
    their playoff spot?
    Tell me again… where is the “feel-good” here?

    Antwane Boldin sez: we are hitting our stride. Wow…

    1. Hey Alex Succop, you stated before the game (addressing Harbaugh):

      10. Allow Coach Carroll to be the one to turn and go,
      on his way to the winning locker room.
      11. Go spend 15 minutes alone in a small office…
      trying to digest the meaning of the game which you just lost.

      How does it feel Mr. Succop?

  15. Javk:
    I am not a fantasy football player and I think the offense is too conservative. I don’t blame Roman, this is Harbaugh’s offense; power running game.
    My concerns are as follows:
    1. We lost a couple of games we could easily have won if the offense scored a few more points per game.
    2. In the playoffs we need to score more points.
    3. It appears that Kap is comfortable throwing the ball 20-40 yards down the field; more so than throwing outs to his backs, so we should try this plays a few times a game. I cannot remember that last seam pass thrown.
    4. Defenses are still crowding the line and some deeper passes are needed to loosen them up.
    I think the offense can score another 4-11 points a game with a bit more aggressive play calling and some variety in plays called.
    Sustained drives will help the defense.

    1. 49er42,

      “We lost a couple of games we could easily have won if the offense scored a few more points per game.”

      Is that on the players making plays or the coaches?

      “In the playoffs we need to score more points.”

      Since Harbaugh/Roman took over they have averaged 31.4 points per game in the post season. This after having averaged 24.3 points per game during the regular season in 2011 and 2012.

      So far through 2013 the 49ers have averaged, wait for it, 24.3 points per game.

      “It appears that Kap is comfortable throwing the ball 20-40 yards down the field; more so than throwing outs to his backs, so we should try this plays a few times a game. I cannot remember that last seam pass thrown.”

      They do. Kaepernick is tied for the 4th highest percentage of throws of greater than 20 yards in the league.

      “Defenses are still crowding the line and some deeper passes are needed to loosen them up.”

      Two things. First see the above stat. They are doing this already, and second they have had Kaepernick drop back 65% of the time over the last 2 weeks until the game situations dictated that running the ball was the prudent course of action.

      1. Yeah, but when I play on Madden, I have the 49ers passing on 90% of all plays and throwing deep half the time. And we score a lot more than 31.4 points/game. Roman is too conservative; they should hire me as offensive coordinator.

      2. The instant gratification group isn’t interested in your analysis which takes into account the the game “situation” as it changes. Grant, for his own reasons, only seems to be interested in the aggregate data.

        I wonder how Grant would have graded “The Catch” game, where Montana, at a similar point in his career, threw three bad balls that were intercepted. While Montana wasn’t throwing the ball away when Clark made “The Catch”, the play had never worked in practice. Due to the fickle nature of the fans, and the press, it’s never been recognized that the game was won by a defensive horse collar, and a sack.

    1. Man, I wish I have the money to fly a banner at their stadium every time the 49ers play at Seattle and it will read 5 – 0 and counting. And I will not stop until they have more superbowl wins than us which probably will never happen :)

      1. We could always take up a collection to pay for it like the schmucks from Seattle did…bu if we did that we’d be accused of being bad sports…lol…and yeah…they’ll never catch up to our SB wins, unless they win them on Madden

      2. I am in to pitch for a fund to do so. But we have to do something much larger maybe a banner and fire works all in Red and Gold!

      3. that’s a good idea Chicago49ers. Man, I try to be a good sport all the time but these Seahawks fans need to be put in their right placed. All teams have bad fans but theirs are the most annoying of them all.

  16. I think this run represents G-Ro’s strength. He clearly has an uncanny mind for running the ball. If he could develop a similar mind for passing the ball, he could be the top OC in the league. I’m hoping that he’s been being devious all year in that he’s holding cards like “97 G-rub” in his back pocket to win down the stretch in the playoffs.

  17. Jack
    Thanks for the information.
    Averages are important, but part of the problem is the numbers get inflated against weaker opponents. Against stonger teams it appears the Niners get more conservative. I accept I maybe incorrect, but the offense out put against Carolina, New Orleans and even Seattle is concerning.

    1. I called Jack Hammer and Trent Balke about trading for Josh Gordon but they didn’t answer! Lol. Now he’s blowing up and jack hammer is sticking to his assertion that we didn’t need him. That we didn’t know what Cleveland wanted. They couldn’t have wanted more than a #1. He looks like a #1 to me. I’m sure he would never trade pot for a chance to star for and win with the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS!

      1. I love that Josh Gordon plays with confidence and flare. He said he was going to make plays against Aqib Talib this week, days before the game. Most yards ever by a wide receiver in a 4 game stretch in NFL history. You’re right Jack, we don’t need a guy like that! Hahaha!

      2. fact is no one here even knows if browns had any interest in trading Gordon,,just because it circulates on the net and in the press doest mean it is true

    2. years ago I argued niners should take brett farve over ted washington…he had almost singlehandily beat Alabama,,,
      then again I also argued they should take giovanni carmazzi

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