How the Vikings used Percy Harvin against the 49ers

The 49ers will face Percy Harvin at least two times next season. Can they match up with him?

They couldn’t last season when he was on the Vikings. Harvin caught nine passes for 89 yards and he ran once for nine yards. A couple of his catches were screens and a couple were swing passes out of the backfield.

I want to show you three plays in which Harvin beat the 49ers’ cornerbacks on routes past the line of scrimmage.

4:43 1st quarter, second and ten at the Minnesota 20 yard line

The Vikings line up in 11 personnel – one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers. Harvin is the slot receiver on the left side, the weak side of the formation. He’s lined up against Carlos Rogers.

Ponder is under center and before he calls hike, Donte Whitner runs toward the line of scrimmage to be the eighth man in the box, and Dashon Goldson slides to the center of the field to play single-high coverage. Ponder audibles, turning and yelling and gesturing to Harvin.

Ponder calls hike. Harvin takes three steps to the inside and then cuts back to the outside, juking Rogers. Ponder drops five step, hitches and floats a pass over Harvin’s shoulder. Gain of 24. Easy.

Once Rogers got beat, which was right away, he wasn’t fast enough to catch up to Harvin. Goldson was 15 yards away when Harvin caught the ball.

8:10 4th quarter, first and ten at the Minnesota 25 yard line

The Vikes line up in 12 personnel – Adrian Peterson alone in the backfield, two tight ends on the offense’s left side and two wide receivers on their right side. Harvin is one of the receivers. He’s in the slot.

Tarell Brown runs across the field to match up with Harvin. The ball is snapped. Ponder play fakes to Adrian Peterson, who’s running around the left end behind the tight ends. Ponder boots back the right.

Meanwhile, Harvin is wide open. He had run to the inside, stopped on a dime and sprinted back outside, faking out Brown. Ponder throws to the wide open receiver and misses low and away. Incomplete.

3:49 4th quarter, third and five at the San Francisco’s 49 yard line

The Vikes line up in 11 personnel, but this time Harvin is not in the slot. He’s the weakside X receiver. The tight end, slot and flanker all are on the offense’s right side.

Again, he faces Brown. This time Brown shows press coverage. Ponder audibles, motioning to Harvin. Then he calls hike.

Brown does not press. He bails, expecting Harvin to run deep. But Harvin runs a quick slant to the inside and gains fourteen.

What do you think, can the 49ers match up with Harvin or can’t they?

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