Although the 49ers offensive play calling needs to improve next season, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman called their fair share of good plays last season. Here were their top-five.
- Frank Gore’s 46-yard run at Detroit in Week 6 thanks to the “wham” block from Delanie Walker on Ndamukong Suh. The Niners used Suh’s aggressiveness against him, allowing him to run free into the backfield on a run play before Delanie Walker blindsided him and knocked him on his back. This created a huge hole for Gore, and he ran all the way to the Lions one-yard line. When Gore was healthy last season and Roman was calling creative run plays like this one, the Niners running game was tough to stop.
- Alex Smith’s play-action pass to Joe Staley vs. the Browns Week 8. Smith faked a stretch run to Kendall Hunter on the strong side of the formation, then spun around and hit a wide open Joe Staley, who had reported as an eligible receiver before the play, for 17 yards and a first down. This could be a good play-call for third and short or goal-line plays next season.
- Alex Smith’s 12-yard pass to a wide open Delanie Walker (dropped) in Detroit’s end zone in the third quarter on third and nine. Vernon Davis lined up on the left side of the line and ran a shallow crossing route to the right. He drew the attention of the Lions middle linebacker, strong-side linebacker and strong safety. Smith stared at Davis and then he threw it to a wide open Walker in the end zone. Walker had lined up next to Davis but motioned to the right and ran an out route at the goal line and the Lions defense forgot all about him. Unfortunately for the Niners, Walker dropped the pass. But he was a major factor in their passing attack for the next few games, so much so that the New York Giants actually double-teamed him in the fourth quarter of Week 10, leaving Vernon Davis wide open for a touchdown. After that, Walker didn’t catch another pass all season long. The Niners should keep him involved in their offense next season because defenses tend to forget about him.
- QB9, a.k.a. Alex Smith’s 28-yard TD run vs. New Orleans in the playoffs. The Niners originally called this play Week 8 vs. the Browns. It went for nine yards before Smith got pushed out of bounds at the Browns’ two-yard line because Joe Staley, the lead blocker, didn’t make his block. Against the Saints he did, and Smith took it all the way. This is an effective red zone and third down play for Alex Smith and the Niners offense, because defenses seem to forget Alex Smith can run.
- Vernon Post, a.k.a Vernon Davis’ 14-yard TD to beat the Saints in the playoffs. Harbaugh and Roman curiously hadn’t called many plays for Vernon Davis in the red zone during the regular season, but they called his number on the most important play of their season. Davis lined up in the left slot and ran a simple post over the middle of the field. Smith threw a dart before Davis turned his head. The Saints had no chance to stop it. The more pass plays the Niners can create for Vernon Davis in the end zone, the better, and this was a great start.