Why don’t the 49ers move Kaepernick’s launch point more often? Harbaugh: “Don’t know that 10 percent is not enough.”

SANTA CLARA — I just had a brief exchange with Jim Harbaugh at his Wednesday press conference. Here is a transcript:

GC: Colin Kaepernick has incredible speed, arm strength and body control to the throw the ball on the run, and he has displayed that admirably here and at the University of Nevada. But this season, your offense has moved his launch point by design on just 10 percent of his passes. Why is that?

HARBAUGH: Don’t know that 10 percent is not enough.

GC: Why not 20 or 30 percent?

HARBAUGH: It’s part of the plan. It’s been part of the plan. And here’s the thing. You’re only as good as your last quarters of football and I understand that. It’s very convenient, very easy to say, “Why not run? Why not pass? Why not move the pocket? Why not throw a screen? Why didn’t you go for it on fourth-and-1?” Those are convenient things to do. When you don’t get the result that you wanted, anybody would rather see how it would have played out in that situation – what would it have been like if he had gone for it? You know how it was when you didn’t get it and how that affected the game, etc. Hindsight is very convenient.

GC: I’m talking about a yearlong trend, not your last game.

HARBAUGH: Yeah, I understand. I’m just making the point I’m making, I guess.

,
    1. I know the 49ers have moved Kaepernick’s launching point by design just 28 times this season and Kaepernick has been effective on those plays. I’ll tally up those stats this afternoon.

      1. Grant,

        I wonder if defenses have caught up with moving the pocket as a crutch for Kaepernick? I think they’re already rolling their coverage towards the strongside of the formation to defend the Flanker (Boldin) and the Tight End who are obviously Kaep’s favorite (almost exclusive) targets. So by moving the pocket would they be shrinking the field down even more so for defenders already prepared to defend on that side? Would the Niners move the pocket to the weakside? Would Kaepnernick be able to handle that?

      2. and if they moved the pocket to the weakside, is the 2nd WR/Split End and 2nd TE/slot receiver/fullback good enough to have the plays shift their focus to them?

  1. Does not throwing on the run make it easier on a defense to cover? Basically the field is cut in half right. Why not focus on developing him to play and throw within the pocket.

    1. That’s exactly what they’re doing. Doesn’t look like they’ll budge until he gets it. If he does before the playoffs they will be very dangerous.

      1. Do you think he is afraid to get hit? That’s something that people that go to games can see more clearly. What would you say Ninermd?

      2. Still hurt about that fact huh fdm? Lol always good to open up old wounds. Especially on yourself. Maybe you should try going to a game sometime. I know this. Smith isn’t around anymore and MC’s numbers went up when he was gone. But hey. You TV watchers can see the whole field at home. Lol thx for the laugh.

      3. one thing. MC’s #’s didn’t change as much as some claim. b/c of the 2 OTs and whatnot, both QB’s played around 8g1q and threw exactly 218 passes each.

        MC w/ AS had 43 catches 499 yds and 4 TDs.
        MC w/ CK had 42 catches 606 yds and 5 TDs.

        the 1 difference is the yards, but 172 of that (along w/ 8 catches and 2 TDs) came in the last game of the season vs an Arizona team that had quit.

        If you take the previous ypg of the CK to MC connection it would have been 496 or 504.5 yds depending on whether you wanted to account for that 1st Rams game that ended in a tie.

        The caveat is the playoffs, but that could have been a porous d in Green Bay (see Anquan Boldin) and playing from way behind against prevent defenses in Atlanta and Baltimore.

        The point is not to say Alex is good, the point is to say that Colin isn’t this QB that uplifted Crabtree. It just looked prettier b/c CK throws deep. But the dynamic aspect CK brought last season was in the read option, not the passing game.

        Last season, Crabtree truly looked faster and stronger even when Alex was the QB than he had in the past.

      4. Whatnot,
        Crabtree’s 2012 numbers:

        With Smith:
        56.6 yards per game
        4 TD’s

        With Kaepernick:
        88 yards per game
        8 TD’s

        Per game averages extrapolated over a 16 game season:

        With Smith:
        906.66 Yards
        7.11 TD’s

        With Kaepernick:
        1408 Yards
        12.8 TD’s

        At the end of the day, there is a significant difference in production. “I think he trusted me more. Playing wide receiver, you need a quarterback who trusts you. I feel like he trusted me,” Crabtree told NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano while appearing on “NFL Total Access” on Tuesday.

    2. FDM,

      It depends on the defense. Sometimes moving the pocket is easier for the QB because it cuts down his decision making and if you are facing an aggressive defense it can also lead to a big play.

      You obviously don’t want to move the pocket all the time, but in this case with an athlete of Kap’s caliber and some of the pass protection issues the Oline has had at times, they should be doing it more than they are imo.

      The worst thing an offense can do is become predictable and I think the Niners are at that point right now.

      1. I think he has to be the guy that plays from the pocket and delivers that ball down field, underneath and every where else that it needs to be. This has to happen more consistently than devising an offense with a roll out.
        He has some great physical talents but I have not seen too many NFL QB’s stay healthy and be productive from playing outside the pocket more than they do inside of it.

      2. I didn’t say move him outside the pocket more than dropping back, just that they should do it more than they do which is minimal. Part of his game is his ability to run the footall; you can’t take that out of his repertoire if you want him to be effective, especially when he’s still developing as a Pocket QB.

      3. He’s got to learn to climb the pocket and go through his progressions. Until he can do that, he won’t be unstoppable…..

      4. rocket,
        Just an opinion, but could it be the 49ers went into the Panthers game with an ultra conservative offensive scheme with the hope that they could still win and save their best fire-power for games against the Saints and C-hawks?

        Afterall, the 49ers coaxed the Packers into thinking that they were a one-dimensional (running) team and Kap burned them in the air.

        Having witnessed the air assault by Kap and Roman in that first game gives me reason/hope to believe that this team is capable of attacking any defense when they want too.

        I believe that the conservative game plan (not wanting to show all their arsenal) against the Panthers and subsequent loss was a total unexpected backfire.

      5. Razor,

        Agreed, but you can’t do it at the expense of winning games. He will learn and get better at it, but you can’t keep dropping him back without changing it up and expect different results. You want to Coach him up, not completely blow his confidence. They need to put him in position to excel along with teaching him the nuances of being a pocket passer.

        AES,

        Anything is possible, but I just think they got outplayed to be honest. I didn’t see any difference in their mindset as far as the pass to run ratio and if anything they should have ran it more in the second half. I don’t think they are holding anything back; they just aren’t executing what they do very well.

    3. Ninermd nailed it. We already know he can throw on the run. He has to learn how to go through his progressions within the pocket and deliver the goods…..

      1. Old9er guy. It was one bad game from the O-line. This o-line always has that one stinker in a year. They’ve been one of the best units all season. I like CK and hope he can become great, but like other players that haven’t played well, I’m calling him out too. He hasn’t played well at all this season. Besides the GB game he doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket. He has never been a pocket qb. It’s a learning curve, and they have to stick to it. They know that running qb’s don’t last in this league long. The statues in the pocket do. I’ve also noticed he’s not elusive in the pocket. Great runner when he has room, but scrambling isn’t a gift he has.
        It’s not on just the o-line. That’s why it’s so frustrating.
        Is it…. Coaching, the qb, the o-line, the injuries to receivers or they didn’t run the ball enough?
        Very frustrating.

      2. older9er, this was one of the worst OL performances in the past few years with regards to pass protection.

        Also, CK did not step into the pocket and looked rushed.

    4. Good point FDM, they’re going to keep him in the pocket until the playoffs, I think. But if he’s in the pocket I think they should do for Kaepernick what Andy Reid is doing for Alex Smith, and that’s to constantly have Charles come out of the backfield matched on a linebacker. I’d like to see more of LMJ, K. Hunter, & Frank Gore as receivers out of the backfield. Even McDonald was at his best in college as a halfback out of the backfield on short passes to muscle his way to 1st downs.

    1. You’re right, let’s see if Mike Singletary is available.

      Harbaugh has an us v. the world attitude.. he’s not going to say or give anything away he thinks might be used against him. Harbaugh is still one of the best coaches in football.. we are lucky in that our problems are just adjustments, instead of wholesale personnel changes.

  2. What people don’t realize is that defenses are scheming to keep CK within the pocket. They know of his athletic ability, and adjust their rushing lanes and defense to keep CK within the tackles, right where they want him. Watch him on any of their play-action bootleg attempts, the backside defensive-end is almost always keeping containment on CK through the fake, rather than chase down the ball-carrier from the backside.

    I agree with Harbaugh though in regards to hindsight. It’s easy to look afterwards and say why didn’t you run here, or pass there, etc…. after we see the outcome.

    1. good point. Ends and OLBs on opposing defenses have been tasked to crash down on Kaepernick if there is any hint that he may have the ball be it a designed roll out or a read option play.

      1. Therefore:

        Opposing teams have taken away the the ‘pistol’, so let’s get back to the pro-set and let CK’s running ability be a spontaneous move and not cost us the extra seconds it takes to make a decision. We can always call a QB draw.

  3. The Niners’ offense suffers from several problems:

    1) They’re trying to be a downfield passing team with possession WRs, long developing routes with slow receivers means Kap is going to have to hold the ball longer. Design shorter pass routes, get Kap into 3-step drops.. he’s the ball outta his hands sooner, allows the receiver to get YAC.

    2) Too much shifting and motion. In Roman’s effort to confuse the defense, he’s only confusing his players.. and mainly his QB. Kap is 20 starts into his career, let him get everyone lined up and give a chance to look over the defense. Having Kap shift and motion means he’s going to have to re-scan the defense and adjust to their adjustments. I believe it’s confusing the WRs and OL.. the WRs arent confident in their routes and the OL has re-establish whom to block.

    3) If the Niners are going to get a passing game going, how about incorporating what Kap knows: the spread/pistol? It should have netted us a Super Bowl last season, why go away from what was working? The only reason why the Niners dont use more spread is because Gore is better and comfortable in the I-formation. I’d like to see the Niners mix spread/shotgun 1/2 the time, and other half power-I. LMJ and Hunter would thrive in a single-back, as they arent power runners like Gore.. LMJ looked pretty good in the playoffs in it. You can’t just cater to Gore, more shotgun/spread will get Kap into something he knows and is comfortable.. and when he’s under center, you can take some deep shots with the run fake.

    Play to your strengths, stop fitting square pegs into round holes.

  4. The real Grant Cohn makes a comeback! Who’s the impostor that’s been parading around as Grant Cohn the last month or so?

    This is a great post.

      1. Calling someone a Natzi, who happens to be Jewish is the lowest bottom dweller comment, I ever heard. Talking about morons.How is life, one small wiener. You sound miserable and depressed. Although I doubt therapy or meds will help you. You look at life as one big sour grape. Sorry you make me laugh, and I don’t have empathy for you.

      2. Neal

        Go to school. Learn about the behaviors of the Third Reich. You will understand that no other regime has ever practiced the Art of Exclusion to such a refined degree.

      3. and clearly i’m implying that the blogking from the last few weeks is not the same as this version of Grant Cohn.

        Grant Cohn 2.0, if you will. New and improved.

    1. E,

      Calling anyone a Nazi is sick in any content. It appears you are a fan of the Third Reich, that being said, which is pretty sad.

      1. shut up…….who cares what you think…..its a new page, new topic, move forward………its pretty sad you can’t ignore it and move on……

      2. One small weiner, you move forward, look at the past posts, your the one that is sniffing me. What happen to you? Why are you so negative? How was your childhood?

  5. Grant,

    Question about dealing with Harbaugh. You’ve been hitting him with some great technical questions lately. But in typical Harbaugh fashion he usually closes up and gives an answer that contains some variation of: 1. you (the press) have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. 2. Our guys are doing some good things. 3. We need to execute better.

    So my questions to you are: would it be better to hit Harbaugh with a softer question that might lead to some substance? I don’t know…I’m asking if other reporters have had some success and how they got it? Would your more technical questions (launch points? really?…most would simply say move the pocket) yield better answers by asking Roman?

    1. You make some good points, and I’ve been getting frustrated by Coach Harbaugh’s non-answers too. But the more I ponder it, the more I realize this: what else can the man really say? When he’s bombarded with a constant barrage of”why didn’t you do this?” or “why don’t you run that?”, are we really waiting for him to say “God, you’re right! I never thought of it, but I’ll sure put that in next Sunday. And thanks for the insight.”
      All I’m saying is, put yourself in his place up there on the podium… how would you answer these questions? Are there ANY answers that would satisfy a fan base that’s pissed off about what’s happening with their team and who also has that “luxury of hindsight”?
      In the end, I’ve got to think that this coaching staff likely knows what’s going on, what our weaknesses are, and the degree to which our problems can be addressed with the weapons we’ve got. I refuse to believe that they are all just stupid.
      Hopefully we’ll get some guys healthy, make a few adjustments, and win most of our remaining games. I’m not holding my breath about winning the division anymore; I hate the seahawks with a passion, but they are good, and they win even when they play poorly this year. It might just be their year. It goes that way some times.
      Either way, the Niners are my team, and I’ll just go on rooting for them and hope for the best.

      1. Agreed and well said.

        Being an NFL coach seems like a really tough job: your successes and failures are clearly spelled out for everyone to see, you have millions of people talking about your mistakes online, and you have to deal with a media system that tends to hyperbolize and distract the people you’re supposed to be leading. Almost any information you give away puts you at a competitive disadvantage, so you’re not allowed to say a lot of the things that are on your mind.

        But of course if it weren’t for the media the NFL wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is today.

  6. The X’s and O’s, the complexities and variables of personnel match ups and individual assignments and execution of the various play calls on both sides of the ball are mind-boggling. The QB has literally seconds to make adjustments, decisions, and execute each play. The speed of this physical game is breath-taking. Only experience can help “slow down” the game for a young QB, which will happen in time and improve his decision-making and, hence, performance. The coaching staff can help or hinder, based on their decisions. Limiting Kaep’s receiving weapons, due to injury and choice, along with predictable and/or questionable play calls and strategies, hasn’t helped. Yet, the game still comes down to execution, and that is an all-inclusive factor. Even the best matchups and play calls will fail if the execution isn’t there. It’s still a team game, and that means everyone: coaching staff and players, as well as support personnel. One weak link in the chain can result in the failure (example: Kaep puts a long pass on the hands of a TE–McDonald–and he drops it) of one play; and an accumulation of failures result in a lost game and, ultimately, a lost season. You get to define yourself play by play, and game by game. Who will the 49ers be this week? We’ll see.

  7. You’ve been on fire the past couple of days Grant! It will be interesting to see if they start doing any of the things you have asked about.

    1. Excellent news! I know he didn’t set the world on fire the first part of the season, but I’ve still got high hopes for Patton. The more time he can spend on the field the better off he’ll be.

      1. It’s possible Patton will still have to make a couple key catches for us down the stretch. Glad to have him back in the mix.

    2. He’s a quick healer. I thought he might be a candidate for IR awhile back but now I see why they didn’t. Let’s hope he stays healthy from here on out.

  8. On the 28 plays where the 49ers rolled out Kaepernick, he completed 16 passes for 166 yards.

    He passed for 10 first downs and ran for 1 – a 7-yard run on second-and-6 against the Rams.

    There were 6 drops – 2 by Kyle Williams, 1 by Bruce Miller, 1 by Vernon Davis, 1 by Vance McDonald and 1 by Anquan Boldin.

    1 pass was caught out of bounds by Frank Gore in Tennessee (he looked in bounds to me).

    Add those in, and Kaepernick would have been 23-of-27 on roll outs.

    1 pass was intercepted after it was tipped along the line of scrimmage by a leaping Karlos Dansby.

      1. Nice. One quick piece of hopefully constructive criticism. As I am sure you know, moving the launch point doesn’t necessarily mean rolling the QB outside of the tackle. You can move the launch point and still technically be within the pocket.

        Just something that may change the way the coach responds to the question.

        1. Great point, and I believe I counted those. Kaepernick really is dropping straight back 9 out of every 10 drop backs this season.

      2. I don’t doubt that he is. Do you know of anywhere that breaks down a QB’s throws from inside and outside the pocket, not just on the designed plays?

    1. I’ve been wondering what Kap’s stats were when changing the launching spot, thanks for taking the time to do the research on that Grant! Work keeps me too busy to do the 49ers stats research I’d love to, but I’m always curious. Good stuff, Mr. Cohn.

  9. ““I didn’t hear what he had to say, but he’s not in the building with us so what he’s saying really doesn’t affect me at all,” Kaepernick said of Dilfer. “I’m worried about what this team thinks and what I’m doing in here with my teammates.””

    CKone needs to start listening……….and he needs to let what ppl are saying affect him in a positive way……or he would be labeled a bust after this season….

    his career is taking a rex grossman path…

    1. He does need to start listening, but definitely not to Trent Dilfer of all people. Dilfer’s modus operandi suits Alex Smith but definitely not Kaepernick or that style of QB.

  10. During the three losses this year, did the coaching staff put together a poor game plan, or were their in-game adjustments bad, or was it a case of lack of execution?

    1. Hard to tell. The final score dictates if the week was successful or not. Give credit where credit is due, Carolina is giving up 13 point a game this year; sure the offense struggled but special teams was lack luster as well. After every loss, we all get to play Monday morning QB and ask loaded, open-ended questions that we can debate the whole week until the next game.

  11. On reflection, wouldn’t pretty much every Coach deflect questions like that? Its just a matter of style how they avoid/deflect/spin, but nobody gives out kitchen secrets. BB and Harbaugh just don’t even bother. Walsh didn’t give out an iota of information that he didn’t intend to, and I have trouble envisioning him in engaging that conversation from the podium with a scribe.
    Ditka? Heeheehee. Tom Landry was very polite; like a spokesman for the State Department. Okay, that list is endless but the point is made. Hank Stramm and John Madden could be motor-mouths, but they didn’t give up Diddley.
    That being said, its an interesting question. I’m just not surprised to get no answer.

  12. I would like to add my 2 cents worth. How do we know Kap can’t read de-
    fenses. What good does it do to correctly read a defense if almost the same
    moment the ball is snapped the defense is swarming thru your O line like it
    wasn’t even there?

    He’s an excellent passer but has almost no one to throw to. We have only two
    guys that can catch a football on the whole team.

    We need a new left tackle a new left guard and a new center and a new OC.

    1. Older Guy,

      Are you saying the 49ers should replace Joe Staley and Iupati? I guess I could see not resigning Iupati, if the price is too steep, but Staley is one of the best LT’s in the NFL and is signed through 2017. I don’t see him going anywhere.

  13. Quick passing plays, bunch formations, screen plays and most importantly a safety valve in case his early reads are not there.
    Bill Walsh always had those plays to help, a running back in the flat or a db or a TE finding the soft part of coverages. We don’t have that. That’s what kw should have provided. When crabs gets back, Bolden should play the roll.
    do we know who will be promoted or replace Cox on the roster?

    1. Wishful thinking Big. How many screens have they called since being here? I’d guess 5 at the most. And what’s a bunch formation. Now you’re thinking way to much. That makes to much damn sense.

      1. One can dream right? They need to add those types of plays to the game plan. I would like to see the coaches start leaving kap to call his own audibles rather than the two play let it roll or ” “, I forget. call one play and let him adjust to what he likes or feels. what if he doesn’t like those plays ?

      2. 2 were to Manningham, he dropped 1 and the other was a 14-15 yard gain but was wiped out by a penalty on Boldin. The other one was to Williams for a 5 yard gain.

      3. I don’t see the bunch formation being all that successful for the current Niners. You need at least 2 receivers with high end speed to make it effective. Also that is at least four targets for a young QB to read and progress through. It only helps the running play when it is respected.

        The lack of short passing plays boils down to the trail of history behind the Harbaugh style as outlined in Jack’s article, the makeup and history of this team that Harbaugh inherited, and maybe the lack of touch by Kap.

        Not using more screens is a puzzle?
        ………….Frankly it is all a puzzle.

    2. Is it me or maybe I’m not paying enough attention, but it seem like GR had barely called for the “bunch” formation since Week 1?? I thought it produced positive results vs Green Bay.

    1. Agreed, I really wish we’d see more creativity from the offensive brains in moving Kap around… his arm and athletic ability to extend plays scream for it.

  14. Grant: Would it help if pol questions had a corresponding article allowing people to comment on their answers?

    “Grade the job the 49ers’ offensive brain trust has done so far this season”
    I initially checked A because players matter. There’s only so much a coach can scheme. Missing from last year are Walker, Crabtree (and Vernon last Sunday). That’s alot of offensive firepower.

    But on second thought I might downgrade to B or C.
    - Takes way too long to get plays in. The O-linemen are in their stances too long. Once in a while they should quick count on hut 1. That would keep defenses on edge for the rest of the game because they’d have to stay tensed during the entire pre-snap.
    - Another game lost (in part) because they abandoned the run while averaging over 5 YPC. Why? I have a feeling Gore’s run (pitch) count varies from game to game. Some games he can bell cow all day. Other games he hits a wall or pulls something after 10-15 snaps.

    1. Oh… and I think the read option and pistol formation might (just might) be slowing Colin’s development as a pocket passer.

      The “young” “developing” “kid” Colin Kaepernick is 26 years old. In his 3rd season.

      There is a sweet spot in an athletes career. Its the time where they have the system down pat, and are still at their athletic peak. The earlier they develop an understanding of their craft, the longer their prime will be. Colin needs to become a football expert sooner then many people think.

      For comparative perspective, Alex Smith is 29. He had pre-snap reads of Harbuagh’s offensive system down perfectly at 27… during a lockdown shortened training camp.

      This is not a pro-anti Kaep or Alex statement, just a reminder Kaepernick is no 22 year old doe eyed sprout as many describe him.

  15. After I re-watched the game, I came away with the feeling that the Panthers were the better team that day. Their players seemed to be faster, stronger and more athletic than the Niners. The one player that stood out for SF was Gore. What a delight to watch him run. At first, I expected I would be really down on Kap, but I actually felt sorry for him the second time around. He had very little time to throw, and, from my perspective, I did not see open receivers. The Panthers have a really good defense, and the offense started to open up at the last of the second quarter. Had it not been for some dropped passes by open receivers, I think the Panthers would have won by considerably more than they did. Although the Niners have some good players, I am feeling a little pessimistic about the team going very far this season. Against good teams, I don’t think the Niners have the personnel and coaching to put it together and get it done.

    1. Fair take. This also was my take following the game. Viewing the game on tv is only capturing a small window of seeing the live. But although I watched the game on tv I came away with the same assessment. We played a better team on Sunday. That is why I look forward to getting the perspective of the regular posters here who attend games.
      They see the entire field as well as the attitude of the coaches and players on the sidelines which sometimes say as much about the game as the actual playing taking place on the field.

      But last Sunday is behind us now. It’s all about the Saints now. The Saints are a good team with one of the best QB’ in the league. But their defense is not as fast and strong as the Panthers.

      They can be beat. But we will need to pass on them if we have a chance at a win.
      Our running game is one on the elite in the league, but if that is our only offensive scheme def. cords will load the box and dare us to pass. If we’re are not prepared to pass with a good scheme, then we are being forced to pass which in essence is giving way to what the defense dictates.

      We need to attack the defense instead of playing chess and waiting to see what their next move is.
      Playing conservative and waiting for the defense to make a mistake has not worked for us.

    2. Good point, i just did not sense a spark or killer instinct on the offensive side. They look rusty and did not match the intensity of the Panthers defense. That is one of the reasons i felt bad for the defensive guys since they played hard!

      1. Chicago49er,

        The week off may have actually hurt us.
        We looked too relaxed coming into the game and then looked out of sorts in the 4th Qrtr.

        We see this happen sometimes in the playoffs when a wildcard team upsets a top seed that rested the first week.

  16. Reading the comments by you all there seems to basically be a lack of ingenuity and understanding of personnel with the play calling. Makes you wonder why Greg Roman didn’t get much play last off season with so many coaching vacancies. To many diverse players in Hunter, LMJ, Hunter, McDonald not to be involved in the game. These guys should be dominant out of the backfield as hot reads for Kaepernick. And we want to get on McDonald for dropping the only pass he’s seen all night. No rhythm when you’re not involved in the schemes.

  17. So he is saying that it is ok to loose to Saints because it will be a part of the plan?? Not making to play-offs could be a part of plan and if we make it to Play-offs then it would be a part of plan to play against Seahawks in Seattle?
    So Kaepernick didn’t show me intelligence of Alex Smith. Last year he was successful because Alex Smith was on his side and helping with plays.
    We are doomed as 49ers. I don’t believe he has the abilities to read defenses or finidng his WRs other then just one at a time and if he covered , he would either take a sack or throw it to ground or make a fatal mistake . The last resort is run.

    1. very interesting so now CKs performances on the field is due to lack of presence of Alex on the side line to help him. Please tell me you are just saying this out of frustration!

      1. Chicago49ers,

        The 49ers are, at their offensive core, a power running football team, whose passing attack lacks the sophistication of those, say, the Saints, Packers , Broncos and Cowboys.

        During their five game winning streaks, the 49ers beat their opponent by an average of 22 points, their running game and the defense compensated for their poor passing game.

        With the lack of a passing game, the 49ers will not survive against quality teams with a superior defense and if they make the playoff, they’ll make an early exit.

        They shouldn’t put the blame on Roman or the offensive line and the receiving core for the team losses. Kap is the leader on the field running the offense; he’s accountable to whatever happens on the field good or bad, his the general on the field.

      2. Cape, i respectfully disagree with you that CK should shoulder the entire burden of the teams success. He is too young and inexperience to do that in this stage of his career. Football is a team sport and yes the team leaders, specifically the QB must be the leader but the entire team including the coaches must work together for the best outcome. To my opinion Niners still can go deep in the playoffs if they improve a few things.

      3. Chicago49er,
        The reason I’ve said that the 49ers are taking an early exit in the playoffs. For one thing, they have to play the teams again that beat the 49ers.

        I’m sorry I have to disagree with you on this one. I don’t see anything that would change my perspective comes playoff time. The 49ers have a good defense but their offense will struggle against quality teams with superior defense.

      4. There’s also no guarantee that these ‘good teams’ will be playing at the level they were when they beat the Niners. Being good in week 3 isn’t the same as being good in week 17. Roles can reverse completely.

      5. Bray,

        I hope for the 49ers sake and their fan base that you are right. But my view on how this season is going to unfold for the49ers is not going to change.

        The remaining seven games ahead will determine the 49ers faith. 49ers will lose three or four out of the seven games in the remaining schedule.

        Nov 17, The Saints will beat the 49ers by 3 TD’s at N.O 38-13

        Nov 25, 49ers lose at Washington will be a close game.

        Dec 01, Rams are a much better team from last time they played. Let’s see which Rams comes to the stick.

        Dec 08, The Seahawks will win at the Stick. 35-17

        Dec 15, 49ers will beat the Bucs

        Dec 23, The Falcons is not a formidable opponent; 49ers win their final game of the season at the stick, Farewell to Candlestick Park.

        Dec 29, The Cardinals will beat the 49ers at home in Arizona.

  18. Grant, on this point I completely agree with you. Thanks for asking the question and its follow-ups, that couldn’t have been pleasant for you with Jim “Is that what you think?” Harbaugh.

    Move the pocket, call screens, misdirections, draws – and most of all, stick with the running game more.

    This O-line is one of the league’s best at run-blocking but more and more proves to be one of the weaker units at pass protection. Roman can’t seem to face that. And he keeps trying to impose his plan on the game, rather than flowing with events. His stubbornness, I believe, is the main cause of the three losses. Kaep has played poorly, but clearly the coaches have created opportunities to fail.

  19. Poor Passing Performance

    Due to the poor passing performance this season there has been a lot of discussion about CKs inability to go through his progression and some fans already losing faith in his ability to lead this team to the playoffs. Although Ck has struggled this season and he needs to continue to improve, this issue is much more dynamic than just Cks inability to utilize his receiving options! Lets take a look at some of the contributing factors and how it impacts CKS performance:

    _ Losing Crabtree, the most trusted wr in our offense which has established chemistry with CK has made it much more difficult for a young QB to adjust to the defensive schemes! I know this is no excuse in the NFL and it is the QBs responsibility to perform but it is going to take some time for him to adjust. Football is a game of momentum so if things go south it will be very difficult to dig yourself out of a hole while you are trying to adapt. A great example of the impact of losing the number one wr is andrew luck and his performance without wayne against the Rams! Keep in mind Andrew is also much more ahead of Ck in playing the pro offense.

    - Losing Walker has been a huge issue for this offense since Walker was used as a dual threat in run blocking as well as passing game. Walker and VD changed the strategy for defenses to contain 49ers offense and currently Bruce Miller is our Swiss Army knife but he can not stretch the field and defenses will target our number one wr or vd due to lack of deep threat speed, therefore CK is going to have less area to work with!

    - Lack of stability in the offensive roster and chemistry specifically between the QB and the new wideouts/TEs has impacted CKs performance. Keep in mind we lost Walker, Crabtree, Manningham, and have several new skilled players on the offense. Vance M is still very young and has not build the trust with CK yet! To make this issue worst, for whatever reason the coaching staff did not play the starters during the preseason enough to work on the passing game. Vance also needs to learn to find the holes in the defense when there is pressure on CK to create an outlet for the young QB.

    - Offensive game plan has not put CK in a position to make shorter, easier and quicker throws in this season to establish a rhythm for the offensive unit and promote confidence. We simply just handed the ball off to mask the bigger issue. Most Cks attempts appear to be in the intermediate or long situations. Last game against the panthers with the front four pressure the game plan should have adjusted to shorter passes to put more pressure on the defense rather than allow sacks and contribute to major lost of yards!

    If you take a look at the several games last year Ck displayed the ability to go through his progression several times with pressure and found other options with success so why is it suddenly he can not find another option! Also, i have seen him to pump fake in one direction and then throw to another target. So the question is why ck has become one dimensional in his reads suddenly! By the way we had the same exact issue with our QBs in the past several years!

      1. Great analysis, Chi-Town.
        I have to say that the greatest value of this blog for me has been learning the nuances of the game from people who really know all the nuts and bolts.
        Thanks to you, guys like the Hammer, and of course Grant, for the upper-division course on pro football. You’ve made me a better educated Niner fanatic. I still scream and swear at the tv, but at least I know more about who to direct it towards!

    1. Chicago,
      You are right we saw Kap making good reads and progressions last year. Kap was comfortable in his college offense last year and NFL defenses were not at all comfortable with it or at least until older brother John had three or more weeks to figure out what to do about it.
      Those multimil NFL coaches learn and react quick. Younger brother Jim, I think, being the college coach that he is, was caught by surprise by the quick learn and adjust of the NFL. Did not practice pro set enough in offseason. They were going to go pistol set and read option at start of this year. Bang bang shoot shoot with Kap and Colt. Hey we all checked into that Nevada casino.
      Fast forward just past one off season and surprise we have a whole new ball game. Kap is often out of the pistol and in the pro set, in the Niner run first version, where he is not so comfortable.

      As I have said several times several things caught Niner staff off guard to put us here:

      Sonic speed adjust of NFL defensive coordinators.
      Hole in rule book leading to threat to QB in read option. And weak QB backup compounding that.
      The rest of the Niner offense and what they were built to be both by current and past staff.

      1. Square peg round hole. Niners trying to make Boldin a number one, and he’s a number two. Niners tried to make Williams a number two and he’s a second rate three at best. Even Manningham is a three, but he’s a HUGE upgrade over what we’ve had at two.

        When Crabs comes back it fixes the issues. Crabs at one, Boldin at two and Manningham at three. Then teams have to pick their poison. Sell out to stop Kaep? Sell out to stop the run? Double VD? Double Crabs?

      2. Who stretches the field vertically? All 3 WRs are 4.6 and up as of now. So i guess it has to be Vernon, our TE? Teams will still match up against us the same, Stack the box and press the WRs. Till we prove we can be effective there is no “pick your poison”

      3. Right now they are doubling VD and single covering Boldin with their number one. No one else has consistently gotten open.
        When Crabs comes back the number one will be on him which leaves a defenses second best CB on Boldin. It improves our matchup immediately. And it leaves Manningham single covered with a slot corner.

        My issue is with all the success tall TE’s are having around the league, why isn’t VMac doing better? I know he had a huge drop last game, why isn’t he targeted more? Telling me with his size he can’t box out more?

      4. Adam707,

        Yes, Davis is the main vertical threat, but they don’t use him exclusively in the box. They move him all over the place. On the second pass play last week they motioned him out wide left, and at the snap the FS’s first step was back and in his direction. There was a huge hole for Kaepernick to hit Boldin, but he took too long to get it to him.

        The effect Davis has on the passing game is very similar to Jerry Rice or Terrell Owens (similar body types). The numbers show his importance to the passing game.

  20. I really don’t care for this line of questioning at all. You’re getting alot of pats on the back for asking about changing the launch point but the only thing I got out of this is Harbaugh’s amazing restraint in dealing with a kid who thinks he knows what he’s talking about but really doesnt know. The style in which this blog post was written wreaks of self promotion instead of relaying what Harbaugh said in the entire press conference. You asked this question as if you’ve discovered the key to unlocking the 49ers offense instead of asking a straight question looking for the coach’s interpretation. As if you’re a peer level coach challenging strategy instead of asking a straight scheme question. I don’t care for how this information was presented at all. It’s more self agrandizement than reporting.

    1. Have to say I disagree. The entire transcript is available elsewhere (49ers.com); this blog is devoted to 49ers issues this writer views as important. He’s not speaking for others.

      In the case of these specific questions, he’s raising issues about playcalling that many fans – including me – have wondered about. That means he’s doing Niner fans, and specifically readers of this blog, a journalistic service. In fact, it’s one that goes well beyond the usual postings of opinion about what the team might or should try; this is actually journalistic in that the questions are presented to the ultimate authority himself – someone who has historically not taken kindly to such questioning, I might add.

      It’s hardly putting oneself on par with an interview subject to question the subject’s answers; that’s journalism. Otherwise the powerful would never be held accountable for their actions. In this case, we’re talking about something no more important than sports, but the principle holds – it’s the reporter’s job to seek answers, especially when disturbing trends seem to materialize. I’ve had issues with Cohn’s writing in the past, particularly in regards to Alex Smith, but in this case, he’s simply doing his job as a reporter.

  21. This is not rocket science. I said it Monday and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com wrote a great piece about Kap. We are severely diminished offensively without speed on the edges. We have NO speed at wide recriver. Last season we had Moss stretching the field and dragging the safety. We were able to use his reputation and what tge league thought was his speed to s r retch defenses. We also had a speedy Delanie Walker as a downfield threat that made several big catches for us last year. ( Several big drops too!)

    I’ll say it again. Our front office sat on its hands at the trade deadline. With all the picks we have in the upcoming draft, we should have acquired some speed at wide receiver that could help our young QB. Josh Gordon was there for us. Yes, it may have taken a 2nd and possibly a 6th rounder to get him. That may seem steep to some people. However, how poorly is our paassing offense performing? It was underscored this week vs Carolina. However it was bottom of tge league before this game against Carolina already. Its no so much that Kap is ineffective without Vernon Davis. Kap is ineffective without any speed at wide receiver. Last season we had Manningham, Walker, Moss, Davis and Kyle Williams. This year, just Vernon Davis. We have a problem. We can’t stretch the field.

    1. Is it that hard to find NFL quality receivers? We’ve really blown chunks in the WR evaluation department.
      It’s so bad that Manningham who is a career #3 guy is looked upon as our savior until Crabs comes back….

    2. Jon Baldwin has run a 4.39. Vernon Davis ran a 4.38. Exactly how much speed do you think we need to stretch the defense? Perhaps the issue is the route combo’s instead of speed.

      1. Bray,

        Actually he’d be banned for a year. The thing is, he knows that. So far, so good with Cleveland.

        Jack,

        The rumor was a 2nd round pick for Gordon. However, a 2nd and a 5th should have been sufficient right? The bottom line is, do what you have to do in order to plug a hole on a potential Super Bowl contender. You’re doing the vets on the team a disservice if you don’t. It was your opinion that we didn’t need another wideout. I’m wondering what you think now???? There should be no question about it.

    3. I’ll also say this….I’m getting sick and tired of Harbaugh and Baalke. They NEED to go. Singletary and Raye could do a better job then them with the talen this team has.

  22. It seems so many fans want to see more screens and check downs. Many people on this blog were screaming that the Niners need to throw down the field. They were tired of the short ball control passes. Well now, the Niners are throwing down the field the fans want to see more check downs and screens. I think CK has problems with the short pass. I am beginning to think its not the play calling its more that CK cant make that short throw or that touch pass. The offensive line is built for running the ball and while they are very good at that they are mediocre at best in pass protection. CK is taking a lot of heat for his lack of production. As with Alex there are many factors that play into this lack of production. Dropped passes, penalties, play calling, poor individual decisions, etc. all lend a hand in lack of production. Its a team game and not one individual is totally responsible for the demise of the offense. CK is still very raw and is playing on talent alone, his brain has not yet caught up with his physical abilities and when he finally gets it look out he will be lethal.

    And for you fans that want Harbaugh gone that’s just plain crazy. Have you forgotten how woeful this team was prior to his arrival. Even Walsh had his bad moments, it happens, its why they play the game.

    1. Undercenter you make several good points. I remember all the criticism for the offense not being able to make big plays and stretch the field. You are right since Jim H has taken over with CK as the QB this offense can make much bigger plays and now some people including myself are questioning why we do not utilize shorter passing strategy! I believe the issue here is lack of balance based on the game situation and what the defense is doing to contain CK. The fan base would like for the coaching staff to put the current players in the best position to win and its much easier to just make assumptions when you do not know all the inside facts!!!

      Its purely silly for any fan to ask for changes in the coaching staff at this point. Jim Harbaugh has been a great coach for this organization and he will continue to improve with more experience.

      However i disagree with your perception that CK can not throw the touch pass or the short pass at this stage of his career due to lack of evidence. In very seldom situations that he has thrown to Frank, Bruce or even the WR on a slant he has been very effective, so i am not sure why you believe he can not effectively execute the short passing game plan if needed!

      It would be great if the media would actually ask more system related questions rather than putting the coaching staff in a position to point fingers at players or other coaches. Specially since coach Jim H will not point fingers and single out players like what we were use to in the past.

      If i was a reporter i would be much more political when approaching coach Harbaugh by attaching the issue rather than people. For example i would ask:

      Coach, Your team and coaches worked very hard in preparation for the games, surly the outcome of the this past game must be very disappointing for team. Would you please share with us how the Panthers defense neutralized the passing game? Did you learn anything specific from this game that you believe can help the passing game to be more productive in the future?

      1. Kap has demonstrated short pass ability on occasion (not often called for). He does have to take the heat off and get more trajectory.
        It is mostly in the play calling. The run game that the Niners like works better with deep passes to stretch the field and open up the D box. Remember the threat of Gore pulls the defenders up as we see and that is not an flooded flat you do not want to be tossing balls into.

    2. Good points undercenter. I think the key is being able to have a mix of both and we rarely see the short throws underneath like we did with Smith. A balance of the two is ideal.

      I’m certainly not going to call for anybody’s head including Roman’s at this point because this team has won a lot of games. I do however get concerned with what I see from the passing game and think they need to alter their thinking a bit.

    3. Jack,

      Some of that was due to Kap being pressured or just leaving the pocket, but it also shows an imbalance on where the passes are going. They took one deep shot all afternoon and it went to McDonald. They had short passes and bubble screens available to them if called but rarely if ever did.

      It’s a mix of playcalling and Kaps inability to trust what he sees right now imo. Maiocco had a good article on what he saw after reviewing the all 22 and said there were times Kap just held onto the ball when he had somebody open. That is not trusting what you see or the receivers that are getting open, so until he gets past that he will struggle.

      Did you take note of how they faired in different formations by any chance? It did not look from my first viewing that they had much production from the Pistol and used it quite a bit.

      1. Rocket,

        Gore had a couple nice gains from the Pistol, and the one time Kaepernick kept it he was dropped for a loss of 6 or 7.

        Against teams with good gap discipline the QB part of the read is not effective. We’ve seen it all season.

  23. So as we all speculate on how to improve the passing game, sometimes we over-think it. CK (and/or the coaches) may be over-thinking too; it looks like the game hasn’t completely slowed for him yet. I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t help but to send in Kap on the second series and say: “Look, the headsets are down right now. Go in there, draw up some plays in the dirt, and get us a couple of first downs while we get our system back up and running.” And then stand back and watch. Does he have some Favre in him? (A little Brett goes a long way).

  24. Your father would remember this. The first year Walsh coached here we lost to Atlanta . The coach later said he tried the plays bill used during the game, and they worked on his defense. The 49ers didn’t have the talent to execute it. Kap will be ok but only homers will deny that Wilson is the better qb even if he isn’t as uber talented. The problem is the wrs, as evident in the sb and the championship game the year before. If the ol can’t overpower the opponent their offense dies. Theor wr are so pathetic they can’t help out. 3 years of locust third down conversions. Harbaugh does not seem to have the marbles like his brother to change things to adapt . ( Cameron the ravens oc was fired and th ol changed around mid season) that’s a really really bad sign IMO, as it shows he is more like Dikta than bill Walsh.

  25. Pathetic stat of the day-
    Nick Foles last TWO weeks- 10 TDs
    Colin Kaepernick WHOLE season- 9 TDs
    These stats are passing TD only.

    1. Adam707,

      You seemed to have lost your football savvy or it’s being buried in the outbursts. Foles is in a different offense and his team played the Raiders and the Packers without Rodgers. Kap threw for 4 touchdowns against the Packers in game 1. Did you see the Eagles- Packers game? I did. Foles 1st TD was a missed interception. The other two were legit but GB was deflated because Tolzien kept giving the ball away to the Eagle defense.

      We don’t throw the ball around like the Eagles. Patience my friend. We are 6-3. We have a great defense. We have a chance to win out if we can get the passing game respectable. I’m not losing the faith. I’m pissed as well but I’m still here. We’re still in this. We will win this weekend.

      1. With that being said 23welcher, who have the Niners played that is for real? I’m not knocking but you keep taking away credit to teams that win, well who on our schedule have we played, won, and is a playoff type team?

      2. FDM, the answer is none. AZ is our biggest win and it took a larry Fitz mistake to win it. Tenn just lost to jax, hou has lost 6 in a row (maybe 7?), STL is mediocre, jax is arguable the worst team in history. GB is the only impressive win on our record. And we beat them with Rodgers and Cobb and Mathews 100%. I was one of the few who wasn’t impressed with the whole 5 straight 30 point games. Those stats didn’t matter to me. I looked at the play of the qb and still realized we had an issue. Outside of the GB and Az game he has been dirt! But there’s nothing but improvement from here, don’t think he can play worse.

      3. Matt Flynn threw for 480 yards and six TD’s a couple of years ago in Green Bay. What has he done since then? Kaep will never throw for 6 TD’s because Harbaugh would grind the clock down as soon as he felt they had a manageable lead. They are very different offensive philosophies. Kaep has a lot of room for improvement, but that should be expected from a player with only a season under his belt. I believe his production would be much higher if Crabtree wasn’t out, but you have to make due with what you have. Tom Brady is one of the all time greats, but he only has 13 TD’s vs 6 int’s. Peyton Manning has an insane 33 TD’s and 6 int’s. You can only do so much without weapons, and the Niner’s lost their best offensive weapon when Crabtree went down. They failed with the Jenkins pick and Boldin is matched up against better CB’s than he would normally face. It sucks, but you have to ride it out.

    2. I am just upset with the passing production this season. I like many had high hopes and expectations for Kap. Expectations he’s no where near achieved. He has digressed majority. Time to stop the Kaepernicking and commercials and focus on the game. I’m still hopeful but as of now disappointed.

      1. Adam707,

        I couldn’t believe all of the endorsement he got this year. Clearly, no matter what he says, that had to take some time away from him that he could’ve put into preparing himself for the season. It’s true, he hasn’t arrived yet. He has plenty of time. Just remember that he was without his favorite target this year. It’s fair to say that Crabtree would have at least 400 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns right now. That would certainly not put us 32nd in the league in passing.

        Now when Crabtree comes back, he at least serves as a trusted agent for Kap and another legit weapon for us. We are also in the top 10 in the league in dropped passes. Injuries are a part of the game. We beat Carolina if VD does not get concussed, if Hunter does not fumble, if McDonald wraps up that 40 yard catch. That’s real.

      2. 23j
        We are also in the top 10 in the league in dropped passes.
        But a wise man once stated ‘dropped passes’ stat just clouds the truth. :)
        And where did you get that stat?

      3. As for this year I think our passing game with remain the same. We will hover right around 200 ypg. Even with crab back, mainly due to him not being 100%. Kap may have some big games but overall they’ll even out. In the offseason we need to go after a speedy WR. One to stretch the field. And get Kap another full off season. Also I hope we re sign boldin. Would be the smart decision. He too has meaty claws.

    3. Adam707,

      Yet somehow the 49ers have the same average points per game as the Eagles.

      As I repeated to Grant several times the other day, who cares about passing touchdowns? The goal is to score points and the 49ers have done that. For all of the worry this week, fans need to realize that this team is in the top 10 in points scored.

      1. Ppg is often an inflated stat. We put up a lot vs bad Ds (hou, jax, GB). But have we scored vs good defenses? Seattle, Indy, Car? About 6.3 ppg. And Indy D isn’t really that good. So personally idc bout ppg.

      2. Yes but the concern is a pretty big one isn’t it? Kaepernick has completely regressed in a number of areas. His accuracy has been horrendous at times, hes played very poorly, worst completion percentage in the league poorly, when pressured and has been near useless running the football. Those three problems are huge and what makes them so disconcerting is you could say last year that those three were strengths. Last year he was deadly accurate and his completion percentage only looked worse because of the % of his attempts downfield, he was great under pressure (5th best accuracy percentage), and he was amazing running the football especially in the red zone and got us chunk plays with ease. While these flaws have been highlighted in the losses they’ve actually been present consistently in nearly every game.

      3. In my opinion the outcome of the last 2 losses is different if Davis plays/finishes.

        I don’t know if I would say Kaepernick has regressed as much as he hasn’t progressed. About the same guy we saw last year from a throwing standpoint.

    4. Through 9 games in 2012 the 49ers averaged 216 passing yards per game.

      Through 9 games in 2013 the 49ers have averaged 188 passing yards per game.

      That’s only a 28 yard difference for a team that has played without its best receiver all season, and without it’s best deep threat for 6+ quarters.

      1. Good point Jack, but I think the primary difference is the fact the Niners had one major failure against the Giants last year in those 1st 9 games and have had 3 so far this season. They didn’t play well in Minny last year either, but the offense wasn’t completely shut down the way it has been in the 3 losses this season.

        That is what concerns me the most. The 3 best teams the Niners have played this year have made them look incompetent offensively.

      2. Jack – But Alex started those first 9 games. If Kap would’ve started those first 9 games, Niners would’ve only averaged 46 yards passing per game. Did I just say that? Wow…..All arrows down right now.

      3. You’re missing the big picture. Seattle has their number up there, that’s nothing new. In the other 2 losses they were without their best offensive player.

    1. This is a very good Maiocco article. Read Hammer’s last blog first for background then read this as a followup.
      Key points:
      Niners offense is run first but we need a passing game when defense is good against the run.
      O line did an okay job at pass protection.
      Receivers were better than the current thinking. They were often open but missed.
      The buck starts or stops with Kap. He is having a tough time with reads.
      It is up to Harbaugh and Roman to make this young QB’s job easier.
      In particular they need to bring in screens and short passes.

      Gee… where did I hear that before?

  26. speaking of “launch points”….

    how many more years… (1…2…3…)
    does Jim Harbaw remain as head coach
    if he proves unable to bring home
    Lombardi trophy #6…?

    We have talented players…

  27. Even with all of my negativity lately (rightfully warranted IMO) the niners WOULD NOT be any better with Smith at QB. I still believe we would be 6-3. People are talking about how wrong it was to get rid of smith like he’s manning or something. Getting two 2′s for Smith was the correct decision.

    1. Go east young man. The gold is in them thar prairie dog mounds.
      I will be rooting for Niner mid west Sunday night, with those nice guys Smith and Williams, who each had bad luck in the west and yet took it well. Onto greener pastures.
      And then there is that nugget over there that we let slip away. The rookie who has been a difference maker for them. That one leaves a bitter taste.

    2. E,

      Something is definitely missing here with us and tgese receivers. So far, none of the receivers that we’ve released have done anything. That validates the staffs thinking that tgey needed to be cut. Our problem clearly stems from the evaluation aspect. Our staff is not identifying quality NFL wide receivers. This is our 3rd year with the same problem. We had to rely on Moss to stretch tge field last year. I’ve said that I hope that it’s really the inability of the wideouts and not Kap. However, I do believe now that its Kaps fault. I believe the kid is missing open guys and not giving his WR’s a chance to make plays by his lack of trust. That is unacceptable.

      1. I hope you’re wrong about Kap, Jordan. We have a bigger problem it that’s the case. I think though, we should wait until a healthy Manningham and Crabtree are out on the field before we judge Kap and the passing game. I understand your point though.

      2. JORDO

        There’s a lot to be said for rhythm passing, and the Niners offensive staff doesn’t get that. If it did, LaM would play WAY more snaps and would be a primary pass-catching option out of the backfield. In having to defend a short passing threat, stacked defensive fronts would be forced to play laterally in addition to trying to push the pocket.

        I am losing faith in Harbaugh.

      3. E,

        I truly wish LMJ was being used in the passing game. The Saints use screens more than any team in football. On the flip side, we dont use them at all. How the heck can you not use your quickest player on your offense.

    1. I hope Grant puts up Roman’s response in his presser to the same question he asked Harbaugh about rolling Kaepernick out in his next article.

  28. Tell you what worries me in this game. Our scheme covering Graham. Here is where I thought Nnamdi would excel. The main thing I worry about though is T Brock. He likes to jump routes. If there’s one thing that Brees is a master of, it’s the pump fake. I hope T Brock is disciplined this game and doesn’t guess.

    1. I agree bay! I do believe this game will be won or lose by the front 7.. If we put Bree’s on his back or disrupt his passing lanes we will win the game… I truly believe kaep will come out firing this game and haurbaugh and roman will call an aggressive game plan from here on out… This is the week were LMJ becomes a big factor offensively…

    1. Jack i dont see how he was open base on this image since the backer was lurking in the middle of the field and the db could have changed direction if the ball was thrown over the two defenders in the middle. Certainly that was an option but not an easy throw or a safe one.

      1. Chicago,

        The LB is all the way outside the opposite hash. If he rips that ball to McDonald on the outside of the hash that he (Vmac) is on it is an easy pitch and catch. Guys don’t often get more open than this in the NFL.

  29. I am yet again convinced that a diamond formation is the solution to the Niner woes this year. So I am going to beat this drum once again.
    I like it because:
    It fits the current personnel — most important reason
    It brings out strengths and deals with weaknesses
    Employs some talent currently on the bench
    Gives a slower pro set learning curve to Kap
    Can offer a small bridging between pistol and standard pocket for Kap
    Preserves and even improves on the run first goal offering a balanced front
    Offers extra blocking and additional run threats
    Gives Gore what he needs
    Provides targets for short passing game
    Forces D into single coverage on wide outs by heavily loaded offense box, balanced front, greater power run, QB requiring match up.
    Brings back the element of surprise — keeps defense guessing
    Keeps the offense simple with one set yet offering many options from there.
    Spreads the field far and wide

    It was said in a past blog that the Niner offense needs to get back to dictating to the defense (a la Walsh) and not the other way around as it clearly was in the last game.
    The diamond formation does that. It says you want to load the box okay then we will make it so you have to load the box. We want you to load the box.
    In our power run play we will meet you man for man and beat you in our zone blocking. Okay so we have maybe two decent recievers and a QB who is needs fewer reads — no problem. Force the opposing D into the box with the diamond and the power run threat and guess what you have single coverage and thus a passing attack again. As Kap gets gets more comfortable and the box stretches then a diamond back or two sneaks out into flat for those short passes and safety valve check downs.

    The diamond formation I believe best suits the current Niners is not the one that your son used in college or high school but the one your daddy may have played in. If I recall correctly back then it was the inverted wishbone or full house—full house because of it is a four pointed diamond. More recently this is the one that took the Packers to a super bowl and win against the Steelers.
    The most common diamond in college foot ball today is the pistol — a 3 point diamond. That is one of the pistol formations the Niners used successfully last year. The one I would like to see the Niners use this year is that four point diamond. The difference is the QB is under center thus he makes that fourth point of the diamond. The backs make up the other three.
    I would like to see a hybrid for this team where the diamond should be small enough so that Kapernick has just 3 maybe four steps between being in a 4 point and a 3 point diamond. This offers a step up into the pocket or a short drop back into the pistol. Furthermore he does not have to turn his back to the defense in the short drop back.
    This offers a choice between his comfort zone and the team comfort zone and surprise to the defense as too which. No more telegraphing run or a pass one of my pet peeves with Niners right now.
    He can wait for the defense to set the tone and then make a last minute drop back or step up change just before snap with backs and blockers in the loop. Or he can step up or drop back after snap in a QB option leaving all to surprise (except the center).
    The diamond formation allows Gore to be in his most comfortable set. Since he likes a quick step to the line it would most likely be as one of two split H backs. The other side to him would be the true full back. Here is where I pull a skill player off the bench and add a threat to the outsides to go with the Gore inside. This is different from what the Niners did last year where they would put at least one tight end in as one or both full back positions and Gore at tail. I would put LMJ or Hunter as tale back. Now the defense needs to spread wide while worrying about power Gore up the gut. Run team first with blocking and outside threat.
    The pistol 3 point diamond becomes interesting because LMJ is comfortable as pistol back and Gore oddly is in his comfort spot. This Niner diamond brings back the pistol while retaining the power run. Multiple backs in the diamond not only offer inside or outside running threats and extra blockers but also multiple option targets for short passing game. Fake the wide runner one way and Kap can run outside the pocket the other way with extra blockers or extra targets. Oh and by the way multifaceted run threat from inside and outside the tackles leaves the WRs in single coverage just in case Kap decides to throw.
    There are many other personnel combinations possible in the diamond and with skill set of this team. As an example, Davis can replace Miller or Gore for blocking and pass threat in long yardage situations.

    Instead of jumping from one formation and “trick play” to another and running the risk of confusing the players while often telegraphing intent, the diamond offers one set with many options and many surprises.
    I could go on and on about this but I will leave it there for the moment for others to weigh in.

      1. Thanks for bringing that to my attention Spaceborn, that past reference is very helpful as I am as you can see a late comer to this party bus.
        I took a quick read and I have to say it was a little confusing on several levels:
        1. As I recall the original full house / inverted wishbone had the QB in the pocket. So full house pistol is an error at least semantically.
        2. The pistol and the diamond are two separate formations that can be combined but don’t have to be. The pistol can be in a diamond or more commonly it can be in a one or two back set. The diamond formation can run from a shot gun, pistol or under center— any QB set.
        Really the guns create a three point diamond or triangle where as under center creates a four point diamond with QB making up the fourth point and a running threat.
        So it seems Grant was mixing apples with oranges on that past discussion — both technically and semantically.

      2. I should add that I am proposing a slight variation of the diamond. I am suggesting tightening up the diamond to the front line just enough to allow 3 maybe 4 steps between an under center and a pistol. Thus the QB can choose right up to the snap which he wants to play out of. Three steps decides whether to favor the power run or whether to favor Kaps current skill set. And doing this while leaving the defense guessing and unable to adjust accordingly. It gives Kap the last word without messing to much with the rest of the offense and without messing too much with his head.
        simplify, simplify, simplify — David T

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