How the 49ers got the Packers in checkmate

Some things I forgot to mention about the 49ers’ performance against the Packers: Alex Smith and Greg Roman called brilliant running plays.

What Smith did: Each time the Packers brought an extra linebacker or a cornerback to the line of scrimmage, Alex Smith audibled to a running play away from the blitz. These audibles worked beautifully. Peyton Manning couldn’t have made better pre-snap adjustments. Smith’s were near perfect.

Before the season, Roman and Jim Harbaugh called Smith an expert in the offense. The audibles he called against the Packers were a prime indication of what they were talking about.

What Roman did: He brought extra offensive linemen onto the field to force the Packers’ defense to load up the middle, get them to play “in a phone booth” as it were, and then Roman called runs to the outside. This worked every time, and the Packers never adjusted to it, never seemed to know what the 49ers were doing. Roman called this play in the fourth quarter right after NaVorro Bowman intercepted Aaron Rodgers. Frank Gore bounced the run around the right side for a 23-yard touchdown. Gore is not a great outside runner at his age, but it didn’t matter because the Packers just could not stop that play. Kudos to Roman for coming back to it again and again.

Roman also figured out a brilliant way to run up the middle. He spread out the Packers defense by lining up extra wide receivers instead of extra offensive linemen, and then called runs right up the gut. These also worked. Again the Packers didn’t have a clue.

Roman recognized the Packers were expecting inside runs when the Niners had heavy personnel, and outside runs when the Niners were spread out. Roman used those expectations  against them and as a result, he completely outcoached the Packers’ defensive coordinator, Dom Capers.

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