Is Trent Williams tipping plays?
Following the 49ers loss to Chicago in the season opener, Bears rookie defensive end Dominique Robinson said noticed Williams tended to kick his left leg for a pass play.
Jessie Naylor of Last Second Sports, a YouTube channel which focuses on the 49ers and Lions, noted on Monday that Williams stance still seemed to be different depending on if the play was a run or a pass.
Trent Williams is still tipping plays. I just ran through the all 22 and accurately predicted nearly every play run or pass based on his left foot placement pre snap.— Jessie🎙 (@JNay_LSS) November 15, 2022
Pic 1 is a run
Pic 2 is a pass pic.twitter.com/Zffq7YmqZR
Having a tell could lead to negative consequences.
This happens often in baseball where batters spend hours looking at pitchers to gain any advantage possible.
One historic example of this involves former San Francisco Giant great Will Clark during the 1989 NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.
According to Clark, he noticed Greg Maddux telling his catcher what the next pitch would be during a meeting at the mound. Knowing what was coming, Clark blasted a grand slam. From that point on pitchers began to cover their mouth with their glove.
By the numbers, Trent Williams varied stances are not having a negative impact on the 49ers offense.
In 2019, the 49ers offense averaged six yards per play, 33.1 yards per possession and a sack on 6.94% of their pass attempts.
Since the start of 2021, the 49ers offense has averaged 6 yards per play, while averaging 34.7 yards per possession in 2021 and 34.1 yards per possession so far this season. In addition, the 49ers pass protection has been better. In 2021 they allowed a sack on 5.92% of their pass attempts and have allowed a sack on 6.06% of their pass attempts so far this season.
Taking this discussion further, while the pictures show a different stance for run plays and pass plays, there is yet to be any evidence that Trent Williams is tipping plays.
Let’s say the Cardinals defense on Monday night is keying in on the left leg of Trent Williams, and in doing so identify that a run is about to come. Kyle Shanahan has a wide variety of running plays to choose from which keeps the advantage on the side of the offense.
Having a tell that a specific play was coming would be a much more difficult to overcome.
It is the same thing with the passing game.
Another reason the stance doesn’t impact the offense, is a portion of Kyle Shanahan plays are run-pass options, otherwise known as RPO’s.
On an RPO, the play will be either a run or pass depending on the defense. As a result, offensive linemen are run blocking regardless of what the quarterback decides to do with the ball. San Francisco called a number of these during win over the Chargers on Sunday night. If Trent Williams was tipping plays, it would play to San Francisco’s advantage in these instances.
The 49ers inability to score points on offense has nothing to do with the stance of the left tackle.
This is an offense which has dropped 20 passes through the first nine games compared to 26 last season and 28 in 2019.
For the third season in a row the 49ers have turned the ball over more than their opponents. This, along with poor special teams play means the average starting offensive field position is their own 28. Tough sledding for an offense which finds ways to shoot itself in the foot on a consistent basis.