Film Breakdown: How the San Francisco 49ers Scheme Helps Them Overwhelm Opponents

Britain 49ers Jaguars FootballGranted, the San Francisco 49ers were taking on a hapless Jacksonville Jaguars team in London this past week. That 42-10 blowout win isn’t indicative of the talent that the 49ers will go up against following their Week 9 bye.

With that said, it’s still possible to check in on San Francisco’s offensive scheme and execution in its fifth consecutive victory. This article will focus on a couple different plays from the 49ers win over the Jaguars on Sunday.

Warning: My artistic ability starts and ends with writing.


Two-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick to Vernon Davis (first quarter, vs. Jacksonville) 


As you can see, San Francisco went with a bunch formation on this goal-to-go attempt. There were zero wide receivers and an extra offensive linemen on the field with a two-back set and back-up center Daniel Kilgore pulling to the right in motion pre snap. You cannot see it in this frame, but Jacksonville is selling out against either power run out of the “I” or a read option from Kaepernick.


As Kaepernick rolls to his left, Jacksonville’s group of linebackers have their eyes set on him running the ball to the left side. A group of eight 49ers’ blockers are engaging with defenders between the hashes in order to create room for the scrambling quarterback. This seemed to indicate that Kaepernick was going to take it himself.


As you can see in the frame above, not one single Jaguars’ defender is in the end zone as Vernon Davis sprints for the left sideline. A total of nine players from the Jaguars are completely taken out of the play before Kaepernick attempts the pass. Before Gus Bradley’s improved unit comes to the realization what is going to happen on the play, it was way too late.


By the time Davis hauls in the two-yard touchdown pass, there is not one single defender within seven yards of him. This was by design, and is something that a lot of offenses attempt on a consistent basis. A couple things made it work. San Francisco’s personnel was able to sell a run play, either with Gore in the Power I or Kaepernick in the read option. It’s blockers also did a great job engaging at the point of contact and keeping the defenders out of the play.



Frank Gore 21-yard Touchdown Run


As you can see in this frame, Gore has two different holes to run through. After an initial hesitation to set his eyes on the field, the Pro Bowl running back decides to turn it inside where there seemed to be lesser room at the line of scrimmage. Tackle Joe Staley and guard Mike Iupati get to the second level with their blocks, which Gore obviously recognizes as he makes the decision to turn it inside.


The interior of San Francisco’s line opens up a massive hole in between the line of scrimmage and the secondary in this frame. This enables Gore to shoot threw a massive opening and spring towards the end zone, where even another level of blockers are prepared to take on Jaguars’ defenders.


Like clockwork, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis are prepared to spring Gore for the final few yards he needs to reach the end zone. The final hole was opened up by Boldin, who may or may not have blocked Josh Evans in the back.

Again, scheme+execution=success.

One of the major reasons Jim Harbaugh is 30-9-1 during the regular season in his two-plus seasons as the 49ers’ head coach is because his staff simply schemes better than opposing teams. Where San Francisco might struggle with playcalling on offense at times, it more than makes up with it by utilizing its personnel in nearly the best possible way. These two plays, while minor in the grand scheme of things, are prime examples of just how well prepared San Francisco’s staff is come Sunday’s.


Note: I will focus on the first-place team in the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks.


Vincent is the head sports editor at eDraft, co-host of eDraft Sports Radio (which airs every Tuesday and Thursday from 3-6 p.m. ET) and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus. He’s also the news director at PFC and co-host of Football Debate Central with Ryan Riddle every Tuesday on both PFC and 91.2 FM WVUD in Delaware and New Jersey. He’s also a former league-wide featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a contributor at Yahoo!

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