Part one in a season-long series examining specific offensive and defensive concepts the 49ers will employ. This particular Yankee concept play comes from Week 3 in the preseason.
In preseason Week 3, the San Francisco 49ers faced the Minnesota Vikings on the road. In the first offensive series for the 49ers, they capped a five-play 79-yard drive with a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Hoyer to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.
Hoyer faked the zone play action before turning around and throwing a 46-yard dime to Goodwin in stride in the end zone. Goodwin had a good five yards of separation on the Minnesota corner.
The play was simple, yet effective, and it’s one head coach Kyle Shanahan relied on with the Atlanta Falcons last season for it’s big play potential, known as the “Yankee” concept.
The “Yankee” concept route combination is a common concept used by teams with speedy wide receivers. Last season, the Falcons employed this route combination with Julio Jones and had success running him deep on several routes, not least among which was this route concept.
The “Yankee” concept is a two-wide receiver deep-crossing combo, with the underneath receiver running a deep over-the-middle route, and the other executing a deep post over the top.
In the play below, then-Falcons’ offensive coordinator Shanahan employed this particular play out of a wing formation, utilizing a split-zone sift block to sell the run:
The play itself is most often run on play action and with max protection, due to the length of time needed for the routes to develop, and is generally run against Cover 1 or Cover 3 defenses.
The 49ers come out in 21 personnel (two running backs, one tight end, two receivers) at 1st-and-10 from the Minnesota 46-yard line.
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon is split out right off the line of scrimmage with Goodwin as the receiver split wide left. Vance McDonald is the inline tight end to the right of the formation, with Carlos Hyde as the running back and Kyle Juszczyk as the fullback.
It’s tough to tell on the TV broadcast what kind of defense the Vikings are in. But piecing it together from two different angles, it looks like it could be a disguised Cover 3 “buzz:”
The Vikings, under head coach Mike Zimmer, employ similar Cover 3 concepts to the 49ers, and they will disguise a lot of Cover 3/Cover 1 coverages in a Cover 2 shell.
At the snap, the middle of the defense follows the play action and the flow of the offensive line.
The linebackers are drawn in by the zone-run fake and the sift block by the wing. The orbit motion (end around) draws another defender across the field:
Safety Harrison Smith jumps up from his two-deep position to play the deep dig route by McDonald.
As this play develops, the Vikings defensive back covering Goodwin gets caught with his eyes in the backfield as Goodwin runs by him.
As Smith funnels into his coverage responsibility, and the corner gets caught looking, Goodwin streaks down field on a skinny post and creates five yards of separation, while the opposite safety struggles to get there.
The play goes for 46 yards and a touchdown, and provides a glimpse into how Shanahan can attack varying coverages with these concepts.
Look for more in this series as the season goes on.