No. 7: 49ers defense created plenty of pressure when only rushing four
This allowed Robert Saleh to drop seven defenders into zone coverage and play with “zone eyes.”
Playing zone coverage is one of the reasons the 49ers had 11 interceptions last season. Playing zone coverage allows the defenders in coverage to keep their eyes on the quarterback to see where the quarterback is looking.
That is how Fred Warner caught his interception in the Super Bowl.
The 49ers defense was in Cover 4, where the safeties and cornerbacks each take a deep quarter, and the two linebackers along with the nickel cornerback, in this case, playing the middle hook zone and the two flats zones underneath.
Warner was playing the middle hook zone.
The Kansas City Chiefs kept seven players in to block the four defensive linemen the Niners were rushing. This meant the Chiefs had three receivers running routes against seven San Francisco defenders in coverage.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill, in the slot, ran a triple move, first making it look like a corner-post, then Hill broke the route off. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was looking for Hill, but Mahomes didn’t see Warner underneath Hill.
Warner kept getting depth with Hill and then used zone eyes to stare down Mahomes. Using zone eyes allowed Warner to settle directly between Mahomes and Hill, therefore allowing himself an opportunity to make an easy interception in the biggest game of his life… so far.