SF 49ers offensive analysis: Run game was effective but lacked execution
Yes, the SF 49ers started out strong against the Cardinals, especially on the ground. And then after the blocked punt, it looked like San Francisco couldn’t get into a rhythm, at all.
Head coach and offensive genius Kyle Shanahan stated in the offseason he did some self-scouting, and this definitely would have included the Cardinals as the Niners struggled to run the ball in both games in 2019. San Francisco only ran for 135 combined in both games last year, with 101 yards in the Week 9 bout and only 34 yards in the Week 11 contest.
Shanahan adjusted. And you can get the idea in the run-game film review here.
The Cardinals used an outside linebacker on both sides of the offensive line to maintain the edge. This meant the 49ers struggled when running outside zone runs, however, when they ran gap schemes and the when the offensive line started moving to the right, then fullback Kyle Juszczyk or tight end George Kittle came back across the formation to the left to block the outside linebacker maintaining the edge for the cutback run.
These wind-back/cut-back runs nearly allowed running back Raheem Mostert to break free for a big gain, possibly even a touchdown.
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Mostert was only stopped by a last-ditch tackle.
These designed cut-back and gap scheme runs also opened up the inside and mid-zone runs, as it slowed down the fast-flowing Cardinals linebackers, therefore giving the O-line more time to get to the second level. Not only did it give the O-line more time, but it also gave them better angles to make those blocks.
Gap-scheme runs also worked, with both guards Laken Tomlinson and Daniel Brunskill, pulling across the formation to lead block for the running back.
Those power and counter runs were successful, however, one run showcased why the 49ers offensive players and Kyle Shanahan said after the game that the offense needed to execute better.
On more than a few occasions full-back Kyle Juszczyk ran into and collided with one of the offensive linemen, especially when the guards, Tomlinson and Brunskill, pulled on a gap scheme run.
This led to Juszczyk not getting to assignments on time and not being able to block effectively.
The 4th-and-1 on the Cardinals 1-yard line was the perfect play call; what else would you expect from Shanahan? The only reason that play didn’t result in Mostert floating into the end zone was rookie tight -end Charlie Woerner unfortunately lost his footing at the vital moment.
Although that slip was anything but a mistake, it outlined why the offensive players repeated that execution cost San Francisco.
This lack of execution is what cost the SF 49ers offense some bigger gains, as well as points, in the run game, and stopped the offense from finding any sort of rhythm. Shanahan figured out what the Niners needed to do to run effectively against the Cardinals.
Look for the 49ers to run all over the Cardinals in the Week 16 rematch.