I decided to go back and watch not only the Giants game but also the Bills games. I wanted to see if anything changed scheme wise and if the Giants found some aspects to exploit while watching the Bills game.
Niners On Defense
-They give a lot of different looks with their front 4. Smith will line up anywhere from NT to 5 tech. Their standup rushers a lot of the time are lined up almost in a wide 9, but they like to move them around. When in passing situations, they like to try and get J Smith in one on one situations and stack the strong side with A Smith and Ahmad Brooks. Vic is very smart and creative with his pressures. Willis and Bowman can both get after the QB so I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of A gap pressure this week considering how successful Arizona was with it.
- They run quite a bit of single high safety, with Goldson coming in to help run support. He is a lot like Chancellor in our scheme. A lot of the time he doesn't come up until the ball is almost snapped. Play action/taking shots downfield early may force him to have to stay back, hopefully opening up the run game a little bit.
-Corners on the outside play a lot of man, they really trust their pass rush to get to the QB. Receivers are going to have to win in those situations. The comeback/hitch game may play a big part on the outside. That will also open it up for a double move later.
- This might perhaps be the biggest pickup I found from their defense. It is no secret how good their linebackers are. I may even go out on a limb and say Bowman is better in run support than Willis is, and Willis is top 5 in the league at that. I noticed that they ALWAYS have one of those two keyed in on the RB. If the RB is lined up right, whoever is on that side reads him the whole way. If he goes out in a route, they play man on him. If he stays in pass coverage, they drop into a zone. In the run game this helps them tremendously because they don't have to worry about reading line-play or the fullback, they just eye the RB. However, this does create opportunities for our offense if they picked up on this. They need to get deceptive in their running game. Getting their linebackers going one way and coming back the other on counters/cutbacks and trapping their LB's. (Sidenote, Justin Smith needs to be keyed on every run, even runs away from him because he is so relentless. He can ruin a run opposite of him if backside blocking is lazy). Also, when lined up in shotgun clearing the RB to the sideline will completely eliminate the LB covering him and when I saw this happen the middle of the field was open for a crossing route. Bevell is going to need to get creative this Thursday. And I don't just mean the playcall itself, I mean the formation bunches he comes out in.
This defense is VERY good. They play disciplined and fast. They are nasty and quite honestly a lot like our defense here in Seattle. But, there are going to be opportunities. Eli took advantage of the one on one matchups on the outside and their receivers did a good job beating press.
Niners on Offense
- You will/have heard Pete and Gus talk about the numerous amounts of personnel groupings that SF likes to use, this is a big part of their game. They will lineup in a jumbo formation one play with 2 TE a FB and come out the very next play in empty with 5 wide. The thing about Harbaugh (as much as this hurts to say because I cannot stand the guy) he is a genius playcaller. He will run out of passing formations and pass out of running formations. He is very unpredictable and just does a very good job keeping the defense off balanced.
- They really like to get sneaky with Vernon Davis. The 3rd play of the Buffalo Game they lined up in a jumbo formation strong left with 2 TE's left next to the tackle. Thay ran play action and hid Vernon behind the one TE and the tackle. He then snuck out of no where to make a big catch over the middle. They love to run play action when they are in double TE sets, chipping Vernon and trying to lull LB to sleep. He needs to have a guy on him at all times because Harbaugh will get creative in getting him open. When they split him out wide and Smith sees a LB on him, more times than not he is going to give Vernon a shot to make a play. I personally don't like that matchup and it is one I am most worried about with their offense.
- This is the biggest key I picked up from them offensively in my opinion. They are VERY deceptive in their running game. This isn't the vanilla/typical run game that we saw last week against the Pats. They will flood their entire line one way with lots of guys pulling that way and have one blocker the other way and end up going that way. Harbaugh seems to like to get the defense to go one way and hit them the other way. They love to pull their line one way and hit the opposite two hole up the middle. There are a lot of designed cutbacks. Our defense cannot key on Gores initial movements because that is what they want, they will run a lot of misdirection/counter step stuff. If our defense plays sound gap control they will be fine, but their running game is designed for big plays so they need to be at their best.
I feel that we do match up very well with them for what they want to do offensively. We cannot let Vernon Davis run wild though. He will be the key to them moving the ball offensively. Another underrated aspect of their offense is Alex Smith's scrambling ability. We saw it first hand last year and they can't let him pick up key 3rd downs with his feet. This is going to be a smashmouth game and a fun one to watch. Expect another nail biter, last minute drive, cardiac arrest game because that in theory is how this game should go.