The 49ers are running all over everyone. Through four games, San Francisco is averaging 200 yards on the ground per contest, the best in the NFL. They are coming off a 275-yard rushing performance vs. the Browns on Monday, where they averaged a whopping 6.9 yards per carry.
Kyle Shanahan, and his father Mike before him, have always been known for their ability to get the most out of the running game, regardless of who is carrying the ball. But how do they do it?
Senior Producer of NFL Films Greg Cosell joined Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks for his weekly hit on Wednesday, and broke down some of Shanahan’s secrets.
“They’re really multiple with how they get to base runs,” Cosell began. “From different formations, different backfield actions. They add in backfield actions whether it’s what we call ‘orbit motion’ where a receiver goes behind the quarterback, or ‘jet action’ where it’s in front of the quarterback. They’re very good with those kind of things, all designed to create a sense of hesitation, uncertainty in the defense.
“It’s all part of misdirection, deception. Think of the first play of the game. The first play was really a good example of that. Using the backfield motion by (Kyle) Juszczyk to move the second level of the defense and set up the needed angle blocks. I wasn’t even sure what that run was because it had the look of three different runs to me, so I wasn’t even sure how they categorized it.”
The play Cosell is referring to was an 83-yard scamper by Matt Breida, who went untouched on his way to the end zone. Juszczyk’s motion seems to indicate the play is going to the right side, but Breida counters by blasting through the left side of the offensive line.
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“Little things like that. Movement by Juszczyk, a motion, an action, just to get to what are essentially base runs that everybody runs. But they do those little things and it really creates blocking angles. Because that’s what you’re trying to do, you’re trying to create blocking angles to make things easier.
“They’re good at base concepts, what I call “pin/pull,” where they get to the parameter, and they’ll do that multiple ways, sometimes they’ll just pull the tackle. Sometimes it’s a G/C scheme where they pull the guard and the center. So it’s all base concepts that are theoretically in every playbook, it’s just how you choose to get to them that impacts the defense.”
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Cosell on the 49ers running game, start from 8:10.