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49ers Film Room: Nick Bosa and Dee Ford in Double Wide-9 Alignments

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49ers Double Wide-9 Alignment Nick Bosa, Dee Ford
© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In this series of 49ers Film Room, we break down the “Wide Nine” technique and its effect on the San Francisco 49ers’ 2019 defense. In Part 3, we review how Nick Bosa and Dee Ford will attack the quarterback — with the assistance of DeForest Buckner — from “Double Wide-9” defensive alignments.

This is the third installment in our latest 49ers Film Room series analyzing the wide-9 technique the San Francisco 49ers will implement during the 2019 NFL season. You can check out the first two articles here on Lockedon49ers.com:

1. 49ers Film Room: The Wide-9 in San Francisco’s 2019 Defense
2. 49ers Film Room: DeForest Buckner to Benefit from Double Wide-9

In our second segment, we broke down how defensive tackle DeForest Buckner is able to dominate as an interior pass rusher when the San Francisco 49ers utilize two “Wide-9” or “Ghost Nine” defensive ends on obvious passing downs. Today, we’ll demonstrate how Buckner’s presence will help the 49ers’ new premier edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford attack opposing quarterbacks during the 2019 season.

Per Pro Football Focus, Bosa was the top edge defender in the 2019 NFL Draft and Ford was the highest-graded pass-rusher in the NFL last season. With both players slated to rush from the outside on passing downs, San Francisco should be able to get after the quarterback in 2019. But even with journeyman edge defenders last season, the 49ers found success — thanks to Buckner wreaking havoc from the inside.

49ers’ Double Wide-9 When Offenses Focus on Buckner

In order to protect against inside running plays on probable passing downs, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has used wide-9 or ghost-9 technique defensive ends on the outside paired with a modified 3-tech defensive tackle and a larger DT or nose tackle on the inside. As we discussed previously, the job of DT Sheldon Day is to occupy the opposing center and right guard to allow San Francisco’s three remaining pass rushers to attack the quarterback. Here, Buckner lines up wider than a traditional 3-technique DT — in what we’ll call a “Wide-3 Technique” since it’s not a true 4i-tech — with his body angled toward Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr:

San Francisco 49ers Wide-9 2019 defense

By lining up far to the outside, EDGE Cassius Marsh is able to quickly get upfield and engage Raiders offensive lineman Ian Silberman, who is isolated, off-balance and ill-prepared for contact. On the left side of the formation, running back Doug Martin purposefully sidesteps defensive end Ronald Blair in order to make contact with Buckner. Meanwhile, left tackle Kolton Miller is so concerned with Buckner — lined up directly in front of him — that his first move is toward the DT, which allows Blair to bull rush him back into the middle of the pocket, forcing Carr to the ground for the sack:

49ers’ Double Wide-9 With Buckner as a Decoy

Knowing the Raiders are focusing on stopping Buckner, Saleh calls another variation of his standard “Double Wide-9” pass rush on the following play. Here, EDGE Dekoda Watson lines up wide next to Buckner, with Blair — as opposed to a larger DT — in a 4-tech inside Marsh.

49ers Ghost Wide-9 Stunt Sack

On this play, Buckner takes the inside route toward the center, who is expecting a pass rush from his right side. Instead, Blair fires down the line toward Miller, which surprises guard Gabe Jackson, who attempts to force the defender farther outside. With Blair occupying both linemen, Marsh is able to avoid Martin and cut back inside toward Carr. Jackson’s recovery is too late to stop the pass rusher as Marsh and Watson meet at the quarterback for the combined sack:

If “Double Wide-9” or “Double Ghost Nine” defensive fronts can be this effective with EDGEs like Marsh and Watson, the 49ers’ new elite pass rushers Bosa and Ford should make these alignments lethal against opposing passing offenses in 2019. Unfortunately, like any defensive scheme or alignment, 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek‘s favored front is far from perfect — particularly against the run. In our next segment, we’ll discuss the downsides of the Wide-9, and break down why the 49ers are unlikely to use the Double Wide-9 alignment as their base defensive front this season.

Chris Wilson is the Lead Writer for Locked on 49ers - part of the Locked On Podcast Network. You may have seen Chris Wilson’s work on NFL game theory, statistical analysis and film breakdowns at FanSided, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, ClutchPoints, Insidethe49 and others. Follow Chris Wilson on Twitter @cgawilson.

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San Francisco 49ers

PODCAST: Weekly Wink, Trade Rumors

Brian Peacock

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  • Guest: Nick Winkler
  • Jalen Ramsey trade rumors intensify
  • Is it worth spending on offensive tackle Trent Williams?
  • Could young star safety Jamal Adams hit the trade market?
  • 49ers primed for a 3-0 start

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San Francisco 49ers

PODCAST: 49ers-Steelers Crossover

Brian Peacock

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© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Guests: Tony Serino and Christopher Carter of Locked On Steelers
  • What to expect from second-year QB Mason Rudolph, who is starting in place of injured Ben Roethlisberger
  • How new Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick fits in
  • Predictions

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San Francisco 49ers

49ers vs. Bengals: San Francisco Week 2 Game Balls & Highlights

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49ers Bengals Week 2 Game Balls Highlights
© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Game balls and highlights from the San Francisco 49ers’ 41-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2 of the 2019 NFL regular season.

On yesterday’s Locked On 49ers Podcast, host Brian Peacock provided a rundown of the Niners’ game — including game notes and key takeaways — and handed out four game balls to the San Francisco 49ers from their Week 2 blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 49ers made a statement to the rest of the league during their second consecutive road victory to start the 2019 NFL regular season. Outside of a long garbage-time touchdown given up in the final minute of the matchup, the 49ers’ defense was dominant, finishing the game with four sacks, nine tackles-for-loss and one interception.

But despite holding the Bengals to just 25 yards on 19 rushing attempts, San Francisco’s offensive unit shined the brightest in Week 2 — which brings us to our first game ball:

49ers HC Kyle Shanahan

San Francisco’s offensive attack was nearly unstoppable in Week 2, and much of their success should be credited to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who called one of his best games since arriving in the Bay Area over two seasons ago. The Niners tallied 572 net yards on offense at an 8.4 yards-per-play clip, and were forced to punt the ball just once during meaningful play, prior to the final two minutes of the game.

Shanahan — the 49ers’ de facto offensive coordinator — was always one step ahead of the Bengals’ defense, which was constantly confused by the Niners’ flurry of misdirection plays. With Cincinnati’s defenders forced to play both passively and reactionary, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took advantage by throwing for 297 passing yards and three scores. Garoppolo executed on the field, but he had Shanahan’s superb game plan to thank for his FexEx Air Passer of the Week nomination, as well as his 131.2 passer rating and his 11.9 yards-per-pass-attempt — both of which were tops in the NFL in Week 2.

 

49ers RB Matt Breida

Prior to the beginning of the regular season, many analysts wrote 49ers running back Matt Breida off as either a potential change-of-pace option in San Francisco’s backfield or a player who would simply ride the bench in 2019. But just two games into the season, Breida has officially put that talk to rest by claiming his well-deserved spot at the top of the 49ers’ running back depth chart, even after fellow RB Tevin Coleman eventually returns from injury.

Breida was electric on Sunday as he tallied 121 rushing yards on only 12 carries, and added 11 yards through the air on one reception. The former undrafted free agent may never be a 25-carry feature back, but it’s hard to ignore a runner who averages over 10 yards-per-touch. Breida’s outstanding Week 2 performance was  highlighted by a 34-yard gain on a third-and-short run, where he looked a lot more like Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders than a bench player who should be relegated to the sidelines:

 

49ers Offensive Line

Although Breida has the speed and agility necessary to break off long runs after making defenders miss, he surely didn’t mind running through some of the gaping holes the 49ers’ offensive line provided on Sunday. Breida wasn’t the only beneficiary of San Francisco’s big men up front, as the 49ers’ trio of running backs graded out as the NFL’s top unit of the week by Pro Football Focus (PFF). Recent practice-squad RB Jeff Wilson found the end zone for a pair of scores in the contest, and dual-threat running back Raheem Mostert followed his blockers on long runs and screen passes en route to a spot on PFF’s “NFL Team of the Week” for Week 2:

It was a near-perfect day for the Niners’ offensive line, as they also kept Garoppolo’s jersey clean for the vast majority of the game. But a dark cloud fell over the group in the third quarter of the team’s Week 2 victory, when left tackle Joe Staley sustained a fractured left fibula which will keep the 49ers’ top lineman out of action for approximately six to eight weeks.

 

49ers LB Kwon Alexander

Last week, linebacker Kwon Alexander received a game ball from Shanahan in the 49ers’ locker room after the team’s 31-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite his early exit from his Niners debut. Alexander was ejected from the contest when his helmet made contact with the helmet of former teammate Jameis Winston, when the quarterback awkwardly went to the ground at the end of a third-down scramble. In the limited time prior to his questionable ejection, Alexander looked like the player Shanahan and general manager John Lynch hoped to sign, as the 25-year-old linebacker flew around the field making plays and hyping up his teammates.

Last Sunday, Alexander earned his 49ers game ball for his leadership in the locker room and his passion for the game. This Sunday, Alexander earned Locked On 49ers game ball for his leadership in the locker room, his passion for the game and his production on the field. Alexander not only brought the same level of intensity to Cincinnati, but the linebacker was also one of the best — and most productive — players on the field in Week 2. With a key interception, three defended passes and six tackles, Alexander earned PFF “NFL Team of the Week” honors, and our final game ball of the week:

 

Listen to Locked On 49ers host Brian Peacock’s review of the San Francisco 49ers’ Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals — including game notes and key takeaways from the Niners’ second matchup of the 2019 NFL regular season — on yesterday’s Rapid React podcast:

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