We break down San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s aggressive pass to FB Kyle Juszczyk on a fullback wheel route against the Houston Texans.
When the San Francisco 49ers traded for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this season, many believed the Niners received a safe, game-manager-style quarterback in exchange for the teams’ 2018 second-round draft pick; Garoppolo had never thrown an interception at the NFL level, and was known for his quick release and accurate short passes during three years of backup service for the New England Patriots.
However, as Garoppolo has become more comfortable in the 49ers’ offense, he has become increasingly aggressive, and commonly throws contested passes to his receivers. Here, we’ll break down a pass by Garoppolo — contested by two Houston Texans defenders — thrown to his fullback, Kyle Juszczyk.
The 49ers have a 2nd-and-8 from their own 34-yard line. San Francisco is lined up with 21 personnel in a balanced I-Formation, with both receivers in “nasty” splits.
The Texans are in base personnel, with both corners playing off coverage. Houston is showing a single-high look, but could easily transition into two-safety coverage due to the depth of safety Andre Hal:
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan calls a play that works best against single-high coverages — particularly Cover-3. Shanahan hopes Garoppolo’s play-action fake will draw the linebackers toward the line of scrimmage, allowing Garoppolo to attack the vulnerable seams with his two wide receivers:
However, the Texans are actually playing Tampa-2, a Cover-2 variation with the middle linebacker dropping deeper into the secondary:
Garoppolo snaps the ball, and heads toward his running back Matt Breida, but Houston isn’t buying the fake. While the play-side linebacker fills the hole, the other two stacked linebackers drop back into coverage:
From the end-zone view, we can see that Breida is too far from Garoppolo to receive the handoff, and doesn’t do the best job of selling the run. Meanwhile, the 49ers leave Garrett Celek — Pro Football Focus‘ third worst pass-blocking tight end — alone against outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney — the Texans’ premier pass rusher. Instead of engaging, Clowney initially hesitates at the snap, which leaves Celek flat-footed:
Then, Clowney suddenly engages Celek, and gets his hands to the tight end’s chest. Clowney uses his strength to push Celek back and off of his feet, before the rusher uses his speed to get around the edge:
Garoppolo recognizes Houston is in Cover-2, as cornerback Kareem Jackson sits down in the zone, allowing wide receiver Marquise Goodwin to run by. However, middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney — not fooled by the play action — maintains coverage on Goodwin down the seam. Still, there is potential for the 49ers to attack the left side of the field, as Jackson is caught a bit off-balance in an attempt to cover Juszczyk, and Breida will soon be leaking out into the flat:
However, Celek’s failed block of Clowney forces Garoppolo into a quick decision. He won’t have time to let Breida’s pattern develop. Garoppolo will have to either throw the ball away, or attempt a pass to his fullback down the sideline:
With Clowney bearing down on him, Garoppolo chooses the latter. A perfect pass will still force Juszczyk to catch the ball over Jackson, and in front of free safety Marcus Gilchrist, who has keyed in on the pass attempt:
Garoppolo’s pass is placed perfectly over Jackson, who can’t make a play on the ball. Gilchrist goes for the interception, but Juszczyk outmuscles the safety on their way to the ground:
Juszczyk comes down with the ball, proving he can be an “offensive weapon” on the 29-yard completion:
We can file this passing play under “questionable decision, great execution, good outcome.” And for Garoppolo’s sake, next time, don’t leave Celek on an island against one of the NFL’s best pass rushers:
Jimmy Garoppolo’s aggressive decision-making hasn’t gotten him into trouble — yet. It will be interesting to see what an aggressive “Jimmy Franchise” can do after the San Francisco 49ers add more offensive playmakers next offseason.
PODCAST: The Brandon Aiyuk Episode
- Pick 25 in the 2020 draft, WR Brandon Aiyuk out of Arizona State
- Scouting report, strengths, weaknesses
- How Aiyuk went from community college corner to first round reciever
- Challenges for Aiyuk to reach his immense ceiling with the 49ers
49ers Surprise During Action-Packed 2020 NFL Draft, but at what Cost?
The San Francisco 49ers filled three immediate needs during the 2020 NFL Draft, but were first-round draft picks DT Javon Kinlaw and WR Brandon Aiyuk — and new starting LT Trent Williams — worth the cost?
This is the first in a three-part series analyzing the San Francisco 49ers’ 2020 “draft masterclass.” The Niners’ draft has been ranked by analysts as one of the NFL’s best, although it takes years before a draft class can be properly assessed. So instead of merely grading these college talents before their first NFL snaps, we’ll take a look at the 49ers’ picks — and more importantly — the 49ers’ process.
San Francisco’s general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were full of surprises during the 2020 NFL Draft, beginning in the first round. Every 2020 mock draft was immediately ripped to shreds as the vast majority of fans and analysts expected the Niners to trade away one of their prized first-round picks for additional draft capital. Instead, the 49ers traded both of their Day 1 picks but ended the evening with just two players, and no selections for the second day of the draft.
Lynch and Shanahan started their “draft tradefest” in a dream scenario: on the clock with the consensus top-2 wide receivers in the draft — Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb — on the board, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the phone. The Bucs wanted to move up a single spot to the No. 13 selection — the pick the receiver-needy 49ers obtained via their trade of star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner — which would leave at least one of the two top receiver prospects on the board for San Francisco.
The two teams executed the trade, which scored the Niners a fouth-rounder in exchange for one of the 49ers’ seventh-round picks. Minutes later, San Francisco was back on the clock, and both receivers were still on the board. But instead of taking advantage of the situation they lucked themselves into, the Lynch and Shanahan did what they seem to do every year — follow their collective gut or the opinion of a trusted contact outside the organization — and drafted Buckner’s hopeful replacement, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw:
49ers Draft Pick No. 14: DT Javon Kinlaw
On Tuesday, Lynch spoke about the decision on FOX Sports’ The Herd with Collin Cowherd:
“We were incredibly comfortable with Will Muschamp because he gave us such an accurate depiction of Deebo Samuel last year. I didn’t know Will. I met him once. But we called on Deebo and he hit all his strengths, but he also hit his, not really weaknesses, but just realities of who the person is. And he depicted Deebo so well, a year later I said, ‘Kyle, we’ve got to pick up the phone and call Will about Kinlaw because he was so darn honest.” -John Lynch
Despite Muschamp’s biased opinion of his former player, there’s a lot to like about the raw Kinlaw:
— Fourth and Nine (@fourth_nine) April 24, 2020
Standing at 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, he is shorter and stouter than his predecessor. And surprisingly, given his massive size, the DT has proven to be a better defender against the pass than the run. In 2019, Kinlaw received a 90.7 pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), despite logging just six sacks during the season, and 10 only sacks over his three-year college career:
Since there are no easy games in the NFL, the 49ers hope they drafted the overpowering and productive version of Kinlaw and not the version who disappeared when South Carolina faced weaker opponents.
Bonkers play by Kinlaw. Straight through the center’s chest, then runs the loop to chase down Tua for the sack. Rare combo of power, length and athleticism. pic.twitter.com/n2SjsehuPl
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) March 4, 2020
My initial assessment of the Kinlaw selection is I like the player, but I’m not a fan of the 49ers spending the draft pick they acquired in exchange for Buckner on a less-talented but cheaper version of the stud defensive lineman. San Francisco should have entered this year’s draft with one primary goal: improving their 2020 roster enough to win one more game than they did in 2019 — and “trading” Buckner for Kinlaw makes the Niners worse, albeit richer, in the short term.
Perhaps this pick would have been a bit sweeter if Lynch didn’t promptly waste the fourth-round selection he just obtained from Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, the 49ers’ fourth-year GM — in the role normally played by his partner-in-crime Shanahan — fell in love with a prospect and wasted valuable draft capital to unnecessarily trade up for the one player he desperately needed to draft.
We’ll break down the San Francisco 49ers’ second first-round selection — and how the Niners got there — next.
PODCAST: The Javon Kinlaw Episode
- Scouting report on the 14th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft
- Javon Kinlaw’s unique background story growing up between DC and South Carolina
- NFL transition and long term outlook with the 49ers