We break down San Francisco 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan’s speed out and drive concepts, as executed by QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the Niners’ Week 14 victory over the Houston Texans.
With two full weeks of practice as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback under his belt, Jimmy Garoppolo was given a more expanded playbook for the Niners’ Week 14 matchup with the Houston Texans.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan — known for his potent offenses — is progressively showing more trust in his new quarterback, as Garoppolo continues to make the right decisions. Let’s take a look at a play where an inexperienced quarterback is likely to make a mistake, but Garoppolo instead continues through his progressions until he finds an open receiver, who he hits for a first down.
The 49ers have a 1st-and-10 from their own 39-yard line. Shanahan has 21 personnel in a balanced formation, but lines up tight end Garrett Celek and fullback Kyle Juszczyk near the boundaries, and wide receivers Louis Murphy and Marquise Goodwin tight to the formation. Prior to the snap, Garoppolo motions running back Carlos Hyde to the line, near Goodwin.
With the 49ers in 21 personnel, the Texans have their base defense in the game. Houston leaves their corners near the boundaries, across from the 49ers’ less dangerous receiving threats. The Texans look to be in two-deep zone coverage, but could also be disguising a heavy blitz:
The 49ers are running a speed out concept to the boundary (short) side, and a drive concept to the field (wide) side of the field:
The Texans are playing Cover-6 — Cover-2 to the boundary side, and Cover-4 to the field side — but with a wrinkle; Houston has an extra underneath defender on the play, which may be a strategic decision, or may be a product of confusion resulting from the 49ers’ last-second motion:
Prior to the snap, the Texans’ front seven are in disarray. Hyde’s motion forces middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney to pull Houston’s most dangerous pass rusher — outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney — off the line, and shift two of the Texans’ three down linemen. When Garoppolo takes the snap, four Houston defenders are caught with their eyes away from the ball:
Garoppolo immediately looks to his right, at Murphy’s speed out against linebacker Brian Cushing. If the Texans were in man defense or Cover-4, a quick pass to Murphy in this mismatch is Garoppolo’s first read. However, Garoppolo quickly sees that the boundary corner is responsible for the flat, and is looking to jump the route. Celek is able to get outside the cornerback — and would be a potential passing target against a traditional Cover-2 — but free safety Andre Hal has rotated over to the numbers in anticipation of a deep throw. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the field, Hyde cuts under Clowney untouched on the drive route, and linebacker Zach Cunningham whiffs on Goodwin in an attempt to redirect the receiver:
As Garoppolo takes his left hand of the ball, lineman Carlos Watkins jumps in an attempt to deflect a quick pass:
Before Watkins even hits the ground, Garoppolo already has Goodwin’s dig route in his sights:
Hyde’s drive route opens a passing lane for Garoppolo between McKinney and Clowney. With strong safety Marcus Gilchrist retreating in anticipation of a deep route from the speedy Goodwin, he won’t have time to break on the intermediate pass:
Garoppolo throws the pass to Goodwin, who sits down in the hole in the Texans’ zone:
Goodwin catches the ball, and after protecting himself from the oncoming safety, the 49ers have a fresh set of downs:
On this play, Garoppolo does a number of things that Shanahan requires from his quarterback: Garoppolo doesn’t fall for the defense’s bait, he quickly goes through his progressions, and then he finds and hits his open receiver:
Also of note, Goodwin is perhaps the 49ers’ most improved player this season. Goodwin came to the 49ers with two routes in his route tree, and almost exclusively lined up in plus splits near the safety of the sideline. Shanahan — a former college wide receiver — must be proud of his free agent acquisition, who continues to develop into a complete receiver.
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