Scouting the Bears
5:28 PM PST, November 15, 2012
The 49ers will lean on their Tank personnel (one wide receiver, two tight ends, two backs) to establish the run and set up their play-action passing game. Look for schemes that will target the Bears' eight-man defensive fronts Monday night and test the eye discipline of the secondary.
Using the All-22 coaches tape, here is an example of how 49ers quarterback Alex Smith picked up an explosive gain earlier in the season against the Jets' Cover-3 defense.
The 49ers are running the Sail route. A three-level concept designed to beat zone coverage and attack the strong safety in his curl-to-flat drop. Wide receiver Randy Moss will clear out the corner on a 9 (fade) route with tight end Delanie Walker on the deep 7 cut (corner route) and running back Frank Gore in the flat. With the Jets strong safety taking the bait on the play action and stepping to the line of scrimmage, Smith can target Walker down the field.
In Cover-3, the strong safety is taught to gain depth in his drop, cushion the deep 7 route and force the quarterback to throw the ball to the flat. However, because the Jets safety sticks his eyes in the backfield at the snap, he has to recover and attempt to hold off Walker. And with Moss occupying both the corner and the free safety on the deep 9 route, Walker can stem his route to the sideline.
On the finish, Walker can sit down in the hole between the strong safety and corner to pick up positive yardage. Expect the Bears to show their eight-man fronts (Cover-1, Cover-3) Monday night and run/pass keys will be crucial to limiting the 49ers' play-action schemes.
Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.
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