‘Back To The Future’
September 29 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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To beat the Redskins in week three, the 49ers took a page out of their recent past. I’m not talking about going back to the ‘Golden Age’ by any means, but rather the team turned to a strategy that has been common place under the guidance of head coach Steve Mariucci. Mainly, the team used more three receiver formations, thus spreading the field, so that they could run more.
The strategy has become very well established with the 49ers, that began using it once Terrell Owens and JJ Stokes both looked to be forces opposite JJ Stokes. While the personnel has changed, the theory remains the same. It’s much harder to stop the run with one fewer guy in the box, it’s harder to defend the pass because of an extra target, and should the defense try and sneak an extra man in to stop the run, a quick audible to the ‘hot’ receiver could result in a big gain.
In flipping back to the three receiver formation, and using a bigger dose of Garrison Hearst the 49ers were able to formulate a plan that defeated the Redskins. It was particularly useful in the two minute drill at the end of the first half, and at the end of the game as the team tried to kill the clock.
It’s reasonable to assume that the 49ers will go to a similar plan to beat the Rams. The Rams have a very fast defense, and by spreading the field the 49ers may be able to open some things up that they couldn’t normally see in their base offense. It should also be interesting to see if they motion Eric Johnson from the tight end spot into the slot receiving spot to try and create a few mix matches with the base personnel on the field.