New Grantland Blog: The 49ers and the Quarterback Crack/Pull Sweep

My newest Grantland Blog is now up:

Indeed, as San Francisco 49ers legend Bill Walsh taught us, the best play callers do their play calling through preparation during the week, not so much on gameday as emotions soar. In other words, play calling is rarely the difference between a won and a loss.

But sometimes it is; sometimes a play call is so good — and takes such good advantage of a bad play call on the other side — that one can rightly say: That call might have won the game. So it was during the furious fourth quarter between the 49ers and the Saints last weekend. With two minutes and 11 seconds remaining, and the 49ers down 24-23, on third-and-7, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman made one of the best calls of the season: A crack/pull sweep with, not a running back, but quarterback Alex Smith as the blocker.

Read the whole thing.

  • Tsmith04

    Was this not designed to look like flanker drive? Is that an incorrect observation? Wouldn’t that have “flow” toward the middle, away from the actual direction of the run?

  • John Phamlore

    As a 49er fan, I’m going to argue that the Saints and Gregg Williams in this situation made the right defensive call gambling with a defense that could produce either a big loss or a big play going against them, because even in the worst case scenario, the ball was back in the hands of the Saints offense in a situation where normally the Saints would have the ball last.

    I would argue it was the Saints defense the next series that was inexplicable, and that Harbaugh made an incredibly gutsy call going for the touchdown with only 14 seconds late.  I’m not sure if he does that even earlier in the season, and I believe half of the coaches in today’s NFL would not have the guts to make that call.

    I think what this season has demonstrated, even more at the college level, is that pulling up the offense to try a field goal is not the optimal tactic late in a game.