New Grantland: How the Ravens Will Try to Contain Colin Kaepernick and the Diversity of the 49ers’ Offense

It’s now up over at Grantland:

Making whichever choice this unblocked defender makes the wrong one is read option 101. It’s an idea that’s been around for more than a decade. When fully realized, San Francisco’s read option goes far beyond those basics, to places college teams haven’t even been. “We’ve gone down our own road and we do what we do, not just traditional things other teams have done,” remarked Roman this week. “We’ve taken it and are going down our own path.”

Most significantly, on many of the 49ers’ read plays, it’s not just the quarterback who is reading the defender. A lead blocker is often doing the same.


Fullback Bruce Miller isn’t given every option on every play, but generally, there are three possibilities as the lead blocker on these plays: (1) If the end crashes down for the running back, Miller’s job is to feign blocking him and arc around to seal any linebacker scraping for the quarterback; (2) if the end stays home but slides inside, Miller can block him, opening a crease for Gore to slip through; or (3) if the end goes for the quarterback, then Miller slips inside of him and blocks the nearest linebacker.

Read the whole thing. Also, as a bonus, I had originally intended to describe the 49ers’ use of the Inverted Veer in the NFC Championship game but didn’t end up having a chance. Below the jump are some bonus diagrams.





  • mike Jordan

    Can someone explain to me the last picture on Grantland article where Chis explains the “old” way of defending option by putting 8 defender in the box with a single high safety. The defense still doesn’t have enough. 8 defenders vs. 9 offenders. Block the 7 option the 8th and room to run. Does Chris mean a Invert Cover 2 look and the Free Safety is actually a box player and its just not shown? I hate hearing on Tv to just put 8 in the box to stop read/option plays when it more to it than that from a numerical standpoint.

    Can someone help me understand what Chris meant in this section of the Grantland article.

  • Are we sure the FB reads the block? Seems to me I’d rather, as a coach, have the option to kick it, arc it, or insert the fb based on gameplan.

  • eccdogg

    Yeah I think the way folks used to play it was that the FS was the 9th guy to either side in the “Alley”.

    If the Slot/TE Arced then then the FS had him deep. If the TE/Slot blocked down the FS filled.

  • john ridgway

    LOL Really Roman. Shuck and jive is shuck and jive no matter how you paint it. 1st. Commandment of the NFL, Thou not not be able to run east and west. Thee days are over from college. That meaning defenses are faster in the NFL and smarter. Its only a matter of time before some team figures it out and sends the answer to every team in the league. Remember the classic line in Independence Day from the general, “Tell everybody how to bring those bast#$d’s down” Once contained Colin has to win on his arm, he can’t. The whole cannon arm is a farce. The reason Colin only got over 300+ yards in passing was because he HAD too. He was limited to 67 yards rushing, result a big L. Back to the drawing board “mobile qb” lovers, you obsession for the ultimate run/pass qb sage continues. You’d figure after 22 years of this and all but one success story Steve Young with one SB you’d give up this dream.

  • DB

    Colin has plenty of arm and plenty of accuracy. The fact that the run is PART of the offensive scheme is good for football. I’ll never understand the disdain exhibited by ‘traditional’ qb lovers when a successful duel threat qb emerges. To say that it can’t be done seems short sighted and, at worse, foolish. Without the NFL legislating passing success do you think that the tradition of a stone footed QB would have been established?