2016 Season Blog.

Pats Vs. 49ers.

4th Quarter.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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San Fran started the 4th 1st and 10 at their 25. They lined up in a 2-Wide Weak shotgun. The Pats matched up in a 3-4, with McCourty in the box. He was spying Kaepernick. They ran play action to the blindside, and Kaepernick sprinted to his right looking for somewhere to throw to the right. But the coverage was perfect.

Ninkovich kind-of set the edge, and Kaepernick stopped and looked back. "Just being able to contain him and things like that," Flowers said about Kaepernick. "That was one of our priorities in the game. So we got after him a little bit, and we were able to contain him." He turned back to the left and saw Branch had broken free, and immediately threw the ball out of bounds.

I don't know how we're going to get along the next month without Branch. "Well, that's not my decision so I'll see how it plays out and we'll deal with it accordingly," BB said. "That's not uncommon in this league. We've dealt with this before whether it be whatever context the situation is. It could be injury related or it could be non-injury related. There are a lot of times we go into a game not knowing for sure if a player will be available for the game or not. Sometimes that decision isn't made until a couple of hours before the game. We deal with it pretty much every week. I mean, so does every other team." I think he has been the best player on the defense the past month or so.

Both Malcolm Brown and Valentine are going to have to step it up big time, and having a Sheard with his mind right wouldn't hurt either. "Well, going into the game it's a function of how we determine our roster and how we determine our groupings going into the game based on our game plan and our matchup against our opponent," BB said when asked about Brown and Valentine. "Once we get into the game sometimes those units change but I would say not frequently. More often in the game it then becomes a little more situational, so the groupings may be selected based on the individual circumstances of that game or possibly the score and situation in the game in the second half, that kind of thing. So sometimes you could go into a game thinking you're going to play let's just call it half the plays in one grouping and half the plays in another grouping, and then once the game actually unfolds, for whatever the reasons are, it could be 80/20 or it could be 20/80 [percent]." Both of them should be starting this week in New Jersey.

BB did a good job evading the question with a long answer to the key question involved in overcoming the Branch forced vacation. But he did give a nice coaching tutorial on defensive subbing. Which is going to be paramount this Sunday.

How much can the rookie Valentine and the mysterious Sheard play? "That's why when there's questions about snap counts and all of that, defensively you don't control who they put on the field and to a certain extent I think you have to matchup with every grouping," BB continued. "But there's some things you're going to just have to matchup against one way or another unless, I mean, I don't think there's a team in the league that doesn't matchup to some degree, usually a pretty significant degree. So if those are the matchups that you're getting then to a certain extent that's going to determine the play-time of that grouping." Branch, Brown, and Flowers were forming a great trio inside, and dominated San Fran.

That rotation has been broken up. "Now again, I'm not saying there aren't some ways to deal with that," BB continued some more. "But it would take some planning, it would take some practice, and it would take some work. It's not undoable but if you didn't want to match certain groups, you wanted to keep certain players on the field, you'd have to have an appropriate scheme that would handle those personnel groups instead of substituting a personnel group that I would say would more easily match it." Now, Valentine has to step into Branch's role.

Valentine is big, but Branch is one of the biggest defenders in the whole NFL, and interior O-linemen haven't been able to handle his size this season. "Those are some of the things you get into," BB continued for the last time. "I mean, ultimately the better the players play, the better an individual player plays, the better he performs, the more production he has then the more he's going to play. I mean, that's pretty straight forward around here. Everybody knows that and that's the way it'll be. It's my philosophy. Guys that don't play as well need to improve, need to find a way to be more productive, need to do something to change their playing time, or playing status, or whatever you want to call it and when that happens then things will change." Maybe the only good news is that if Branch keeps his shape, he should be healthy and ready for the playoffs (and he is allowed to practice with the team, because he is only suspended for drugs, not for having soft balls).

2nd and 10, the 49ers go Pistol, and the Pats matched up in a 3-4, with Branch and Brown lined up right in the middle. Branch hopped over onto the Nose. Both hold up and don't give up an inch. Hyde tried to slash between them and he crashed into Brown, and Brown got knocked off his feet. But Branch was there to hit him from the side, and take him down. I thought Hyde was incredible in this game, and that was one of those plays where he should have been stopped at the line, but somehow got four.

3rd and 6, and the Pats were great on 3rd downs in this game. "Yeah, generally speaking we've been at a good level of production on 3rd down for a number of years," BB said "But statistically, and for obvious reasons, I think that's always going to be more favorable as the distance decreases.

"Every once in a while, you get an aberration in that, and then that gives you cause to look at it a little more carefully if you're producing better in third-and-six-to-nine than you are in third-and-two-to-three. Either you're doing very well on the long yardage, or you're not doing very well in situations that you should be doing better in. You have to take a closer look at that and see what the issues are.

"But I think historically, that's been a pretty good situation for us relative to the league averages and so forth. But it's hard to convert third-and-longs against anybody, anywhere. Every once in a while there's a team or two in the league that is above the averages on third-and-10-plus, or third-and-eight-to-10 or whatever the breakdowns are, but honestly, that usually doesn't last too long." This was another big 3rd down for the Pats D.

San Fran lined up 4-Wide Weak Shotgun with Trips right. The Pats match up in a 2-4 Nickel, with six guys on the line. Three dropped. Hightower spied. Kaepernick threw deep to Kerley.

Ninkovich and Flower got a little pressure in Kaepernick's face. "I think we created a lot of chaos with the passrush," Logan Ryan said. "And I think those guys rushed the passer great, and made it easier for us. We had each others backs, and we weren't worried about mistackle or making mistakes. I think everyone covered up for each other very well." Eric Rowe punched the ball out before it could reach Kerley.

4th and 6, and the 49ers were forced to punt to Cyrus Jones, as the other Jones rookie, Jonathon, blocked. "Two young players that both have good skillsets but they're I'd say a little bit different," BB said when asked about the two rookie Corners. "They help us in a number of different ways in the kicking game and on defense. Both are working hard, getting better. I'd like to see those guys in the game. Right now we have other players ahead of them defensively in I would say a lot of situations, but I think these guys are pressing hard and improving and I think they're eventually going to be a factor for us more than they have been.

"But we'll see how that goes. Jonathan has been very productive for us in the kicking game and Cyrus has in his opportunities. And I think he'll get more of those to continue to give us production there. Both [are] young and developing, improving players. I'm glad we have them. They've helped us. I think they're going to help us more going forward at some point. We'll just have to see how that goes." Cyrus caught the punt, and tried to head outside, but was smashed into instantly.

The Pats then went three and Out, as Brady made a bad throw to Dion on 2nd down. "I thought that Dion made the most of his opportunities, made some good runs with the ball in space and caught the ball out of the backfield," McDaniels said. "And he got an opportunity in his first game back to handle the ball. To do some things in there: run some routes, be in the backfield in protection.

"So it was good to have him get through that first game, playing 20-something snaps in that first game, and put him back into the mix and in the flow of our offense. We'll try to build off of that, but I have confidence in all three of those guys and look forward to continue to use all three of them the best we can each week." Brady over threw Edelman again to force the punt.

The Pats three and outted the 49ers on the next series. Led by a sack on 2nd down by Flowers. Kaepernick ran an odd little option to the right. Valentine was lined up as the strongside 5-tech. He shifted outside on the Zone blocked Option, and split the double team right in front of Kaepernick. Kaepernick was forced to stop. Flowers shoved the ORG to the ground, and had contain. When Kaepernick turned back against the grain he burst forward and sacked him.

Then on 3rd down, both Long and Van Noy where on the Blindside edge, They both shed their blockers simultaneously, and Van Noy twisted behind Long, and they pressured Kaepernick into a bad-throw/throw-away to force the punt. 

1st and 10, at the Pats 30, the Pats lined up in a 3-Wide Singleback. They ran a beautiful play action. So the protection was beautiful. Edelman was in the left Slot. He ran a beautiful pattern, where he got an inside release, and cut outside on a post. When he crossed the CBs face again, and got open. Brady lofted a beautiful pass to him right on the sideline. But Edelman dragged his back foot and not his front foot, and his big toe landed just out of bounds.

2nd and 10, the Pats lined up in a 4-Wide Strong shotgun. Brady dropped and quick threw to White sneaking out of the backfield. He caught it and headed outside. He made a linebacker miss on a cutback. But was then grabbed and taken down by a big Ronald Blair.

3rd and 3, the Pats motioned into a 4-Wide Weak shotgun. Brady had time, and Cannon and Solder washed both edgerusher past him. Which open up a lane to White sneaking out of the backfield. He caught it low, and looked up to the CB Brock bearing down on him. White got real low and popped him with his shoulders pads and then scrambled over him for the 1st. Strangely they call a neutral zone infraction on the 49ers as well. So I think that was a double 1st down. White got the 41, the ball was spotted on the 42, and play went on.

1st and 10, the Pats lined up in a Weak formation. They ran Blount on a Dive. But the 49ers were ready for it. Blount tried to shift to the right a little, but Brooks dived onto his leg. He twisted forward for not much. 2nd and 8, 3-Wide Weak Shotgun. Brady tried to hit Bennett going down the right sideline, but the ball flew way over his head and zoomed out of bounds.

3rd and 8, the Pats lined up in a 3-Wide Winged shotgun. Brady got some pressure as both Dion and White fled the pocket without chipping. Both edgerushers got the outside shoulders of Solder and Cannon. They just shoved them past Brady. But then he got some pressure up the middle, or having both edge guys behind him spooked him, and he took off.

He fled upfield and to the right. "I’m trying not to do that," Brady said about getting hit as he throws. "Truthfully, I think they were pretty good in coverage. They took away some of those early reads. There’s a lot of opportunities to be made when you do that because our guys can spring free with their quickness. We had a lot of those plays. There’s a lot of times, like on the touchdown pass to Malcolm, someone said you got hit on that. I don’t remember that. You throw it and see it on film the next day." Brooks shed Cannon and was bearing down on him from behind.

Brady threw the ball down field as he hopped over the 40-yard line, and Brooks dived into him from behind and smashed him face first into the turf. "It was just a phenomenal pass by Tom," Mitchell said. "[He] scrambled, kind-of turned up field. He found me. And we just took it from there." The ball went about 20-yard in the air on a rope.

Mitchell had lined up on the right. He got jammed pretty good by the CB Reaser in front of him. He really ruined his release in the first three yards. He turned inside, and kind-of stopped at the marker. But Reaser was still all over him. Then he saw Brady escape to his side. So he wheeled-around, and dashed down field behind Reaser.

Mitchell curled just enough outside. "It was a third-down pass and he was short of the sticks so I scrambled up," Brady said. "He wheeled and I just saw a little separation, and just tried to give him a chance. He made a great play. That was a phenomenal play by Malcolm. We really needed it. It was tough conditions out there. We hung in there, bought it out. and grinded it out pretty good." Brady placed the ball right between Reaser and Brock, who was covering Amendola behind Mitchell.

He reached out and grabbed the ball, and cut back behind Brock. "He's done a little bit of that for us through the year," BB said. "He runs hard. He gets up field. He did that today. It's good. That's what receivers should do: catch the ball, get up field [after the catch]." Then it was pure speed.

He took off like a bat out of hell. He ran away from three CBs like they were D-linemen. There were three DBs between him and the Endzone, not including Reaser, when he caught the ball. But he accelerated so explosively that they didn't have a chance to get within 5-yards of him. Mitchell had 98-yards and a TD on four catches off 5 targets. Game. Set. Match. Pats.

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