Second thoughts on Martz and 49ers

December, 21, 2008
12/21/08
12:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

With the 49ers nearing their Week 16 kickoff, I wanted to make available for download the offensive personnel report from their game against the Dolphins.

The 49ers were pretty effective from their four-receiver packages. Coordinator Mike Martz caught the Dolphins off-guard late in the third quarter with a handoff to DeShaun Foster from a four-receiver package on second-and-10. Foster gained 10 yards on the play.

I marked down Martz for some of the late-game confusion, but after watching this game more closely, I probably would have left him off the stock-falling list, as SukiDillon suggested in the comments section of that item.

We've heard about Martz calling 21 consecutive pass plays to end the game. It's fair to ask whether a couple of well-timed runs might have made some of those later passes more effective, but the 49ers were moving the ball pretty well. At one point during that 21-play stretch, Shaun Hill completed 9 of 12 passes for 66 yards.

The personnel report shows tendencies across personnel groupings and situations. Note that the two-tight end packages include those plays when tight end Sean Ryan lines up at fullback.

The 49ers used two tight ends frequently on first and second down. They use one back, three wide receivers and one tight end across all three downs. Martz used that group exclusively on third-and-7 to third-and-10. He went with four receivers exclusively on third-and-11 or longer.

If we pay attention to these things, we can know what questions to ask when the approach changes. A few years ago, I noticed the Seahawks suddenly changed their personnel in short-yardage situations. Looking at the timing, I noticed the change lined up with other factors, including an injury to fullback Mack Strong.

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