Tuesday, September 11, 2012
49ers have new options, similar identity
By Mike Sando
The San Francisco 49ers loaded up on wide receivers this offseason.
Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and 2012 first-round choice A.J. Jenkins were key additions to a group featuring Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams and, when healthy, Ted Ginn Jr.
The additions made San Francisco the only NFL team with four wide receivers drafted in first rounds (Crabtree and Jenkins with the 49ers, Moss with Minnesota and Ginn with Miami).
While San Francisco has generally favored personnel groupings with two tight ends, the team gained options for using three or more wide receivers at a time.
Those options weren't all that necessary in Week 1. With the 49ers taking control early during a 30-22 victory at Green Bay, the team used three wide receivers five times on early downs, or about 10 percent of the time. That was down from closer to 13 percent last season. And with only nine third-down plays against Green Bay, San Francisco ran just 11 total snaps with more than two wideouts at a time, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The chart shows the 49ers' offensive production against Green Bay on early downs with zero, one, two and three wide receivers on the field together. The team attempted four passes from three-receiver groupings on these first- and second-down plays. Crabtree caught one of them for a 16-yard gain.
The 49ers converted twice in nine tries on third down. That included Crabtree's 20-yard gain on a third-and-8 reception in the third quarter. That play, from a three-receiver grouping, featured 16 yards after the catch.
This was a good game for Crabtree. He made strides last season. Coach Jim Harbaugh set a high bar for him publicly by saying Crabtree has the best hands he's seen on a receiver. Adding Moss and Manningham created a more competitive situation, too.