Does Red Zone efficiency really matter in the NFL? A look at the 49ers

There’s an entire channel dedicated to it on NFL.com.  Personnel are signed and selected specifically for their ability to alter the game in these scenarios.  Teams spend countless hours throughout a season analyzing, game planning, and practicing from inside the 20 yard line.  

It’s the Red Zone.  

TGC Red ZoneHow you execute within in it (offensively & defensively) can be the difference in an average club and an elite organization.  Scoring opportunities are a limited commodity in professional football and taking advantage of every chance is vital to success or failure on Sundays.  Six of the top ten teams in Red Zone scoring percentage (TD’s only) participated in the 2012 playoffs (earth shattering I know).  Five of ten were playoff bound on the defensive side of Red Zone scoring percentage (TD’s only).  So perhaps you should pay attention to those teams showing success deep in an opponent’s territory and keep your Red Zone channel in memory mode on your remote.

Here’s  a nice job (for those that are fans & those that are fans of teams that have to play them) of breaking down the 2012 NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers’ (they finished #15 in the NFL at 54.69%, up from 40.68%) tendencies when field position REALLY counts.

The Kaepernick-Era San Francisco 49ers’ Red Zone Offense

By Jordan Plocher – StarvingScout.com

I charted every Red Zone (25 Yd-Goal Line) Offensive snap that the 49ers ran with Colin Kaepernick at Quarterback, from when he came into the game versus the Rams in Week 10 through the Super Bowl.  The following are my conclusions.

Play-calling Philosophy

The 49ers Red Zone play-calling philosophy seems to be designed to stretch a Defense out horizontally and then find a hole and get the ball to it.  In the run game the 49ers prefer power runs and Read-Options. In the pass game the 49ers’ do use some vertical routes and concepts but not to resounding success.  Instead, the 49ers feature more of Horizontal, 3-Level, Quick-Game and Drag Concepts relying heavily on Flat Routes, Swing Routes and Crossing Routes to stretch the Defense horizontally.  They also run some pick or “rub” routes via crossing routes from each side, or by sending Michael Crabtree in motion and then running a quick-out behind the other WRs as his man gets picked off by the commotion.

Tendencies by Personnel Grouping

22 Personnel-48 Plays (Run-31, Pass-17)
In 22 Personnel the preferred targets are outs and slants.  The preferred runs are power runs and read-option runs.  When it is not a read-option they’re is a very strong tendency to run right at where the move TE ends up.  This is one of the reasons the 49ers employ so much pre-snap movement.  By shifting at the last moment or sending the move TE in motion it lets them reveal at the last moment where the ball is going.

12 Personnel-46 Plays (Run-20, Pass-26)
In 12 Personnel the preferred run play is read-option.  The majority of their Vertical pass calls are in 12 Personnel.  There are also hook and cross targets to both TEs.  If the 49ers are trailing big and have to pass to get back into the game they will do it out of 12 Personnel.

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TGC Starving Scout

Jordan Plocher

StarvingScout.com  @starvingscout