6 Offensive Takeaways From The 49ers Week 1 Win

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Heinz Field and while we have some future posts that will dedicated to previewing that game, I thought I would share some of my initial offensive observations from their Monday night win over the Minnesota Vikings.

1 – For starters, the 49ers love to use their tight ends. In fact, they dressed four of them Monday night along with fullback Bruce Miller. According to my count, the 49ers used two or more tight ends on 50 of the 66 plays that they ran against the Vikings. On nine other plays, they used Miller and one tight end and that resulted in them using their 11 personnel just seven times in the game. Six of those seven plays were on third downs, however. Their tight ends also combined to catch seven of the 17 completed passes in the game.

2 – As for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick goes, you should already know by now that he’s not afraid to take off with the football. Monday night he rushed for 41 yards on seven carries and five of those were scrambles. Kaepernick was at his best Monday night when he used playaction as he completed 10 of 12 attempts for 101 yards after faking a handoff. Some of those playaction plays were also designed misdirection roll outs. Of his 14 passing attempts that did not include playaction, he completed just seven of them 64 yards. As far as Kaepernick and his deep passing attempts Monday night, he had just three that traveled more than 15 yards past the original line of scrimmage and none of those were completed. Of his 17 completed passes in the game, 11 of them traveled five or less yards past the line of scrimmage in the air.

3 – 49ers running back Carlos Hyde stole the show Monday night as he rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on his 26 carries. It’s worth pointing out, however, that 10 of Hyde’s 26 carries came in the fourth quarter and that those runs resulted in 74 yards and a touchdown. Hyde’s four longest runs Monday night came via the outside zone and 16 of his 26 carries went outside of the left guard, and they accounted for 129 of his 168 rushing yards. Hyde is athletic for a running back of his size and build and that was evidenced by the spin move he used to that resulted in a touchdown in the third quarter.

4 – As far as the 49ers offensive line goes, they wore down the Vikings front as the game wore on. It also didn’t hurt that they used multiple tight ends on the line as previously mentioned. They are athletic enough to run the outside zone effectively and Hyde is patient enough to wait for the running lanes to develop. Kaepernick was sacked just once in the game and that’s not too surprising being as he’s not afraid to tuck the football and run. Left tackle Joe Staley and left guard Alex Boone are easily the 49ers best offensive linemen so it’s no wonder why they like running left so much. All five of their starting offensive linemen were penalized Monday night, however, and center Marcus Martin led the group by being flagged twice.

5 – Two of the 49ers wide receivers have great resumes, but they really weren’t a big factor against the Vikings. Anquan Boldin caught four passes for 36 yards while Torrey Smith caught only one pass for 11 yards on three targets. A lot of their infectiveness Monday night can probably be traced back to Kaepernick. Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington combined to play 17 snaps in the game and the latter registered two catches for 8 yards.

6 – Being as running back Reggie Bush left the game with a calf injury early on, it’s hard to tell just how much that affected the 49ers offensive game plan. Bush has always been player that is best used sparingly and out in space so it’s safe to assume that he could’ve had several additional touches Monday night had he not suffered a calf strain. He exited the game after touching the football three times for a total of 8 yards.

  • 695hoops

    We’ll have serious problems if the offense doesn’t produce long drives that end with touchdowns.

  • Steve

    Looks like the Niners will run left and dink and dunk. Kapernick always was a good running QB. James and Cam should be stout to stop the run. Let us see how our O opens up their D. Hopefully Williams has a good day running and eats up the clock and scores often.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Runs outside of left guard is JH territory! BOOM!

  • dano

    and heyward! there’s no excuse if they have success like against the vikings

  • B717

    Hopefully our D can open up their O.

    I’ll see myself out…

  • diaking900

    I think Tomlin needs to be fired, if BOYKIN DOES NOT PLAY AGAIN!!!
    How can u not play him at pats game
    when Allen and Blake looked like scrubs???
    Is he afraid to give out 4th round pick
    He already wasted 3rd, 4th picks on Landry jones, dri archer
    and put 4th round pick Doran Grant on Practice Squad

  • mem359

    I’m worried that it doesn’t matter that Kapernick isn’t good with the deep ball.

    If the Steeler’s DBs are out of position and fail to look for the ball in the air, the Niners can do what Flacco and Tebow did: throw a high deep ball, and let the receiver fight for it. (Easier to gamble when the DBs are not looking to intercept or deflect the pass.)

  • Xclewsive

    I know that the 49ers run through and around the Vikings defense, but the Vikings offense was putrid. Colin Kaepernick isn’t a very good at QB, so those who think he’s gonna pick as apart are mistaken. The Steelers offense is going to put up points, but those points need to be within the first few quarters. The Steelers offense can easily make the 49ers offense one dimensional and give the defense a chance to make plays.

  • Intropy

    My biggest concern defensively is missing tackles followed closely by failing to maintain gap integrity. Tackling was bad all-around against NE and in the preseason, and in the opener the big guys up front didn’t play as well collectively as you want to see.

  • Trevor

    I’m nervous about their use of multiple TE sets since we’ve given up a TD to TE in every game through the preseason and obviously to Gronk. That appears to be a weakness in our defensive scheme and might prove to be the same story against SF. Here’s hoping they make an adjustment, but through six games I’m not hopeful.

  • SteelersDepot

    Fired for not playing a cornerback?

  • PittsburghSports

    Heyward and Harrison/JJ are going to have their hands full.

  • cencalsteeler

    In the first week of football, there was something like 22 TDs scored by TE’s. We see where the trend is moving. Mismatching these smaller corners with these giant, more athletic TE’s. We even got a glimpse of TE’s being moved outside. If we continue to play Allen on these guys, we’re going to see alot of the same results. To me, it makes the most sense that Shazier is our best fit to manage that role. His speed and strength is our best option.

  • SfSteeler

    Yup gotta tackle those dink n dunkrs