When the Las Vegas Raiders confronted the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, you most likely anticipated 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, the rookie Mr. Irrelevant who had led the NFL in passer ranking (110.0) since who turned the staff’s starter in Week 13, would deal with the Raiders’ cross protection, which ranked final in DVOA. And that occurred. In San Francisco’s 37-34 additional time win, Purdy accomplished 22 of 35 passes for 284 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 95.4 passer ranking. As has been the case all through his unbelievable current journey, Purdy did the whole lot he might to win.
What we did NOT anticipate on this sport was for brand new Raiders starter Jarrett Stidham, the 2019 fourth-round decide of the New England Patriots, to launch into his first NFL begin in opposition to one of the best protection within the NFL, to do the identical. Stidham had accomplished 24 of 48 passes for 270 yards, two touchdowns, 4 interceptions and a 46.4 passer ranking in two seasons with the Patriots.
Former New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels clearly noticed one thing in Stidham, as a result of shortly after McDaniels turned the Raiders’ head coach, Las Vegas traded a 2023 sixth-round decide to the Patriots for Stidham and a 2023 seventh-round decide. The one motion Stidham had seen within the 2022 common season earlier than Sunday’s sport was in Week 8 cleanup obligation in opposition to the New Orleans Saints in a 24-0 loss. However with McDaniels’ resolution to bench Derek Carr… a transfer that possible heralds the top of Carr’s time with the franchise — Now it was as much as Stidham, who accomplished 8 of 13 passes for 72 yards in opposition to the Saints, to create the required explosive performs in opposition to a protection that had been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks all season.
This can’t be overstated. McDaniels was throwing Stidham into the enamel of a protection that was ranked first in Defensive DVOAFirst in weighted defensive DVOA and fifth in cross protection DVOA, the 49ers had allowed simply 16 landing passes on 15 interceptions. In in the present day’s NFL, in case your protection is even on these two numbers, your protection is unbelievable. And the 49ers’ protection has been like that every one season.
So how did Stidham rock that protection with 23-of-34 completions for 365 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 108.1 passer ranking, in opposition to a protection that had allowed an 82.3 passer ranking all season, the third finest within the league behind the Denver Broncos and New York Jets?
And to be granular about it, how come Stidham was chargeable for eight explosive cross performs this sport, when he went 0-for-2 in opposition to the Saints on photographs of 20 or extra passing yards? In opposition to such throwing this season, the 49ers have allowed 16 completions of 38 makes an attempt for 550 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 93.6 opponent passer ranking (about mid-pack). This wasn’t the Raiders benefiting from a hitherto unknown weak point within the DeMeco Ryans’ protection: it was the Raiders dictating that protection in a method no different staff has this season.
Fascinating questions, so let’s dive underneath the hood and see the way it got here to be.
It is an previous rumor that you just want an incredible operating sport to determine the motion sport. Not true, and that has been confirmed time and time once more. However if in case you have a dominant operating again who defenses should plan for, it actually helps. The Raiders have that assist in Josh Jacobs, who had 69 yards and a landing on 17 carries. It wasn’t his finest sport, however Jacobs was as worthwhile in the specter of his expertise as he was within the actuality on the sphere.
4 of Stidham’s eight explosive pitches got here with sport motion, and you would see how San Francisco’s protection was affected by it, particularly linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, the NFL’s finest duo on the place.
This 24-yard landing cross to tight finish Darren Waller with 11:45 left within the first quarter was the obvious instance. When Stidham faked in opposition to Jacobs, Warner, Greenlaw, cornerback Deommodore Lenoir and security Talanoa Hufanga all cheated. Hufanga’s delay in breaking Waller’s sail path was the distinction that made the play occur simply for Stidham. As quickly as Waller made his method outdoors, Hufanga was out of luck.
Stidham bought one other massive play for a good finish, this time it was Foster Moreau, with 6:44 left within the fourth quarter and an identical look. As earlier than, Jacobs’ faking brought on each linebackers (Warner and Oren Burks) in addition to Lenoir to cheat. Moreau did an incredible job promoting his delayed launch by sticking round to dam Nick Bosa (all the time a good suggestion), so when it leaked, Lenoir was caught off guard.
Nice job of scouting by the Raiders workers right here, by the way in which, and that is one thing the 49ers have to get a deal with on. Earlier than this sport, they allowed 70 completions of 102 makes an attempt for 749 yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions and a 100.5 opponent passer ranking. It is a uncommon vulnerability that Stidham and McDaniels have been capable of exploit.
Six of Stidham’s explosive pitches have been aided by the pre-snap transfer, and McDaniels and his workers did an excellent job of giving Stidham each the transfer to point and the transfer to interrupt. Transfer to point means that you’re sending individuals by the formation earlier than the plugin to get a protection indicator. Interrupt transfer means you are transferring a participant earlier than the snap to benefit from what you see as a positive matchup.
On this 24-yard cross to Waller with 8:20 left within the first half, tight finish Jesper Horsted’s transfer did a factor or two for San Francisco’s protection. The 49ers have been on the purpose guard workers in opposition to the Raiders’ workers of 13 (one operating again, three tight ends, one receiver), and also you see all three linebackers — Warner, Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair — checking from left to proper. Hufanga additionally checked and pulled Moreau as soon as the ball was in play. Lenoir’s job was to get Waller to the numbers, and that did not truly occur.
Stidham’s 45-yard cross to Davante Adams with 1:53 left within the fourth quarter started with Adams working from the left slot to proper discipline, and the 49ers staying in Cowl-3. This put Lenoir over Adams one on one outdoors with no assist, and that is not a spot you wish to be until you are a closed man. Lenoir is an efficient participant, however…
The 49ers had been higher in opposition to motion than in opposition to sport motion this season: That they had allowed 110 completions on 176 makes an attempt for 1,099 yards, 9 touchdowns, six interceptions and an opponent passer ranking of 83.0, which is seventh-best within the NFL. It was much less about defensive vulnerability and extra about McDaniels understanding how a protection could be placed on its heels with a pre-snap transfer.
Not that Stidham was excellent on this sport: The interception he threw with 7:53 left in additional time arrange Robbie Gould’s game-winning 56-yard discipline purpose. Right here, Stidham was getting too cute underneath heavy stress from Bosa, making an attempt to concede a deep cross to Adams. Tashaun Gipson, a seasoned pundit, most likely thought “Choose” the second the ball left Stidham’s hand.
“For them to maintain coming again and have to enter additional time like that, it was wonderful to see. [Gipson] take that decide and take it out,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan stated. “I used to be very glad we did not should go to a different unit.”
General, this was an interesting have a look at how one teaching workers can beat one other, even with inadequate offense on the sport’s most vital place, and even when the ultimate rating does not mirror it. McDaniels and his workers did an excellent job planning issues for Stidham, and one of the best protection within the NFL struggled to reply for essentially the most half.
“I believe Jarrett did an incredible week of labor,” McDaniels stated after the loss. “He is aware of what to do, he is been in our system a very long time and he understands it. He understands what to do. I believe that in the present day he executed many issues in the suitable method. He gave our guys an opportunity to make some performs on the sphere.
“Main our staff, his power, his communication. I believe we had a superb rhythm”, added the pinnacle coach. “Clearly, you may inform, the fellows performed properly for him and so they performed arduous for him, like they need to. He did not shock me that he was able to go and play the way in which he performed.”
There are every kind of run-of-the-mill quarterbacks who lengthen their careers with former coaches in new locations, based mostly on the concept “He understands the system.” More often than not, it does not work the way in which anybody would have preferred. This was a uncommon exception. Though the top outcome was an in depth loss, and nobody is saying Stidham is the Raiders’ quarterback of the long run, he actually demonstrated the worth of prior expertise in methods most individuals in his place merely cannot. .
Additionally, the 49ers have work to do with some defensive ideas, and it is good to clear that up earlier than the playoffs start. This was the best outcome for the San Francisco coaches: they bought the win and the instructing tape to maintain everybody on level because the common season involves an in depth.