49ers’ Deebo Samuels brings influence, gravity to open up San Francisco’s offense

Welcome to the fun establishment. Football is fun there and we have established football that is harder than the Atlanta Falcons on a Sunday afternoon. We've got another 3-pack of his fun nuggets and trivia to include in your viewing this weekend. As the NFL season approaches, some really great trends are emerging and more players are starting to establish themselves as winners at this level. We're seeing more teams peaking and improving at the right time, or teams with young teams developing right before their last playoff appearance.

So, let's have a little fun and start with a young pass catcher out West starting to make a name for himself.

McBride of McBall

There are some things in life that are better when the main character or star character returns. Jet is much better at Spike Spiegel. Sokka and Toph become more rounded characters when placed next to Aang. Trafalgar Law is at its best when combining his persona and attitude with Monkey D. Luffy.

It's the same in soccer. Very good or elite players who come back from injury or suspension often make everyone else play better on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, and we see that with the Arizona Cardinals. There's one thing worth noting since Kyler Murray returned. Tight end Trey McBride has become a top target. Since Murray returned to the lineup in Week 10, McBride has seen a significant increase in targets and production. Since Murray returned, he ranks 10th in the NFL in targets, fourth in receptions and fourth in yards after the catch. Since Week 10, among tight ends with 10 targets, McBride ranks third in yards per route run, 10th in first down percentage and 10th in points per route run. Not only did he become Murray's security blanket, he became a true impact player at all three of his levels on the field.

What stands out about McBride is his physicality and excellent runner after the catch. Since Week 10, McBride ranks second in the NFL among tight ends on screen routes, but ranks first in yards on screens by a margin of over 30 yards. McBride can easily hit acceleration despite not being a true burner at the position, but he almost always makes the first man miss with pure strength and power. The Cardinals used him on a screen against the Texans and I was really impressed with the look on his face during that pass. Just a simple attack.

The Cardinals love to use McBride in bubble screens to isolate him in the corners. He did it with great success in Murray's first game back against the Falcons. Look at McBride's call, it's very elk-like. Placing these types of players in the short to intermediate areas helps tie the Cardinals offense together and makes them easy targets for the Cardinals when the run game isn't working.

His YAC ability stands out not only in screens and RPO games, but also in making plays with contact downfield and turning short gains into big catch-and-run opportunities. Murray and Cardinals trust him in the middle of the field (1st in route running, targets and catches above MOF) and once he gets the ball, he looks for contact rather than avoiding it. .

The Cardinals are running a high-low concept here, with Arizona running 12 players. A curl route by the second tight end takes out the middle linebacker and leaves McBride open in the middle of the field. When McBride gets the ball, he bounces off the defender and turns the play into a first down.

On top of that, McBride is clearly trusted as a downfield target for Murray, and for good reason. The Cardinals' tight end is good at not only using his body to create space in front of the catch, but also making catches out of bounds. It's even more impressive when you look at his athletic profile, but he doesn't have the longest arms or the biggest tight end. His body control is great for the position and is a savior for Murray.

I really love this throw and catch from the Cardinals in Pittsburgh last week. Murray has a lot of faith in McBride to go up and make this catch. McBride was able to run an over route and force the middle defender into a trail position, but the defender is in a position where he could end up playing on the ball if Murray tries to throw the ball forward. So Kyler puts this ball on the top shelf and look at the extensions McBride does to carry this ball. It's a huge, quality catch, but not substandard for McBride since Murray's return.

This catch against the Falcons was a very high-quality play and showcased McBride's ball-tracking skills. Incredible throw, catch, and celebration. There are no notes.

The Cardinals received a bye this week, but keep an eye on McBride in the coming weeks.

How the 49ers used Devo to beat the Eagles.

Last week, the 49ers and Eagles faced off in the NFL's greatest battle. A heated rivalry that began in the NFC Championship Game was set to be a fierce clash between the mighty Titans.

Instead, it looked like this:

The 49ers defeated the Eagles 42-19, and what stood out most was their offense.Everyone was healthy, so the offense was a buzzsaw, and rather than discuss Brock Purdy. (Glancing at /Twitter) I decided to focus on WR Deebo Samuel and how his influence and importance opens everything up on the Niners' offense. When San Francisco lost badly in three games and Samuel was injured, the Niners had no easy offensive options. Now that Samuel is back, the offense has even more versatility and dynamic options. Against the Eagles, they used Samuel as a decoy and a way to attack Philadelphia's biggest weakness: linebackers.

San Francisco specifically used a return orbit motion, sending Samuel to the far side of the formation and then pulling him back to the side where he started, but this time back behind the QB. This has implications for second-level defenders, as the Niners could pass the ball to Samuel from this motion or throw the ball to pull a defender out of the middle of the field. It's tough playing a LB in the NFL, but Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers are making hell on earth. Devo starts a return orbit motion here, watching how hard the linebacker triggers down on the action, leaving George Kittle open in the middle of the field for a 33-yard gain. That backside linebacker is completely lost.

For one of the Niners' six touchdowns, San Francisco uses Samuel in the same return-to-track motion as above. Watch how Blankenship looks too closely at Devo's movement and drags him out of the box, allowing WR Brandon Aiyuk to slip behind him and the Niners score.

When the team decided to protect the middle of the field against San Francisco, Shanahan built on concept upon concept, giving the offense multiple options. Although this is a simple 9-yard gain, multiple concepts are incorporated into the way it is designed. This turns into his 4-strong look in San Francisco, where if the opposing defense has multiple people in his MOF, he puts Devo on this orbital return motion with a blocker in front of him and runs the checkdown to his 9-yard line. It can be changed to gain.

What the Niners really missed from Devo is his screen game and creation after contact. Devo is a very special and unique player with ridiculous contact balance that extends every play. In games without Deebo, Niners receivers gained only 57 yards after contact. Since returning in Week 10, Samuel has 126 yards after contact. No other player has more than 100. How many receivers not only break a tackle from a middle linebacker, but convert it into a touchdown?

The Niners will play Seattle this weekend for a chance to completely lock down the NFC West. If everyone is healthy, covering the 49ers is a choose-your-own-adventure book, and if you go the Devo route, you might get your bike stolen.

Can you feel the love tonight?

After Week 9, the Packers begin to realize that all they really need in life is love. In his first year as a starter, QB Jordan Love went through some ups and downs, but when given time to grow and develop, Love blossomed into something great for the Packers.around Ben Baldwin's site, Love ranks sixth in completion percentage and fifth in points per play since Week 9, and the Packers are 4-1 since that point. What was so cool watching Love play with the Packers this year was how coach Matt LaFleur designed an offense that took advantage of Love's tools and aggressively throwing the ball downfield. Everything went right for Love in the Packers' upset win over Kansas City, and he was a lot of fun to watch.

During this period, the Packers were 5th in play-action dropbacks, and play-action not only solves all of the offense's problems, it also simplifies Love and the Packers' reads and greatly improves their timing. It is useful for That was on full display against the Packers, as LaFleur designed his offense to utilize all of his skills. On this play-action pass, the Packers had Dontaevion Wicks run a deep over and Christian Watson crossed paths with him. It's an offensive pitch downfield, but the Chiefs cover it almost to the max. But look at the timing of Love throwing this ball. Justin Reid is closing in on this ball well and should be covered, but at the pace Love is throwing this pass, he can't make a play on it.

I really like this play-action concept because it's based on a run design the Packers have used before. Reed jumps off with a toss action and Love shoves one into Tuckercraft. A really good plan from LaFleur that I keep in my bag all season long.

Now that that's resolved…let's move on to the light show. Jordan Love is a very aggressive passer who likes to throw passes deep downfield and into tight windows. Now that the inaccuracy and timing issues have been ironed out, the high price is a reminder that he was a first-round pick. I love this pitch against Cover 2. The Packers will run Craft on flat routes and WR Romeo Doubes on deep corners. Love can barely step on this throw due to the pressure, but his arm talent allows him to send this ball downfield to Doubs for a big play. Really high level arm talent.

Hearing the touchdown to Christian Watson really got me out of my seat. It's a great throw for someone who struggled with touch and accuracy during the Packers' down years. The Chiefs are in Cover 0, with deep safety bringing Jaden Reed onto the field. Watson was now 1-on-1 and Love placed the ball nicely over the top. Love doesn't even step into the throw and puts this one in the corner pocket. oh.

The Packers are currently in the playoffs, which is far ahead of schedule for the NFL's youngest team. They take on the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, so if you want more fireworks, feel the love in your life.

I'm sure the Packers don't regret it.



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