Why you should embrace the NFL combine

There is an overwhelming opinion that the NFL scouting combine is a wasted step in the long and tiresome draft process.

I can see why that opinion could exist—to a degree.

NFL Combine The NFL scouting combine is a three day job interview for rookie prospects.

Rookie prospects testing on the field in the 40-yard dash, short shuttle, vertical jump, etc. No pads. No game situations. Just guys running around in static drills that they train for months in advance.

Think about it. This is a take-home test. And prospects shell out big money (via their agents) to train at elite facilities around the country. The powerful start in the 40, the manicured steps in the short shuttle and the technique of the 3-Cone. That’s all practiced from the end of bowl season until now. Daily repetition designed to master these drills before they even count.

Those drills don’t tell us much about these prospects as football players. Nope. We get numbers from the combine. Numbers from guys in shorts. That’s it.

However, I still value the combine and see it as an important tool in the process.

I was gassed after the final drill inside of the RCA Dome back at the 2000 combine. My legs were tight, my back hurt from the turf and the stress of the three-day tour in Indy finally caught up with me. I was ready to get to the airport, head back to Iowa City and grab a Busch Light. Time to sit down for a minute. Heck, time to clear my mind.

The combine isn’t designed to be comfortable for these prospects. And it shouldn’t be. It’s a job interview. Remember that. Fly in and go through two days of interviews, bizarre written exams, medical testing, more interviews, the weigh-ins, bench-press, etc.

Then get ready to actually run on the third and final day in town.

That’s not easy. Trust me. These guys will be nervous when they set their hand down on the line, take a rehearsed stance and explode into the start of the 40-yard dash. Run hard. Run fast. That’s the goal. You get two chances to run the 40. So make them count. No stress there, right? And that can be applied to every drill on the field.

I don’t expect prospects to post their best times at the combine. That’s saved for the Pro Day when you can dress in your own locker room on campus and run in that comfortable environment. Easy work right there.

But not in Indy. No chance.

And that’s the reason I will always value the combine and the impact it has on rookie hopefuls. Put these prospects in an adverse situation and tell them to run, jump and do drills in front of the league’s top brass when they are stressed out and tired.

You can find out a lot about these guys in Indy. From the interviews to the workouts on the field, the NFL sends these young players through a series of tests. It’s a grind. A brutal grind at times. Just ask one of these prospects when the combine finally wraps up. They will tell you all about it.

And if I’m a scout, that’s exactly how I want it. Who can perform when the pressure is turned up in Indianapolis? We will find out soon…

NFL combine: Five Senior Bowl prospects to watch

Before I head to Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine, I always go back and check out my notes from the Senior Bowl. Which players stood out? And who can boost their draft stock even more by testing well on the field in Indy?

Here are five prospects I will be watching during drills as the draft process rolls on at the combine:

Quinton Patton US PRESSWIREAfter a solid week at the Senior Bowl, Patton can continue to drive his draft stock with a strong workout at the combine.

1. Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: Patton was in the mix with a talented group of WRs down in Mobile that included Markus Wheaton (Oregon State), Chris Harper (Kansas State) and the speed of Marquise Goodwin (Texas). Patton ran smooth routes, showed the ability to win on the double-move and finished consistently down the field on the deep ball. Now I want to see him run and compete in drills at the combine. The 40-yard dash carries weight at the WR position. We all know that. And coming off his performance in front of scouts at the Senior Bowl, a strong workout can move the Louisiana Tech product up the board.

2. Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) is projected to be the first OT off the board (possibly going No.1 overall) and Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) should be next in line this April. But don’t forget about Johnson. Talking with scouts at the Senior Bowl, the key with the Oklahoma product is the athletic ability he brings to the position. You could see that on the practice field with his footwork. In Indianapolis, Johnson has a great opportunity to showcase that athletic skill set during drills and possibly lock up a spot in the Top 15.

3. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington: I always watch DBs closely in Mobile and Trufant was the best corner I saw on the field. Quick feet with the ability to open the hips and drive on the ball. Plus, he played with some swagger during one-on-one drills. Scouts will want to get a 40 time on Trufant and they will also grade his technique along with the ability to transition with speed. Corner is a prime position in the NFL and teams are always looking to make upgrades in the secondary. Trufant can earn some money at the combine.

4. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU: There is no question the BYU product needs pro coaching. Watching him during one-on-one work at the Senior Bowl, the DE/OLB has to improve his technique at the point of attack and develop some counter moves outside of a speed rush. However, that will come once he starts to see reps in the NFL. And he has that raw talent clubs are looking for in an edge rusher. Ansah should post some impressive numbers at the combine.

5. Jonathan Cyprien, SS, FIU: The strong safety already has an NFL body, plays physical and had a good week in Mobile from my perspective. Scouts I talked to see Cyprien as an “in the box” player at the next level, but he will get the opportunity to display his range on deep ball drills at the combine. Remember, you don’t need 4.4 guys at the safety position. Anything in the 4.5 to 4.6 range sells when you find a safety that displays solid angles to the ball and shows some range from a deep middle of the field alignment. Let’s see how the FIU product compares to Kenny Vaccaro (Texas), Matt Elam (Florida) and Eric Reid (LSU) in Indianapolis.

Five more players that consistently showed up in my Senior Bowl notes…

– Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
– Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern
– Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
– Vance McDonald, TE, Rice
– Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

NFL combine: Time to answer some QB questions?

There are plenty of mixed opinions on the impact and the overall value of the NFL scouting combine. I get it. We will be talking about “measurables” for weeks (or months) after the combine, analyzing 40-yard dash times, the short shuttle, three-cone drill, etc.

Geno Smith US PRESSWIREGeno Smith and the rest of the top QB prospects will throw at the combine.

That’s before we get to the position work where these rookie prospects will go through stale (almost basic) drills that focus on footwork and technique. It doesn’t represent what you see on the tape and you can’t recreate game situations in shorts and Under Armour gear in Indianapolis.

But I still love the combine—because it puts stress on these prospects to work out and perform in front of the entire league.

I’ve been there myself as one of these rookie hopefuls back in 2000 at the combine (I will get into this more next week). You are tired, almost exhausted when this thing finally wraps up. It’s a grind.

Think of the combine as a job interview. Part of the process. Another tool for scouts, GMs, head coaches, etc. to evaluate your skill set.

And this year all of the QBs will be working out.

I like that. I like it a lot. And the reason is simple: I can’t tell you if there is a guy, a player in this class at the QB position that stands out.

When I was down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, I asked three different scouts who had the best week of practice—and I got three different answers (Nassib, Glennon, Manuel).

In Indianapolis, Matt Barkley and Geno Smith will work out and throw on the field. That’s smart. Both QBs skipped out on the Senior Bowl and now we get to evaluate their footwork, arm strength, accuracy, mechanics, etc. when they throw the entire route tree at the combine.

Go out there, throw and try to connect with wide outs you have never seen before while the entire NFL is watching every move you make. Part of the challenge of producing at the combine.

This is an opportunity for Barkley, Nassib, Smith and the rest of the 2013 QB class to create some buzz about their skill sets. Go ahead. Turn some heads. Make teams go back and study more tape after a top tier workout and try to create some separation at the top of the class before the Pro Day circuit picks up.

And I’m excited to see them throw.

NFL Playoffs revisited: Jones' TD grab vs. Broncos

Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.

Click here for the Cover 2 “cheat sheet.”

Over the weekend I was asked a question on Twitter: what is the toughest route to defend? That’s an easy one for any safety to answer: 4 Verticals. Why? Think of the stress the concept puts on Cover 2 (2-on-1 vs. the 2-deep safeties), Cover 3 (2-on-1 vs. the FS) or Cover 4 (SS, FS have to match and carry No.2 vertical from inside alignment).

Before we get into the All-22 tape and breakdown Joe Flacco’s last minute TD pass in regulation, here is a basic, static look at 4 Verts vs. Cover 2 on the chalkboard.

4 Verts vs. Cover 2: Posse Personnel (3WR-1TE-1RB)


A couple of quick notes…

– I have both CBs playing a standard Tampa 2 technique: jam and sink. You want to take some stress off the safety (jam, re-route No.1) and allow the deep half player to stay on top of his landmark (top of the numbers). Force an inside release, sink and trail No.1 (until threatened in the flat).

– Why do you want to force the inside release? If your CBs play with a “soft squat” (no jam, sink at the snap) and allow the WR to take a hard, outside stem it can widen the safety off the top of the numbers landmark. That opens up a clear throwing lane to the inside seam (No.2).

-The Mike (MLB) will open his hips to the “passing strength” (two WR side or open side of the formation), carry No.2 and read the QB (flip the hips to come back to closed side of the formation).

– The safeties have to gain enough depth to play over the top of No.1 and overlap any throw to the middle of the field. Remember, you want to see downhill angles from your safeties in Cover 2.

Let’s move over to the All-22 and check out why Jones was able to get free vs. Denver’s Cover 2…

Ravens vs. Broncos
Personnel: Posse (3WR-1TE-1RB)
Formation: Doubles (2×2)
Route Concept: 4 Verts
Defensive Scheme: Cover 2


– NFL offenses will run 4 Verts out of 2×2 alignment and a 3×1 alignment (called a “999” route with No.3 working back across the field). But given the game situation in Denver, this 2×2 alignment should be an automatic alert for 4 Verts from a defensive perspective. Both No.1 WRs will take an outside release (vs. a “soft squat” technique) with the TE and the open (weak) side slot WR pushing up the field on the inside seam routes. The RB will “check release” to the open side flat.

– The Broncos are playing Cover 2 out of their sub-package with a 3-Man rush. This looks similar to a scheme I call “Tent” of “Tent Robber” with the Mike (DB in the game) aligned deep off the ball and playing the inside vertical seam (alomst a 3-deep look). Both CBs will sink/trail under No.1 and the safeties will get depth.


– This is where SS Rahim Moore gets into trouble. With Flacco stepping up in the pocket, the Broncos safety opens his hips to No.2 (TE). Remember, he has help vs. No.2 with the Mike playing to the inside of the TE. Moore needs to stay square in his pedal and continue to gain depth. This is all about angles. Maintain depth and put yourself in a position to play over the top of both No.1 and No.2.


– Instead of taking a downhill angle on the throw (don’t break from the deep half until the QB throws the ball), Moore now has to flip his hips (called an open angle technique); transition and work back to No.1. That takes time and doesn’t allow Moore to create a positive angle to Jones on the deep 9 (fade) route.

Know the game situation

This is different than the chalkboard drawing I put up because the Broncos are protecting a lead late in the ball game with an opportunity to close it out. The dig, curl, comeback, etc. won't beat you in this situaiton–but the deep ball will. No need to gamble or guess as a deep half safety. However, the techniques of the defense don’t change at the safety position when playing Cover 2 vs. 4 Verts.

Can Rob Ryan bring immediate change to Saints?

Sit up straight. And bring a notebook.

ROB RYAN US PRESSWIRERob Ryan was hired for one reason: to fix the Saints' defense.

That’s my best advice for the members of the Saints' defense when they have their first meeting under new coordinator Rob Ryan later this spring.

Schemes are one thing. Ryan will install a new playbook when the Saints start their offseason workout program and begin to prep for OTAs, etc. A switch to the 3-4 front and a secondary that will be asked to play more blitz-man with the multiple pressure packages Ryan carries in his Sunday game plan.

But that’s just chalkboard stuff. Xs and Os. Plenty of time to check out the Cowboys’ tape from the 2012 season and figure out where the Saints need to add personnel via free agency and throughout the long and tiresome draft process.

However, the players (the ones that survive offseason cuts) have to realize that Ryan was hired because they didn’t produce. That’s it. In a league based on winning games above anything else, this Saints’ defense didn’t play football at an acceptable standard.

And now Ryan is coming in to change that.

I’ve been there as a player. Twice actually. Way back in 2001 Lovie Smith was hired in St. Louis and in 2004 it was Gregg Williams in Washington. Two new coordinators brought in because our defense didn’t past the test the season before.

Lovie and Gregg are different in their personalities and how they approach the game, but the goal was the same: fix the defense.

That starts in the first meeting. There are new demands, new rules and a new sense of accountability in the defensive team meeting room. Everything is going to change. Get on board or get out. It’s that simple in pro ball.

Can there be immediate change in New Orleans with Ryan running the defense? Sure, that’s possible. And it could happen. Under Lovie and Gregg, our defenses played faster and produced at a much higher level after just one offseason.

The Saints will eventually get on the practice field after the draft and run around in shorts and helmets. A dress rehearsal until real jobs are won in camp when the pads go on.

But until then, those early meetings with Ryan will be key to developing a new style of defense in New Orleans. And the players have to be ready to buy into much more than just the schemes being drawn up on the chalkboard.

NFL vets beware: the offseason cuts are coming

A phone call from an NFL head coach in February? Well, he isn’t calling to check in or ask about your family. Nope. That doesn’t happen in the pros.

Ahmad Bradshaw US PRESSWIREThe Giants cut veteran RB Ahmad Bradshaw on Wednesday.

You see, head coaches call veteran players after the season for only one reason: to let you go.

That’s right. You’re fired. Done. Finished. No more football for you in that city. Sit there on the phone for five to ten minutes and listen to the same speech that guys all over the league will hear this offseason.

The “tough” decision the coach had to make. Or the fact that the team “really values” your professional approach in the locker room. And maybe you will get the line that the club “might bring you back” later in the spring.

Sure, buddy. OK.

I’ve been there as a player—twice. And there is no perfect time for it.

Joe Gibbs called me up when I was getting off a plane in Vegas. And Dick Jauron let me know right as I was sitting down to eat dinner at my grandma’s house in Tampa (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I just got fired).

And it’s already started again in the NFL. On Wednesday, the Giants cut Ahmad Bradshaw and earlier in the week other players were informed that their contracts—the ones they signed for multiple years—were terminated.

I knew it was coming both times in the offseason during my career. Fact is I didn’t play well enough nor did I stay healthy. Accountability. That’s what I call it in the NFL.

No excuses needed. That was the truth.

But it still stings when you glance down at your phone, see a number that’s not in your contact list and then check out the area code. Hey, if that area code matches the city you play in, well, it’s not good news. I can tell you that.

No one wants to get cut. Whether you are about to grab a taxi over to the MGM Grand in Vegas or eat a home cooked meal at grandma’s place down in Florida, the idea of becoming a free agent can cause a sense of panic.

I know it did for me.

You call your agent, start the waiting game of finding a new club, pack up and move—again. And that only happens if you get some interest on the market after the top tier free agents sign their new deals.

As I have said many times before, this is a tough, tough business. And it’s cold. Really cold. We aren’t even a week removed from the final game of the season and guys are already getting cut.

But I will say this: it’s part of the job as a pro. And if you play long enough, that call is coming at some point.

Five NFL offseason storylines to keep an eye on

With the Ravens getting set to go through the parade circuit in Baltimore after their Super Bowl XLVII win, and the 2012 season behind us, here are five storylines to keep an eye on as the offseason begins. And there will be plenty more to get into once the NFL scouting combine kicks off later this month in Indy.

1. The Revis situation: Can the Jets really trade away the NFL’s top player at the CB position? Of course they can. Given his age (he will be 28 at the start of the season), the ACL injury and the new money he wants, I can see why New York would look to make a move and try to maximize his value. Would I trade away Revis? Nope. Not in today’s game where secondary play is crucial. But remember this: players are independent contractors in the NFL. And they will follow the money. It’s not easy to find a sense of loyalty between the locker room and management in the offseason.

2. Manti Te’o’s draft stock: It’s time to look at Te’o the football player. We all know the story of the “hoax” and the former Irish LB will have to answer some tough questions when he interviews with teams at the combine. However, his workouts in Indy will carry some weight. I talked to a longtime NFL scout last night that called the LB’s game tape “excellent” outside of the BCS title game, expected Te’o to test well at the combine and run the 40-yard dash in the 4.65-4.7 range. And the majority of scouts I've talked to have Te’o graded as a mid-to-late first round prospect. Let's see what he can do in front of the entire league at the combine later this month.

3. Flacco’s contract: I don’t think we can put Flacco in the same discussion with Brady, Rodgers or Brees, but look at the situation here. This is about opportunity. And in a contract year, the Ravens’ QB just put together a playoff run that is going to lead to legit money. $20-million a year? That’s a steep price. However, Flacco has leverage now after throwing 11 TDs and no interceptions on his way to scooping up a ring and the Super Bowl MVP award. That sells when it is time to discuss contracts. And Flacco deserves new money.

4. Chip Kelly, Michael Vick & the Eagles: I’m looking forward to checking out Kelly’s offensive system in the NFL because I want to see the type of adjustments he makes in the pro game. But who is going to play QB for the new Eagles’ head coach? Maybe Vick will take a pay cut. Maybe not. That remains to be seen as the offseason rolls on. If Kelly wants to run an offense with spread looks, movement, tempo, etc. I’m going to choose Vick over Nick Foles. But the money has to be right. And for all the hype surrounding Kelly’s hire in Philly, it still goes back to the QB position. Is it Vick, Foles, or a possible rookie draft pick? We will find out soon.

5. 2013 Rookie QB class: After the Senior Bowl week, I talked about the QBs down in Mobile. There wasn’t a clear-cut guy (an immediate impact player) you had to get on your roster. Does that mean Geno Smith and Matt Barkley are the top two QBs? This is a tough draft class to figure out at the QB position, and with multiple teams desperate to make an upgrade, we could see clubs reaching in the first round. And don’t forget about possible free agents such as Vick, Alex Smith or even a trade to get Matt Flynn out of Seattle. Not the year to fill a need at the position.

SB XLVII: Flacco, Ravens knock out the 49ers

Moving beyond the Superdome blackout, let’s get into the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. My game notes before I take a closer look at the All-22 tape later this week.

JOE FLACCO US PRESSWIREFlacco threw 3 TD passes and took home the MVP award from Super Bowl XLVII.

Flacco wins the MVP award: I can’t argue with Flacco taking home the trophy after his production tonight (22-37-287-3TDs). He was able to navigate the pocket, work the TE position in the middle of the field, make throws in the red zone and protect the football. And I love the confidence to check to the back-shoulder fade on 3rd and short late in the game. Throughout this playoff run, Flacco was consistent in his play at the QB position throwing 11 TDs and zero interceptions. Not bad for a guy that is going to get paid big money in a contract year.

The “no-call” in the red zone: I will always come to the defense of the secondary when we talk about physical play and some contact on the release (or through the route stem). However, I can see why Jim Harbaugh had a serious issue on the fade route to Michael Crabtree vs. Jimmy Smith. As a DB, you can get away with a hold if you keep your hands inside of the shoulder pads from a press-alignment. But when you grab outside of those pads (as we saw with Smith on the release), that’s a call the refs probably should make. Rough night all around for the officiating crew down in New Orleans.

Ravens’ Cover 0 pressure: In two key situations (2 point play and the 4th down fade route), Baltimore played “zero-pressure.” Think of man-pressure with no safety help in the middle of the field. That’s smart football. Play with inside leverage and force the QB to throw the slant or the fade. This allows you to dictate the game situation from a defensive perspective.

49ers’ red zone play calling: San Francisco had something going when they burned a timeout on 3rd down (QB Counter Lead) in that final series, but I have to question the play coming off the timeout (quick flat route out of a bunch alignment) and the 2nd down call to run the Flat-7 (Sprint action). That’s a situation where you can throw inside breaking routes (Hi-Lo for example) or line up and go with the base downhill run schemes before throwing the fade on 4th down.

Kaepernick: The 49ers’ QB didn’t look comfortable early in that ballgame. He was late on some of his reads and missed on the deep inside cut to Randy Moss. However, he played with much more control as the game progressed. Look at the 3-level route concepts, the dig routes, the reads he made on the option scheme and the ability to break contain. The young QB put up big numbers (16-302-1TD-1INT; 7-62-1TD) in the loss.

Jacoby Jones: Can you make a case for Jones to win the MVP award? The kickoff return for a score and the double-move vs. Chris Culliver were two plays that we will remember from this Super Bowl. And the finish on the TD catch was just as good as the route.

The TE position: Production from both clubs. Pitta, Dickson, Davis and Walker. And it was Walker that also showed up in the run game plus covering kicks on special teams. Think matchups here when we talk about the TE position and the ability to beat Cover 1 (man-free) or work vs. LBs in both 2-Man and zone schemes.

Boldin shows up again: It’s been the same drill all post-season for Boldin in the red zone. Inside alignment, work the seam or the middle of the field. On the TD catch, Boldin stemmed his route to the Mike Backer (creates a one-on-one matchup) and then finished up the field vs. Cover 2. We could also look at the back-shoulder fade on 3rd down, the quick underneath concepts or the ability to convert a broken play with Flacco outside of the pocket. The key with Boldin: strong at the point of attack. He has no issues climbing the ladder and taking the ball away from a DB.

Pitta’s TD: Why did SS Donte Whitner jump outside vs. the TE in the red zone? Think like a DB here expecting to see the 7 (corner) route. Whitner over-played the route, worked to an outside alignment and that allowed Pitta to sit down in the end zone. It doesn’t have to be complicated inside of the red zone.

Ray Lewis gets another ring: I know the veteran LB didn’t have a great night. Lewis struggled to match up to Vernon Davis and he didn’t produce any impact plays throughout the game. But he retires with two Super Bowl rings—and he’s going to Canton. 17 years. That’s a heck of a career.

Super Bowl XLVII: Five things to watch

Let’s get into some personnel, matchups and game plans as we look ahead to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Here are five things I will be watching on Sunday night when the 49ers and Ravens take the championship stage.

Colin Kaepernick US PRESSWIREKaepernick and the 49ers will run multiple schemes from the Pistol formation.

1. 49ers’ Pistol formation: I would expect the 49ers to test the discipline of the Ravens’ defense with Colin Kaepernick in the Read Option scheme, but we also have to remember that Jim Harbaugh's offense will run the Power O, Counter OF, etc. from the Pistol formation. And that leads to play action opportunities. Think of schemes that will test the run/pass keys of the Ravens’ back seven and put some stress on the linebackers. Can’t stick your eyes in the backfield and expect to take away the intermediate route tree vs. play action.

2. The tight end position: How will these two defenses game plan Vernon Davis and Dennis Pitta? The 49ers' TE has been targeted during the playoff run on the Hi-Lo concepts, the deep 7 cut, seam, wheel, etc. With Pitta, we are looking at a tight end that is underrated from my perspective and a key part of the Ravens’ offense inside of the numbers. We could see some 2-Man on Sunday night and that puts the LBs in a tough spot to matchup vs. the TE position. There will be opportunities for both Davis and Pitta to make impact plays.

3. Aldon Smith’s production: Smith hasn’t recorded a sack over the last five games and the 49ers need that production to collapse the pocket vs. Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco. With Smith drawing the matchup vs. Bryant McKinnie, the OLB must lean on speed and the ability to set up the Ravens’ LT. Can’t beat McKinnie with straight power moves. Smith has to get the LT off-balance, attack the edges and put the QB on the ground.

4. Safety play: Physical safeties that will put a helmet on you. That’s what I see with Reed, Pollard, Goldson and Whitner. All four will hit and they play the position with a physical style that shows up when you turn on the film. On Sunday night, watch for their ability to drive on inside breaking routes, add to the blitz front and drop down to fill vs. the run. And in a matchup where the tempo could be dictated by the run game, these safeties will be key to limiting plays that break to the second level of the defense.

5. Boldin vs. Rogers: This is the matchup I would expect to see when the Ravens move Boldin inside with their Posse personnel (3WR-1TE-1RB) on the field. The WR has been productive throughout the post-season in the red zone because of the ability to win on the release and stack on DBs within the route stem. But that’s why I like the idea of the 49ers using Rogers. The CB is physical, will use his hands on the release and can match Boldin in pressure situations. Limiting Boldin on 3rd downs and in the red zone will be crucial.

All-22: How 49ers use 'waste motion' to create matchups

Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.

Previous All-22 breakdowns:

Ravens’ defensive pressure looks
49ers’ Pistol offense (run game)
Anquan Boldin’s red zone impact
49ers’ Inverted Veer scheme

I wanted to take a quick look at one way the 49ers create matchups in the passing game using “waste motion” to target the deep 7 (corner) route. A concept/formation that has shown up all season on the 49ers’ tape with their Regular personnel (2WR-1TE-2RB) in the game. Widen the defense (both zone and man schemes) and get the matchup of TE Vernon Davis vs. a LB or SS in coverage on an outside breaking route.

Personnel: Regular (2WR-1TE-2RB)
Formation: Doubles Slot
Route: Smash-7


What is “waste motion?” Offenses will motion the F/H-Back from a 2-back set to a No.1 alignment. The idea is to widen the CB in Cover 1 or Cover 3 (3-deep, 4-under) and work the ball to No.2 vs. a favorable matchup. Remember, the F/H-Back aligned as the new No.1 isn’t getting the ball. His job is to fill up space, remove the CB and allow the QB to target No.2 on the 7 or seam.


The CB is now removed (Cover 1) and plays over the top of the new No.1 (F). This gives the 49ers the matchup they want: Davis vs. a LB in press-coverage. Win at the line, stem to the outside and push the route vertically up the field.


With the LB stuck in a trail position (and the FS working from a deep middle of the field alignment), Davis can break to the 7 route. An easy read for QB Colin Kaepernick to target the 49ers’ TE.


End zone angle of the finish from Davis. A basic scheme (Smash-7) that we see every Sunday in the NFL with some added window dressing of pre-snap “waste motion” to set up the ideal matchup for the 49ers.