The Niners came out on Sunday and really took control of the game early. Each teams’ first two drives:
- Niners: 24 plays, 120 yards, 3 points, and one missed FG.
- Giants: 9 plays, 24 yards, 2 punts.
The Niners came out on their 3rd possession, tried to step on the Giants’ throats, and made a mistake. In the game preview, I talked about how they were able to hit on wheel routes and double moves to the TEs in the NFC Championship Game last year. After keeping the Giants on the field for 24 plays in the first quarter alone, the Niners sniffed a chance to take a shot down the field on the first play of that third drive. They went right back to the double move with the TE, except Antrel Rolle outsmarted QB Alex Smith.
Before the snap, Rolle will come down from his safety spot into the box:
The Giants are in zone on this play, and Rolle’s responsibility will be the short flat area, noted below:
Pre-snap, the Niners will send Delanie Walker in motion to the right, and Rolle will follow him, as if to show man coverage, but as noted above, the Giants are in zone:
Walker will then stop, turn, motion back to the left, and re-set. Rolle is now showing that he is firmly engaged in man coverage on Walker, as he is staring him down:
Walker is running an out and up. So when Walker fakes his out route, Rolle jumps that route, as it’s in his zone anyway:
Walker cuts upfield, and Alex Smith thinks that Walker has burned Rolle’s man coverage:
Smith fires, but unfortunately for him, Prince Amukamara, Stevie Brown, and Corey Webster each have deep third responsibility:
…and Amukamara is in the right place. Look at Rolle already celebrating the play he just made before Amukamara even intercepts this:
Aaaaaand Amukamara makes the easy pick:
And the Niners bench is sad:
This was a very subtle, veteran play by Rolle, who is doing a much better job so far this year mastering the safety position.