Film breakdown: Antrel Rolle outsmarted Alex Smith on Prince Amukamara’s interception on Sunday

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.

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  1. […] for 2 FG attempts, and missed one of them.  Then Alex Smith made the first mistake of the game, as chronicled in depth here, and they completely lost control of that […]

  2. […] mais il est aussi à l’origine de la première interception du match par Prince Amukamara comme le montre cette excellente analyse de l’action. Rolle dit même avoir coaché Prince durant la semaine sur la défense de zone: “C’était […]

  3. […] we looked at Antrel Rolle and his great job of disguising zone coverage before the snap, which led to an interception by Prince […]

  4. Trueblue63 says:

    Really well done, tips hat.

  5. Thiergow says:

    Finally a post which isn’t only about Philly, yayyy \o/
    Great breakdown, thanks 😉 hope you will study sequences from the Cowboys game and the Redskins game too. Both had interesting sequences IMO.

  6. Arnal says:

    This is purely AWESOME information and break down ! Thank you for the information and sharing how the D worked on this play !!!!

      1. willgfass says:


  7. Jimmy, I went to tweet you this morning about Castillo and remembered that you blocked me for some stupid reason. I was going to say that atleast the Eagles can salvage their season by this change, where in 2009 the Giants waited until they went 8-8 and out of the playoffs after a 5-0 start and a defensive collapse…. waste of a season. Takes a lot to admit your mistakes and let go of a guy that fit really well as OL coach, but enough was enough. He was your Bill Sheridan.

    In any case, go Giants.

    1. I really value my twitter followers, especially the ones that reply to stuff. And so, I’ve blocked maybe 5 or 6 people on Twitter. I don’t remember what it was either, but you’d have to be over-the-top annoying to get blocked.

      1. SteveH says:

        He kept asking if you and Mrs. Kempski were interested in alternative lifestyles. I’d have blocked him too Jimmy.

  8. peter says:

    i wouldnt say he mastered the safety position just yet

    he had brutal deep coverage on that big moss play

  9. Kurt says:

    Is that Brandon Jacobs on the sideline?

    1. Ha, just had this discussion on Twitter. We settled on no, as Jacobs was apparently wearing something different in a picture with Eli.

  10. ct17 says:

    Boley said the Giants practiced defending that play all week.

    This is a QB league. If you don’t have a great QB, every game is up for grabs. And if you have a great QB, you can win any game.

    1. Yeah, it certainly looks like they practiced for it. Doesn’t surprise me at all, considering that was the main play that burned them last year.

  11. deg0ey says:

    Wow…that’s impressive. What would Rolle have done if Walker had continued to move across and then stayed on the other side of the formation, though? If he follows, then he’s on the wrong side to get into his zone.

    1. At some point he’d stop following, and the Niners would know they’re in zone.

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