Before the NFC Championship game, we noted in our final thoughts about how to attack San Francisco in the run game:
“The strength of the 49ers is their inside game. Willis. Justin Smith. Bowman. Don’t bother trying to go crazy running in between the tackles.”
The Giants handed off the ball 25 times. Here is the breakdown:
INSIDE RUN- 22 times
OUTSIDE RUN- 3 times
There were 4 inside runs where there was absolutely nothing, and the runner (pretty sure it was Bradshaw all four times) had no choice but to kick it outside where there was more opportunity. Those four runs netted 2 yds, 7 yds, 9 yds, and 8 yds. The Giants netted 6.5 yds per carry on these runs. If you subtract these 4 runs, that leaves 21 runs for 61 total yards, or 2.9 yards per carry. Most of these runs were right into the teeth of the defense. In fact, if the balls run inside weren’t run outside, the numbers running inside would have been worse.
Here is the problem- when 88% of the time you are running inside, there is a lack of balance. Predictability becomes the norm. That gives the defense an easier time in playing for tendency. Running the ball outside a little more would have spread the defense out and made the inside run more effective as well.
Let’s ask the converse question- how would you have felt if the Giants attempted to run the ball outside 22 out of 25 times? The answer is that it would have been just as poor and predictable, even if it was indeed to the preferred area of the field. You must spread the field and keep defenses guessing.
The Giants passed the ball 58 times, well more than the 25 times they ran the ball. While the Giants amount of pass was lopsided, the Niners did have to honor the run. But they certainly didn’t have to honor the outside run.
The message is that an offense cannot do ANYTHING 88% of the time, or else the defense will be given an advantage. This isn’t Einstein. This is just the common sense of not doing the same thing over and over again 22 times during the game and expecting a different result. We all know that you can “soften up” a defense by running it and wearing them down. But don’t do it to the total exclusion of surprise.