Enter the Film Room: Denver Broncos vs San Francisco 49ers

4 of 11

Broncos passing game vs San Francisco 49ers coverage

The Broncos have one of, if not the, best passing offense in the NFL. If they can give their QB’s time, they should be able to carve up a mediocre coverage unit from the 49ers. There are some key areas they can exploit to give their passing game an edge.

Against the Ravens, the 49ers played a lot of soft coverage, giving plenty of space for the Ravens WR’s to move and catch the ball.

Here you can see that the Ravens WR, has a good five yards of open space from the nearest defender. Not only that, but if you look at the top left, another receiver has about three yards of space. Giving the Broncos WRs that kind of space is downright deadly.

Here is another look at the same play. Only #20 had a quick reaction to the play and was able to make the stop. Wes Welker is excellent at finding the soft point in a defense. If they give him space, he will sit in the open spot and wait for the catch. If they give Demaryius Thomas that kind of space, he will make the catch turn up field and use his moves for a big gain, if not a touchdown. There are plenty of ways the Broncos can exploit the soft coverage the 49ers used against the Ravens.

Another way is, use play-action. When the Ravens used a play-action, the 49ers bit, opening up some holes in the defense. Their recover ability was not great, leaving a TE to exploit and open middle. A couple of the linebackers in particular, struggled with recovering from a play-action.

Despite those, there is one area the Broncos need to watch out for, especially when they are playing soft coverage. A couple of the defensive backs have excellent breaking speed. If the Broncos QB stares down the receiver, or is off on their throw, they will notice and use their speed to break on the ball. The Broncos QB’s must, and I emphasis must, look off the defender.

The last thing they can do, is somewhat of a specialty for Peyton Manning. Using the play count to draw a flag. Also needed is awareness by the offensive linemen. Against the Ravens, 49ers jumped into the neutral zone, but they led to no flags because the offensive linemen were not aware and didn’t jump to draw the flag. Use that hard count, get them to jump.