How the New Orleans Saints defense should slow down the 49ers’ offense
The run game
One of the main differences between Shanahan’s scheme and the original west coast offense is that Shanahan runs the ball much more frequently- only the Ravens run more often than the 49ers.
The foundation of the run game, and really of the whole offense, is the outside or wide zone. Outside zone runs are very prevalent throughout the NFL, including the Saints, who mostly use with Kamara- Murray is usually used on gap scheme runs.
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The outside zone game utilizes the skillsets of not only the 49ers’ running backs but also of their offensive linemen, which is definitely the main reason why Shanahan brought in players like Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Weston Richburg.
Something that separates Shanahan’s run scheme from most others is his use of deception and the use of a fullback.
A good example of Shanahan’s creative run play design was a play against the Panthers earlier in the season when Garoppolo faked a toss to the RB, then faked a jet sweep, and only then handed it off to Deebo Samuel who ran in for an untouched touchdown- I expect the 49ers to have some exotic run plays in their game plan for the Saints.
The 49ers are tied with the Vikings in their use of 21 personnel- 20 percent of the time. 21 personnel is two RBs and one TE. The Saints use 21 personnel 13% of the time, which is pretty high. They usually have one of their halfbacks (Mostert, Breida or Coleman) with Kyle Juscyk, the best fullback in the league, lined up in front of them.
An interesting thing to do while watching the game is to follow Kyle Juscyk as the run usually goes in his direction.