Cowboys-49ers is the last word NFL chess match between Kyle Shanahan and Dan Quinn

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will at all times be linked.

Sure, they’re the primary architects of one of many greatest downfalls in NFL historical past (look away, Falcons followers). Quinn was the pinnacle coach and Shanahan was the quarterback who elevated then-Falcons QB Matt Ryan to the MVP stage. Then it grew to become 28-3, Shanahan moved to San Francisco, and Quinn was ultimately fired earlier than taking a coordinating job with the Dallas Cowboys.

Now the 2 are the brains behind some of the spectacular people on both aspect of the ball. You may take a look at any metrics or rankings and you will find San Francisco close to the highest of the league on offense and Dallas close to the highest on protection. DVOA? The 49ers rank sixth in offense and the Cowboys rank second in protection (behind the 49ers, after all). EPA/play? The Niners are fourth on offense and Dallas are second on protection.

It is going to be good for good, however we have seen it just lately. The 49ers entered Dallas and defeated the Cowboys 24-17 in Wild Card final 12 months. So, how a lot has modified since then for each Shanahan and Quinn’s respective models?

Nicely, loads.

San Francisco destroys groups in 21

Kyle Shanahan and 21 employees could also be the most effective partnership with 21 in him since her loss fell in November 2022. At 21 employees (2 defenders, often RB and FB, 1 TE and a couple of WR), the 49ers are within the high two staff within the EPA exterior of the 2022 common season coaching camp, however that was one thing the Shanahan 49ers had been aiming for, even final 12 months. It is a staff of 21, and when Shanahan can try this, he often crushes the opponent’s protection.

The primary distro of 12

Recreation Phrases in 21 employees It operates with 21 employees Phrases in 12 employees It operates in 12 personnel EPA / twenty first cross EPA / run in 21 EPA/Cross in 12 EPA / run in 12
Recreation Phrases in 21 employees It operates with 21 employees Phrases in 12 employees It operates in 12 personnel EPA / twenty first cross EPA / run in 21 EPA/Cross in 12 EPA / run in 12
2021 vs Dallas 7 12 4 3 0.068 -0.25 -0.59 0.15
2021 166 209 33 59 0.139 -0.04 -0.24 -0.14
2022 earlier than McCaffrey Commerce 34 62 20 20 0.305 -0.28 -0.724 -0.01
2022 after the McCaffrey commerce 110 132 45 82 0.088 0.1 0.4 -0.04

Since being traded to Christian McCaffrey, Shanahan has fomented Madame Mim’s nefarious plans for the 49ers’ 21-man offensive. When McCaffrey, FB Kyle Juszczyk, WR Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, and TE George Kittle are on the sphere, the 49ers have the NFL equal of MonStars, and any participant is able to making an enormous recreation at any time.

Coupled with that’s Shanahan’s recreation design on this employees and the way he causes issues in comparison with opposing defenses. Towards 21 personnel, the protection should keep of their heavier defensive packs to mitigate the specter of a operating recreation. Nevertheless, how is the protection even making an attempt to defend like this:

Sure, it’s Christian McCaffrey who has positioned broad whereas WR Deebo Samuel is positioned in RB. It is each Madden participant’s dream, however Shanahan brings it to life. With San Francisco at 21, the Nines match that with their fundamental protection: 3-4 with each inside-backs on the sphere. The nines had been operating out of the zone with an arrow hooked up to it (slant backwards). The skin defender can not pursue Samuel as a result of risk posed by McCaffrey within the cross. Makes life simpler for Deebo Samuel.

Once more, the Nines are 21 right here, however this time they’re armed with a shotgun. Samuel is again within the again room and McCaffrey is on the receiver. They run the motion of the sport and McCaffrey runs into the condo, however watch what the gravity of McCaffrey and all these gamers do to the Seahawks protection. They’re in cowl 2, however when McCaffrey runs to the condo, the nook is so onerous. Brandon Aiyuk deletes 12 security on the pitch and Juszczyk holds the defender down with a hook within the center. This leaves George Kittle broad open within the center.

The assault spacing of 21 provides Brock Purdy’s QB straightforward throws to make and execute, making his life simpler.

Shanahan has been doing his greatest in Atlanta since 2016, coaching and designing an offensive recreation, however as an alternative of beating groups with 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) as he did with the Falcons, he makes use of his distinctive gamers into heavier formations to reap the benefits of duels. Apparently, towards Dallas final 12 months, the Niners had much more 11-man employees: much less 21-12. Nevertheless, this staff did not have Christian McCaffrey or this model of Brandon Aiyuk.

Official apology to Dan Quinn

I will be trustworthy: I wasn’t utterly offered on the fixes Dan Quinn’s DC Cowboys shall be making this season. Members of the Seattle Seahawks tree, final 12 months the Cowboys had been nearly completely a single, high-mid-level, tight-knit staff. Nevertheless, this 12 months that has modified. Though the Cowboys nonetheless play a whole lot of Cowl 1 (male, single excessive protection) again then, they moved away from heavy protection in Cowl 3.

Dallas dominating protection

12 months MOFC latches MOFO snaps Snap fasteners for males Zone protection snaps Lightning pace Stress coefficient
12 months MOFC latches MOFO snaps Snap fasteners for males Zone protection snaps Lightning pace Stress coefficient
2021 343 164 227 159 29.10% 36.50%
2022 268 189 172 131 25.60% 40.70%

After all, having a superhuman like Micah Parsons in your room will assist loads, however Cowboys are extraordinarily good at utilizing their employees to cowl vary and ship stress from totally different areas, therefore the upper stress charge with decrease lightning pace. Quinn makes use of Parsons as a queen on the board, discovering fast one-on-one passing alternatives for him whereas additionally utilizing the eye he attracts to open doorways for different defenders.

On this recreation towards Tampa, the Cowboys are on a 5-man staff, however Parsons is off the ball (he was off the ball fairly a bit within the recreation towards Tampa) and regular guards Leighton Vander Esch and Anthony Barr are on edge. The offensive line wants to guard this to account for each man on the road of scrimmage. This implies RB has to face Parsons if he assaults…not a terrific concept however Tom Brady is aware of this so will attempt to throw a scorching tour.

Nevertheless, Quinn pulls each LBs on the sting into passing vary and solely brings down Parsons, who detonates on the BR, forcing Brady off the platform and failing to complete.

What helps this Cowboys protection is the variety of versatile gamers additionally they have within the backfield. That is from the beginning of the season towards the Commanders and the Cowboys lead Tampa 2, a canopy with two deep protections, two flat defending corners and a middle runner in midfield. The place Quinn turns into versatile, he makes use of his DBs in varied positions akin to CB Israel Mukuamu. Mukuamu is the mid runner right here, and S Donovan Wilson appears to be like like he is falling right into a gap like in a single excessive gaze. The Cowboys fall into Tampa 2 and are intercepted.

Dan Quinn’s potential to scout on his personal as a coach and adapt has taken the Cowboys’ protection to the highest and put them ready the place they’ll clinch second place within the NFC. The well being of Jayron Kearse S and Parsons shall be big on Sunday, but when each are match they need to be the primary gamers.

The important thing to the sport

The important thing to the sport rests on the shoulders of QB Brock Purdy. Whereas he was sensational in his time as a beginning QB, it was unusual how small the groups put stress on him, particularly when a guide about QB Jimmy Garoppolo was about to shock him. Purdy did fairly properly in accordance with the info towards lightning, however once more, this pattern measurement is tiny.

Though Purdy was superb, he’s nonetheless a novice and will be fooled by lightning bolts that he merely can not see or really feel. Not like Garoppolo, Purdy is not afraid to make use of his legs to keep away from stress, however as soon as he is out of his pocket… I am unsure what occurs.

What Dan Quinn does an excellent job of isn’t just placing the stress on, but in addition hiding it to make one factor appear to be one other and free the man with out pulling the entire home down.

The chess recreation between Kyle Shanahan and Dan Quinn on Sunday isn’t just a 12 months, however a few years. Their growth since their days in Atlanta shall be on full show on Sunday, with the NFC Championship recreation on the road.

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