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San Diego Chargers First Team Offense Impressive Against 49ers

Kyle Posey analyzes the San Diego Chargers offense, going play by play to explain what went well and what didn't in Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Thearon W. Henderson

Like yesterday's defensive breakdown, today I'll go over how the San Diego Chargers first team performed.

What You'll See

I'll give you the down and distance, which yard-line the ball is placed, what formations the offense and defense were in, the result of the play, and a short analysis of what happened during the play.

The offensive formations are denoted by [# of backs] [# of tight ends] and if applicable, shotgun.

The defensive formations are denoted by [# of DL] [# of LBs] and [# of DBs if >4]

First Series

1st and 10; SD 24; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 3-4; Ryan Mathews right tackle for 7 yards

San Diego comes out in their base personnel(ran this formation 73% of the time last year) and run inside zone. Johnnie Troutman is uncovered and fails to get the 2nd level LB. Mathews cuts it back(!) for a good gain. Had Troutman been able to block the linebacker who made the tackle it's likely a double digit gain.

2nd and 3; SD 31; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 3-4; Philip Rivers completes to Keenan Allen for gain of 16

Chargers go no huddle so the 49ers can't substitute. The 1st passing concept is Mike McCoy's patent switch route. Allen settles down in the zone, makes the 1st man miss, and turns it upfield for a big gain. Good blocking up front on this quick hitting pass.

1st and 10; SD 46; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 4-2-5; Rivers completes to Antonio Gates for gain of 7

No huddle again, this time San Fran gets to sub in an extra defensive back. 2 defenders go with Mathews to the flat, leaving Gates wide open over the middle of the field. Easy read for Rivers. Another quick pass with good blocking up front.

2nd and 3; SF 47; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 4-2-5; Mathews right tackle for gain of 1

Chargers run a draw play and Troutman misses his 2nd block of the drive as his man makes the tackle for a gain of 1. Not great efforts from Nick Hardwick or Antonio Gates, either. But the play has no chance with the blown block by Troutman.

3rd and 2; SF 45; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 4-2-5; Rivers completes to Mathews for gain of 1

San Diego comes out in a trips formation to the bottom of the screen with Allen isolated to the top. 2 quick outs, 1 by Mathews to the boundary, and Royal to the wide side. Rivers choses Mathews and the safety makes a great open field tackle to prevent the 1st down. Royal was open for the 1st, but can't really fault Rivers there. Hat tip to the safety.

4th and 1 in the opponents territory with one of the best offenses in the league and you punt. Seriously. Mid season form, Mike. To compound the mistake, the punt only made it to the 15 yard line.

Second Series

1st and 10; SF 14; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4 stack; Donald Brown right guard for gain of 2

Inside zone out of an I-formation with twin receivers to the right. New fullback(tight end/H-back/whatever you want to call him) David Johnson with a great block on Patrick Willis. However, the nose tackle does a good job of driving Hardwick down the line so he can clog the running lane. Another missed block by Troutman as his man spins off his block and makes the tackle. Not a good endorsement so far.

2nd and 8; SF 12; O-Form 12 gun; D-Form 3-4; Rivers completes to Brown for gain of 5

My favorite formation. A 2 tight end pistol set. Your options are endless out of this formation and you have your 5 most dangerous weapons on the field. Both tight ends run corner routes, Malcom Floyd runs a post, and Allen runs a drag route. Rivers has plenty of time, but dumps it off to Brown who is six yards behind the line of scrimmage. Brown breaks the 1st tackle and turns it into a nice gain of 5.

3rd and 3: SF 7; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 3-4; Rivers complete to Danny Woodhead for gain of 2

One of their bread and butter routes from a year ago. Chargers have trips to the top of the screen, and Gates is isolated to the bottom with Woodhead in the backfield to his side. Gates runs a slant and Woodhead runs an angle route where we usually see him make the catch for the 1st down. Had Rivers not been locked in, he had 85 wide open for the easy first.

Inline image 1

Woodhead was stopped shy of the first.

4th and 1; SF 6; O-Form Goal line; D-Form Goal line; Mathews left tackle for no gain

Questionable call here. Stretch zone to Gates' side. This would mean Gates has to be able to move his man in some sort of way. It doesn't happen, Johnson runs out to block Gates' man, Mathews is forced to cut back to the pursuing tacklers, it's 1 on 2 and he gets stuffed. Great call to go for it. Math tells you that this is the right call. You can't second guess yourself based on the result. If they run it literally any other direction it's a first down. Mathews might even get it if he stays outside. I'm sure this was a tough one for them to swallow.

Third Series

1st and 10; SD 29; O-Form 13; D-Form 3-4; Rivers incomplete to Green

Love everything about this play. The formation is a singleback set with all 3 tight ends lined up to the same side. It's a play action pass and Rivers takes a shot deep to Green. Green has a step on the corner and Rivers just under throws him which allows the DB to get his hands in there and break it up. Great play call on 1st down.

2nd and 10; SD 29; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Mathews right end for 14 yards

No huddle again. Another great call but poor execution. It's a power play to the weak side of the formation. Dunlap gets pushed back into the backfield, we rarely see that from him. Johnson flies in wildly and misses the LB. Mathews shows off his balance, keeps his footing, and bounces it for a big gain.

1st and 10; SD 43; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 4-2-5; Brown right tackle for gain of 3

Another non huddle, another draw play. The right side doesn't get any push and Gates with a laugh out loud whiff of a block. Brown is lucky to get 3 here.

2nd and 7; SD 46; O-Form 12 gun; D-Form 3-4; Brown left tackle for gain of 2

Another stretch zone to Gates' side. I'm already over this. He misses the block entirely and Brown does a good job of avoiding the tackle for loss. He then just makes a break to the sideline to gain a couple.

3rd and 5; SD 48; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 4-2-5; Rivers complete to Gates for gain of 11

No huddle once more. Great pass protection up front. Gates, being guarded by an undrafted free agent, with a nice subtle push off to get open. Rivers throws the ball before Antonio is out of his break and it's an absolute dime. My goodness. Couldn't have placed it anywhere else.

1st and 10; SF 41; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Woodhead up the middle for 2

The two tight ends are Johnson and John Phillips. Both are paired to the left. Floyd isn't able to cut off the blitzing safety in time, but Woodhead makes him miss in the backfield. He then cuts upfield to get what he can.

2nd and 8; SF 39; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Woodhead up the middle for 5 yards

Surprise surprise, no huddle. Green checks in for Johnson. It's an inside zone and center Rich Ohrnberger mauls the nose tackle a good 4 yards downfield. Chad Rinehart reaches the 2nd level nicely as Troutman gets a push as well. This ones all on the line.

3rd and 3; SF 34; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 3-4; Rivers complete to Woodhead for gain of 9

No huddle, again. Rivers sees blitz and checks to another play. Woodhead sneaks out of the backfield as his man gets caught in no mans land between him and the quarterback. More good protection from the line.

1st and 10; SF 25; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Rivers complete to Mathews for gain of 14

Chargers look to take another shot here, but Rivers doesn't like what he sees. More solid protection but after a few seconds Rivers flees the pocket. Mathews slips downfield and Rivers hits him on the run for a would be touchdown. Allen blocks a guy in the back that had no chance to make the play. Could be a costly penalty. Ball is now spotted on the 10 yard line.

1st and Goal; SF 10; O-Form 11 gun; D-Form 4-2-5; Rivers complete to Gates for 10 yard touchdown

Trips to the top of the screen, Allen isolated in a tight split to the bottom. This is the route where they try to get Allen on a corner route. Rivers has 2 options that are wiideee open. Royal on an out route in the flat after a rub route from Floyd. He also has Gates isolated on a terrible safety. Gates makes a great head fake to the outside, breaks to the post and it's free money for Rivers.


How's this for numbers. San Diego averaged eleven yards per play in their 3 drives. It's too bad they only had 1 score to show for it. The punting inside your own territory thing is going to annoy all of us all season. Loved the 4th down decision, hated the play call.

I'm guessing here, but Gates the receiver>Gates the politician>Gates the run blocker. In 7 run snaps Gates missed 3 blocks that could've all been drive killers had the backs not made their man miss.

Is Troutman just keeping the seat warm for 3rd round pick Chris Watt? Not a great start for him. I wonder how long they roll with him because San Diego will be facing some very good interior lineman early on in the season. The problem I had with Watt coming out was that he fell off of blocks. That hasn't been the case in these 2 games. Very smart, very aware. Really a perfect fit for the offense.

Rivers is so fun to watch. We get to see him checking to different plays and it's rarely the wrong play. He's so smart, so good. No, he's great. It's common sense to expect the offense to regress a little but when 17 is rolling like this, they're the only ones that can stop themselves.