Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Sep 2009

ESPN Any Given Sunday: 49ers Over Cardinals

by Vince Verhei

The linked article focuses on Arizona's new aggressive look on defense, and how San Francisco's defense limited the Cardinals to a never-ending series of checkdowns to Tim Hightower. Hightower finished with 12 catches for 121 yards, both career highs, but was it really a good day for him?

The short answer is yes; Hightower caught those 12 passes on 14 targets, with just two incompletions, and his receiving DVOA for the day was 54.2%. He produced five first downs. But looking at his targets one by one, The picture is not so rosy.

Tim Hightower's Targets vs. San Francisco
Down Distance Yard line Complete? Yards Gained First Down?
3 1 SF 27 complete 23 FD
1 15 SF 43 complete 15 FD
1 10 ARI 40 complete 14 FD
1 10 SF 46 complete 13 FD
3 9 ARI 35 complete 10 FD
1 10 ARI 12 complete 9
3 16 ARI 5 complete 9
2 15 SF 33 complete 7
1 25 ARI 47 complete 7
3 9 ARI 9 complete 5
2 9 SF 36 complete 5
3 8 ARI 31 complete 4
4 5 SF 33 incomplete 0
3 9 SF 25 incomplete 0

Only half those plays met our criteria for Successful Plays (40 percent of yards needed on first down, 60 percent on second down, 100 percent on third and fourth down). Looking closer at the numbers, Hightower was much better on first down (80 percent Success Rate) than on third or fourth downs (29 percent Success Rate). Hightower has good hands and works well in space; it might be in Arizona's best interests to keep him involved as a receiver on first downs.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 15 Sep 2009

10 comments, Last at 18 Sep 2009, 7:56am by bubqr


by James-London :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:38pm

Haven't read it, (I'm another one of the priced-out foreigners club), but if you're writing AGS Vince, what's Ned up to?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:41pm

Ned is too busy lawyering to do a regular column this year. He'll still be around for Audibles and the book.

by bubqr :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 7:02pm

Hightower : What I thought was the best player of my loser league team...

by Dan :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 8:16pm

It was a bad week for LL RBs. Hightower, Cedric Benson, Jamal Lewis, Julius Jones, Thomas Jones, Derrick Ward, and Fred Taylor all had at least 100 yfs or a td. Willie Parker owners are celebrating, though.

by Red Hedgehog :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 9:51pm

Same. :(

by Strange/David (not verified) :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 10:53am

When did Any Given Sunday turn into an ESPN Insiders column? Very sad that I can't read this.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 1:49pm

Full story here

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 11:25am

Our FO boys are growing up and being successful. It's enough to break an old-time reader's heart. *sniff*

I'm sorry I can't read it, either. A lot of interesting things happened in that game (albeit between two teams not likely to be very important) and I haven't read any good analysis of it.

by Tim Gerheim :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 2:02pm

I'd be curious what the chart of Hightower's catches looked like arranged chronologically. Was there any pattern, like getting less effective as the game wore on and the defense adjusted, for example?

by bubqr :: Fri, 09/18/2009 - 7:56am

When I saw Hightower rushing numbers, I was happy to have him in my loser league. Really happy.