Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Oct 2011

The 49ers and the 'Wham' Play

If you read Audibles this week, you saw a conversation about the San Francisco 49ers and how they used 'wham' blocking techniques to neutralize Ndamukong Suh. Chris Brown of SmartFootball.com has done an excellent write-up of one of those plays for Grantland, with screen caps and diagrams showing how the 49ers set up and executed the play, and how Frank Gore was able to take advantage of it.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 17 Oct 2011

7 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2011, 4:04pm by jimbohead


by MJK :: Mon, 10/17/2011 - 8:38pm

Cool article. I couldn't make out the safety they described as a "blur" though...

I love articles of this type. It helps me understand line play better, and makes watching the game more fun as I know more.

ESPN Boston has a similar writeup with the same kind of step by step diagrams on Brady's game-winning TD pass to Hernandez.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/17/2011 - 8:45pm

His play diagram is slightly wrong, though not on the play side. He shows Iupati moving out to block the WILL but he fanned out to wall off the RDE, it's Staley who goes after the linebacker.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:26pm

This run is getting a lot of this kind of attention. Here's a somewhat better version, I think:


The photographs are better, at any rate...the safety is not a blur in these photos, for instance.

by zenbitz :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:45pm

that photo sequence shows how Upati's (RG) non-block of the non-Suh Lions DT almost blew this play up in the backfield.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:45pm

Iupati is the left guard, he blocks the right end. And the Detroit right DT is not close to blowing the play up. It's Adam Snyder who has let him wash himself out of the play by shooting upfield. The foreshortening of the field due to the camera angle makes him look much closer than he was to Smith and Gore, he's actually about three or four yards away, look at their feet.

by zenbitz :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 8:48pm

Ah, I thought 77 was Davis playing LT. Point taken about the foreshortening. Snyder is chasing the DT I guess.

by jimbohead :: Wed, 10/19/2011 - 4:04pm

So, I thought I saw this play 3 times, twice to the right side, targeting Suh as shown, and once flipped to the left side, though I can't remember exactly when (late q3, early q4 with Hunter perhaps). Also, the play starts with Walker outside Davis, motioning to the inside. The same formation and motion was called before what looked like a play-action pass that was called dead due to a false start. It seemed that they were trying to leverage the early success of that play early to draw in the safety a wee bit early, cause Suh to not commit himself so dramatically to penetration, and perhaps hit someone on a deep post.