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Football 101: Cover-two


A former linebacker, 49ers radio color analyst Gary Plummer is well versed on the X's and O's of football. Throughout the offseason he will break down many football schemes and concepts in these Football 101 segments, which can also be seen on TV49. Enjoy this piece on cover-two defense.

Today we're going to look at what's called "two-man" [defense]. With this defense, you have two deep safeties who are responsible over the top and you have man-to-man coverage. Remember there are only five receivers who can go out.

You've got two corners and you've got three linebackers responsible in coverage underneath. This is a very good coverage if you can get pressure with a four man rush. Now, what you try to do a lot of times in coverage is use disguise.

Walt Harris is playing off right here.


So he's trying not to show the quarterback that it is two-man. But the safety that's over here, Michael Lewis, he's playing up a little bit. What happens is Walt Harris is a 13-year veteran. He recognizes this rookie, Donnie Avery, for the Rams within the first two or three steps.

Guess what? This is going to be a deep ball. Instead of coming up and squatting, and trying to jam this wide receiver, he [Harris] says I'm going to just go deep with him. I know I have safety help over the top. This is veteran move. This isn't how you would coach it up, but this is the reason you can still be successful in your 13th year. So, the quarterback goes back to pass. He's got decent protection and he's able to step up.

The ball's underthrown a little bit. And, a lot of times, guys who are playing cornerback are former receivers and this is just excellent ball skills. Going up for the ball, coming back for the ball is Harris.


Avery is going to learn if he wants to be successful in this league there are corners who used to be wide receivers that are going to fight you for the football. Immediately, you see that Mark Roman becomes a blocker. Then a guy coming all the way back makes an excellent block and blows up this receiver for the Rams.

This instantly becomes an offensive play for the defense. It's something that you work on every day in practice. You scream out whatever particular call that your team uses for an interception and immediately you start looking for guys to hit.

All the defensive lineman, first guy they look to hit… the quarterback. This is one of those kill shots that you absolutely love to have as a defender. A guy that absolutely loves to play this game, Nate Clements turns and he takes out a rookie with a nice block, springing his fellow corner for an extra 10-yard gain. Setting the 49ers up in good field position, and they actually went on to score after this play.

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