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Football 101: Play Action


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 TV 49.  Enjoy this piece of play action pass.I'm back at the 49ers facility and today we're going to look at play action pass. Why is it so effective? The play we'll be looking at happens to be the first play of the game down in Dallas where the 49ers came out on fire. This is one of the reasons.

In order to get somebody open down field you either have to have great protection or some kind of diversion so that the linebackers can't get their proper depth. In this case you have the threat of the run with Frank Gore. This linebacker here, as you watch it, there's not a heck of a good fake, but it's just enough to make him take a step up which doesn't allow him to get his proper depth on this pass to Isaac Bruce.


Looking at the play action, normally this is something that I'm sure the quarterback coach is going to be upset with Shaun Hill about. He doesn't really even put the ball in the stomach of Frank Gore. Ironically, it's still enough to hold this linebacker by one step and the ball is thrown. That linebacker should have been about four yards deeper and to the inside.

There were four men rushing and great protection for Shaun Hill. One of the reasons for that is that the defense has to play run first.


Now we're going to watch this from the end zone angle. It's the opening play of the game and one of the things that makes this play so successful is that guys are hyped up, especially the front seven. They want to stop the run. We always here that - you have to stop the run first. They're geeked up to stop the run and that's what allows this pseudo fake to have the effectiveness that it does.

Once again, the timing has to be perfect. The ball is thrown and he has to have the confidence to know that the fake will hold this linebacker just enough to be able to put the ball just over the top of him, but not too high that it allows the safety to make a break on the ball.

That is a perfect rout and a perfect pass. That's play action 101.

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