Senior Bowl Review – Offense

by Tommy Lawlor  –

Offensive notes from the Senior Bowl.  First up some quick notes, after the jump will be the long stuff.

* No QB really had a great game.  Colin Kaepernick and Christian Ponder impressed me more than the others.

* This wasn’t the game to watch if you wanted to see great skill players.

* Derrick Locke showed a good burst.  Small RBs need to look very athletic and Locke did.  Noel Devine failed to stand out in this way, which isn’t good for a guy that is 5’7, 160.

* Dane Sanzenbacher helped himself with a strong showing.

* Leonard Hankerson played the best of any WR.  He caught the ball well and played up to his size.  How often do we see big WRs run around like they’re Marvin Harrison?

* Nate Solder started slow, but got better as the game went on.

* Danny Watkins didn’t look like a guy who was new to OG.  He made some mistakes due to inexperience, but overall played pretty well.

* I was impressed with both Clint Boling and Lee Ziemba.  Neither guy stood out in the practices, but both guys showed that they are gamers.


JAKE LOCKER — Started. Missed open Kendricks down the seam on opening drive. Did have some pressure. Hit Young with accurate pass on 3rd down play on early drive, but Titus failed to make the catch. Connected with Young on a play-action pass in the late 3rd Qtr. Got 15 yds on the play. Went deep for Young on the next play. The coverage was good so Jake just put it out there. Fell incomplete. Hit Scott with a short dump pass and that turned into a gain of 33. Fumbled in the late 3rd when he started to scramble on a pass play. Got hit from behind. Jake never saw the defender. Threw for Pettis in the endzone. The CB drew a PI flag on the play. The pass was thrown to a spot where Pettis could make a clean play on the ball if not interfered with. Scrambled out to his left late in the game and hit Pettis for a big gain. Good throw on the move. Made a good throw to young on the next play. Hit him with a short pass, but the throw was on time and on target so he could add some RAC yds. The very next play was a deep ball to Young. The pass was to the inside, where the CB could play it but not the WR. Poor throw. Hit Sanzenbacher on the right side with a good throw for 9 yds. Tried to hit Young on a post route, but the ball was too high and ball fell incomplete.

COLIN KAEPERNICK — Came into the game late in the half. First pass was picked off, but it wasn’t his fault. Receiver bobbled the ball and LB grabbed it. Hit Sanzenbacher with a good throw to open the 3rd Qtr. Hit him on the fly so Dane could get RAC yds. Play went for 23 yds. Kept the ball on a zone read play and was tackled for a loss. Should have given it to the RB. Tried to run a QB draw, but Irving planted him for a loss. Hit Sanzenbacher on an out route on 3rd/8 to move the chains. Those two had good chemistry. They connected on timing plays, not just routes where a guy gets open and the QB then throws it to him. Had a real impressive play play later on the drive. Executed a good play-action fake. Had a DE right on top of him after that. Kapernick didn’t panic. He stepped up in the pocket and then fired a pass to Sanzenbacher, hitting him 15 yds downfield with a strike. Hit Sanzenbacher with a good throw on a quick slant. Only got about 5 yards, but the timing was again very good. Rolled out wide on 3rd/GL from the 15. Put a great move on DT Jenkins to elude him and buy more time. Kaepernick never found anyone open. Didn’t force the ball into coverage. Ran for what he could and then settled for the FG. Scrambled on 3rd down late in the game. Didn’t have room to run for the 1st so he threw to his RB. Unfortunately Hunter dropped the ball.

RICKY STANZI — Hit Paul with short throw to open drive in the early 2nd Qtr. Made errant throw on 3rd down and unit had to punt. Got pressured late in the half. Scrambled out to his left and hit Kendricks along the sideline. Made a really poor throw late in the half. Lobbed a ball to a slot receiver on a go route. The ball was underthrown and should have been picked off. The DB couldn’t quite get hold of it. Hit Brown on the left side for a gain of 15 in the 4th. Simple play, throw. Made an impressive play on a bootleg pass. Rolled out wide, but had pressure from Acho. Managed to get the ball off to Kendricks for a gain of 12. Not an easy pass. Hit Brown with a slant in the 4th. The pass was accurate, but lacked ideal zip. Avoided Acho in space on a bootleg play. Was only able to throw the ball away, but didn’t take a sack. Tried to hit Brown with a key 3rd down pass in the 4th Qtr, but the throw seemed to come off his hand funny and was off target.

KENDALL HUNTER — Got tackled for only a short gain on early screen pass. Miller made a terrific play and limited what Kendall could do. Used a good stiff arm on MLB on early run play. That helped Hunter to get a couple of extra yards. Dropped a 3rd down pass from Kaepernick late in the game. Wasn’t an easy catch and it wouldn’t have been a 1st down, but that is still a play you want the RB to make.

DeMARCO MURRAY — Had a good run to the left side for 7 yds. Followed his blocks and then hit the hole when it was clear. Lost a yard on a run play, but had to deal with all kinds of penetration. Did make the first guy miss. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th were too much.

ROY HELU — Tried to use his speed on a toss play, but McCarthy chased him down out wide and only gave up a yard. Made a terrific cut on a draw play. Had no room to run up the middle so bounced it out wide left. Had to run through a tackle attempt in the backfield. Only got a few yards on the play, but turned nothing into something.

Da’RELL SCOTT — Got 7 yds on a draw play in the late 3rd. Lowered his shoulder into a CB at the end of the run. You have to love RBs that finish runs. Caught a short dump pass on the next play and turned that into a gain of 33. The LB in his area slipped and Scott didn’t hesitate. Scott lacks top end speed, but runs hard. Scored a short TD in the late 3rd. Took the handoff and went straight in. A lot of the blocking made it appear the play was going right, but Scott never flinched. He went straight. Ran through a couple of arm tackles to get a yard on a 4th Qtr run play.

OWEN MARECIC — Had a terrific lead block on McCarthy in the hole. Made good contact and then drove him wide. That gave Murray plenty of room.

MIKE McNEILL — Did okay as a blocker.  Better on pass plays than runs.

LANCE KENDRICKS — Caught a pass along the sideline and then got some RAC yards. That was the play where Stanzi scrambled. Kendricks got lost by the defense and then wisely came back toward Stanzi to make himself more visible and the throw easier. Made a good block of Bailey on run to his side. Got both hands on him cleanly, moved him off the ball, and sustained the block. Made a tough catch in the 4th. Stanzi got him the ball, but it was low due to pressure. Lance made the catch as he was going to the ground.

LEE SMITH — Failed to catch a short pass from Kapernick on a rollout pass. The ball was a bit high, but Smith should have made the grab. Did a good job in pass pro. Bends his knees and has good lateral agility. Got called for holding on a run play. He expected the run to go inside. It went wide and his defender tried to peel off in pursuit. Smith held. Had a beautiful block on WR screen. Play was run to other side. Smith came across the formation. He got a shot on LB in pursuit, putting him on the ground. Lee then fell on the LB to keep him down.

AUSTIN PETTIS — Looked painfully slow on a pass route in the late 3rd. Play started at the 22 and the route went into the endzone. Pettis was tightly covered, but the CB made contact while going for the ball and drew a flag for PI. Pettis did make a good attempt on the ball. He got his hands on it, but couldn’t hold on. Caught a pass late in the game and then added some RAC yards. Got out of bounds to stop the clock. Gained 26 yds on the play.

TITUS YOUNG — Started the game with an end around. Lost a couple of yards. Dropped early 3rd down pass that killed a drive. Had to extend for the ball, but it was very catchable. Caught a pass in the late 3rd from Locker. He had several defenders in his vicinity and had no chance to get RAC yds. Went deep on the next play. The CB stayed tight and Young pushed him off to get some space. That drew a flag for OPI. The throw wasn’t ideal. Caught a short pass late in the game and then made a great move to get upfield for the 1st down. Looked very elusive on the play.

NILES PAUL — Caught short pass on drive in the early 2nd Qtr.

VINCENT BROWN — Caught a quick screen out wide, but was tackled for a loss. Didn’t have a chance on the play. Couldn’t bring in a 3rd down pass on the next play. The ball was a bit off target. Dropped a quick slant pass late in the half. Was hit just after the ball got to him and would have been a tough play. Caught a WR screen in the 4th and got upfield for a gain of 13. Caught a pass on the left side for 15 yds. Caught a slant for a gain of 16 in the 4th. Took a hit, but held onto the ball.

DANE SANZENBACHER — Caught a pass in the early 3rd. Got the ball on the move and added RAC yds. Got 23 total yds on the play. Plucked the ball cleanly with his hands and made a smooth play. Caught an out route for 8 yds on 3rd/8. Ran the route well and then was ready to catch the ball coming out of his break. Made the grab. Caught a quick slant for about 5 yards. Took a big shot on the play and held onto the ball. Very similar to Vincent Brown’s play (same side, same CB), except Dane didn’t let go of the ball.

DWAYNE HARRIS — Had a couple of good returns in the game. Showed elusiveness and a good burst.

ANTHONY CASTONZO — Opened at LG. Let his DT go on early pass play and hit the QB. That was his OG inexperience showing. He looked out wide, as if to help the LT. Anthony passed the DT to the C, but he still should have stuck with his guy. Beaten to the inside by McPhee at LT and that forced Stanzi to scramble. Pulled to the right on a run play and missed his block. Got beaten off the edge by Reed late in the half and gave up a sack. Got time at RG in the 2nd half. Looked comfortable. Quick off the ball in pass pro, even on the inside. Slid out to RT when Pinkston left the game in the late 3rd. I was surprised at how solid Anthony played considering that he saw time at 4 of 5 OL spots.  He did much better at OG than I ever expected.

NATE SOLDER — LT. Let Acho get by him with an inside move and get a strip-sack. Not good. Nate did dive on the ball. Walled off the DE on Scott’s TD run. Had a real good block on WR screen. Got out in space quickly and hit Gilchrist so hard he almost went to the ground. Got beaten by a spin move of Reed’s late in the game. Locker had already thrown the ball so it didn’t affect the play.  Sloppy early on in pass pro, but settled down as the game went along and was solid overall.

STEVE SCHILLING — Got driven back in pass pro by DT. Worked hard to sustain his blocks. Handled quick DTs better than the big guys. Has good feet and used his hands well. Got driven back and tossed aside by Taylor late in the game. Phil then hit the QB.

JAMES BREWER — RT. Too upright in pass pro, but did an okay job. Played early and then didn’t come back in.

BRANDON FUSCO — Played C. Showed good quickness off the ball on run plays. Got beaten in pass pro by McClain. Fusco was knocked back by his quickness off the ball and never cleanly got his hands on McClain to slow him down. That inside pressure helped Reed get a sack off the edge. Had a good initial block of Neild on run up the middle. Tried to peel off and go for a LB, but they got tangled up.

KEVIN KOWALSKI — Played C and G. Thornton exploded off the ball on a GL play, but Kowalkowski stuck with the block and kept Thornton from getting to the RB, who did score on the play. Had one highlight block. Went to help the RT block a DE. Kowalkowski put the guy on the ground with a big shot to his side. Then he hit him again. Did well in pass pro late in the game at RG.

JOHN MOFFITT — Started at C. Got tossed aside by Jenkins on early pass play and that led to QB getting hit. Played some LG as well. Moved back to C in the 3rd Qtr. Made a terrific block of Neild on GL run. Got both hands on him cleanly and turned him inside, giving the RB a clear lane to the endzone. Smart block on WR screen. Started out wide. Sensed a defender just off his inside shoulder. Stopped and blocked that guy, a LB. Smart. Too many OL run out wide hoping for a target. Take one when you get the chance. That LB would have gotten to the WR if not for Moffitt’s block.

JASON PINKSTON — Played RT. Actually looked pretty natural on the right side. Did a good job in pass pro in the 1st half. Got beaten off the edge by Reed on a pass in the mid-3rd, but never gave up and rode Reed wide of the QB. Smart. Started to get beaten wide as the game went on. Again, always stuck with the block as long as he could to not give an easy angle to the DE. Getting beat only cost him once, when McPhee chased down Locker on a scramble play and hit him, knocking the ball loose. Jason did hustle over and jump on the ball, which led to him getting slightly hurt and leaving the game.


CHRISTIAN PONDER — Connected with Hankerson on a deep ball to open the game. The pass wasn’t perfectly on target, but was catchable. Scrambled for a 1st down on the opening drive. Overthrew an early fade to Hankerson by a yard or so. Didn’t give his receiver a chance to make the play. Hit R Johnson on the right side with a good throw. The ball lacked ideal velocity, but was accurate. RJ got a couple of RAC yards. Hit Hankerson with a short pass to the left side just after that. The ball was a bit outside, but catchable. Forced the ball to Stocker on 1st Qtr pass play. There was too much traffic and a LB knocked it away, incomplete. Was off target by a couple of yards on a corner route in the 1st Qtr. Hard to say if that was a bad pass or just him and the receiver knowing the route differently. Looked like he may have thrown the ball late. Hit Hankerson with a good pass on the left side for a TD. The throw was accurate and on time. The ball was to the outside, away from the CB. Scrambled on back to back plays in the 4th Qtr. Stumbled on the second play and came up short of the sticks. Did keep the clock going, which was smart since the South was winning. Fit a slant to Hankerson in tight traffic to open the next drive. Real nice throw. Good accuracy, zip. Hit Kerley with a TD pass late in the game to seal the deal. Used a pump fake and then hit Kerley in the slot.

GREG McELROY — Hit Allen with short dump pass to open the 2nd Qtr. Moved up in the pocket when he got some pressure on that play. Hit Sanders on 3rd/medium with pass on the left side to move the chains. Good read, accurate throw. Quick throws aren’t quick enough. Slow release. Passes lack zip. Didn’t help his receivers at all on short throws. Overthrew Hankerson on the right side on a quick out. Not a good “bad throw”. Badly underthrew a deep ball. It was picked off, but that was nullified by a penalty. Scrambled for a 1st down. Naked bootleg play didn’t work. Greg wisely threw it way out of bounds rather than taking any chances. Some of his 4th Qtr throws were erratic after McElroy hit his hand on an OT’s helmet.

ANDY DALTON — Underthrew deep ball, but was hit as he released the pass so he couldn’t follow through on it. Kept the ball on a zone read play and ran for a nice gain late in the half. Threw a deep ball to Hankerson that was batted down by CB. Made a clutch throw from his endzone in the early 3rd. Hit Hankerson on the left side with a short pass that moved the sticks and gave the offense some room to breathe.

BILAL POWELL — Solid cutback run on first carry of the game. Got 5 yds on another early carry. Didn’t show anything special in terms of burst. Willing to lower his shoulder and fight for yards on inside runs. Not a power back, but rather a guy that looks for creases. Got 9 yds on a screen pass. Got a 1st down on a cutback run late in the half. Should have stayed N-S, but saw a defender coming from outside. Tried to cut wide of him for a huge gain, but got tackled. Got 13 yards on a draw play in the early 4th. Ran over a S at the end for the final few yds. Got 7 yds on a quick hitter to the left side. N-S run with no hesitation. Had a good run late in the game. Used a spin move to get away from defender who had penetrated. Then had someone grab his facemask. Got by that and fought for 1st down yardage. Excellent effort.

DERRICK LOCKE — Had a nice gain to the right side on early run. Defense gave him a hole and he didn’t hesitate. Good burst. Made an really nice cut on the next play. Started up the middle. Pressed the hole, then bounced a gap to the left and got upfield. Got 9 yds on the play. Made another real impressive cut a couple of plays later. Started to the right, off tackle. The defense was all over that area so Locke made a quick move and then bounced the run way out wide. Used a quick burst to turn a simple draw play into a gain of 15.

ANTHONY ALLEN — Played FB and RB. Isn’t a natural lead blocker. Runs hard between the tackles. Lowers his shoulder and gets behind his pads. Keeps his legs churning. Good effort.

NOEL DEVINE — Never looked like himself. Didn’t make dynamic cuts or show a real quick burst. Had a nice gain on a screen pass, but had a wide open area to run in. Ran hard on 3rd/GL. Tried to score, but just didn’t have any space. Scored an easy TD on 4th down by taking the run outside. Good vision, burst.

CHARLES CLAY — Played FB. Caught a pass in the left flat. Eluded a defender and got some RAC yards. Looks lost as a lead blocker. Had an effective block of Greg Jones on draw, but Jones tripped on someone’s legs to really help Clay out. Upright as a run blocker and tries to use his hands, like a TE or WR.

LEONARD HANKERSON — Caught a deep ball on the opening play. Didn’t make a clean grab. Ball hit him and bounced up, but he was able to then secure it. Did a good job of fighting through arm contact by the CB on the route. Stayed focused on the ball. Tried to run a slant near the GL and the ball was almost picked off. Didn’t run a great route. Caught a short pass on the left side on the second drive. Was able to pluck the ball despite it being off target a bit. Ran through the CB’s tackle before a LB got him. Route running needs to be more crisp. Caught a TD on the second drive. Was able to catch the ball and then use a spin move to get by the CB and into the endzone. Plucked the ball cleanly. Had a very good block of Sherman on screen pass. That helped Devine get as far down as he did. Made a great, but subtle move on catch in the early 3rd. Offense was backed up near the GL. Dalton threw a short pass to him. Hankerson went to the ball instead of waiting for it. That allowed him to catch it and kept the CB from getting to it. Hankerson got a couple of RAC yards to move the chains. Dropped a pass on the next play. Failed to catch 3rd down pass in the late 3rd. Wasn’t a drop. CB got a hand on the ball. Caught a slant to open a late 4th Qtr drive and got 15 yds on the play. Plucked the ball in traffic and then got some RAC yds.

RONALD JOHNSON — Caught a short pass on the right side and then added a couple of RAC yards. Had a deep ball thrown his way in the 2nd Qtr, but it was underthrown. Made a good adjustment, but wasn’t able to haul in the pass.

JEREMY KERLEY — Caught a short pass on the right side while working out of the slot. Caught a TD pass late in the game while working out of the slot. Got the ball at the 3 and then was helped into the endzone by a defender who hit him from behind.

JOCK SANDERS — Caught pass on the left side on early 3rd down. Moved the chains. Got just enough yardage for the 1st. Dropped downfield pass from McElroy. Should have been an easy catch.

GREG SALAS — Caught a 0 route/quick screen, but was tackled immediately.

COURTNEY SMITH — Caught short pass on the left side. Used a stiff arm to keep the CB away and fought for the 1st down.

LUKE STOCKER —- Had a terrific block of Jordan on run to his side. Pinned him inside and didn’t give any ground. That gave the RB a free run to the edge. Had an outstanding block of Foster on run play. Got into his body and kept his feet going. Drove Foster off the ball. Matthews deflected an early pass heading his way.

DJ WILLIAMS — Okay effort as run blocker, but has got to get better. Needs to sustain better. Makes good initial contact. Good block of Beal on 1st/GL run. Moved him inside. Had a pretty good block on Devine’s TD run. May have gotten away with a hold, but did at least show good effort on the play.

PRESTON DIAL — Caught a short pass on a bootleg play.

JAMES CARPENTER — LT. Got bull rushed into the QB by Kerrigan on the first play. Got off the ball quickly and up to the LB level on early run. Didn’t use his hands at all. Tried to block the LB with a shoulder. Odd. Struggled with Kerrigan’s speed early on, but battled as best he could. Sealed off a good hole for Locke by turning out the RDE. Showed the ability to re-set and anchor in pass pro after getting knocked back initially. Beal got by him for a sack, but was offside on the play. No flag was thrown.

DANNY WATKINS — LG. Had a great block of Ballard on early inside run. Doubled him at first, but then stuck with the block by himself until the whistle blew. Drove Ballard away from the scrum. Paved way for Ponder to get couple of yards on QB sneak on opening drive. Got a holding call when he was beaten to the inside by McClain. Moved to RG on next drive. Had a real good block of McClain in pass pro. Gave ground initially, but then re-set. Used his hands to keep McClain off his body. Had a good block of DT on draw play to give RB a clear running lane. The guy tried to go low and Danny put him on the ground and pushed him inside. Has excellent lateral agility. Works hard to mirror DTs when they try going hard inside or outside on him. Good block of Williams on pass play. Stuck with him until the QB scrambled. Good combo block on run to his side. Helped OT turn the DT, then got on the LB. Terrific block on GL run. Fired off the ball and got to Homan quickly. Gets off the ball well, but erratic on the 2nd level. Jordan split attempted double team by Watkins and RT and got RB on a play to his side. Good block on 4th Qtr run to his side. Got on the DT initially, then got on Homan and gave the runner space to get almost 5 yds.

JAKE KIRKPATRICK — C. Didn’t look athletic at all. Poor footwork. Looked stiff. Did a good job early on of double teaming with the LG. Tenacious. Won’t give up on a block even if he’s initially beaten.

CLINT BOLING — RG. Displayed good strength, power early on. Worked well on double teams. Failed to make a reach block on DT and he was able to get RB for a loss. Tough assignment. Played some LG as well. Good down block on Fua on run play to his side. Good block of DT on 3rd down to keep pocket clean for McElroy. Had a good down block on run to his side. Boling made a terrific block on a screen pass. Saw a DL in pursuit of the RB. Clint got out there and blindsided him, putting the guy on the ground. Good block of Homan on run to his side. Got beaten by Williams for sack. Had good initial block, but couldn’t sustain it long enough. Had an effective combo block on run to his side. Got on the DT and helped move him, then stumbled as he peeled off for the LB. Still managed to fall at his feet and slow down the LB.

LEE ZIEMBA — RT. Had a strong block of Cam Jordan on the opening pass. Had a good down block on DT Ballard on run to his side. Anchored well in pass pro. Also used his hands/arms to keep the pass rushers away and moved his feet so they couldn’t get around him. Made an excellent reach block of McClain on run play to the other side. Blocked aggressively, even in pass pro. Looked comfortable and confident.

DeMARCUS LOVE — Played RT. Anchored well in pass pro. Tried to cut Herzlich on run play. Not pretty or smooth, but did get Mark to eventually fall. Had a great down block on 1st/GL. Put Ballard on the ground. Got shed by Beal on 3rd/GL run. Not good when small DE can toss a big OT off him with one move. Really struggled with Kerrigan. Held him a few times to try and save the QB. Kerrigan used a spin move to bounce off the TE and get to the inside of Love. He sacked the QB on the play. Got knocked to the ground on run play by Fua.

DERRICK SHERROD — LT. Engaged Herzlich upfield on run play, but failed to get any movement. Never looked comfortable blocking Kerrigan on pass plays. Even when Sherrod won the battle, he seemed to be struggling. Had an excellent run block in the mid-2nd Qtr. Came off the ball quickly and stayed low. Got into the DT and moved him off the ball with help from Watkins. Had very good block of Allen on run play. Pinned him inside and stuck with the block. Excellent leverage on the play. Sloppy down block on GL run kept RB from scoring. Got into the DT with his shoulder, but couldn’t sustain the block because he didn’t use his hands. The DT got free and made the tackle. Got driven back into QB by Cam Jordan bull rush. Got driven back in pass pro by bull rush. McElroy hit his hand on Sherrod’s helmet on follow-thru after throwing pass. Good block of Beal on 4th Qtr run to that side.

RODNEY HUDSON — Played both G spots. At times he just looked small compared to the guys he was blocking. Failed to sustain run block of Jordan on play up the middle. Had excellent pass block of Ballard. Gave a little ground, but moved laterally and didn’t let the DT get by him. Walled off Ballard on draw play that went up the middle for 13. Good block.

KRIS O’DOWD — OC. Got downfield on screen, but didn’t look all that comfortable in space. Got pushed back on GL run by Fua, which disrupted the play. Fua used a quick burst on the next play to get into O’Dowd. Stayed low and stood O’Dowd upright and moving back again. Helped with a good double team of DT on draw play that went for 13 yds. Struggled with Fua on a 4th Qtr run. That play got nothing.

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