San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland took a third-quarter Tom Savage pass 34 yards the other way for a big, game-changing defensive touchdown.
And he apparently saw it coming a mile away.
Boreland, a third rounder out of Wisconsin, said he saw the play in film study during the week, enough that he described it as a Bill O’Brien staple, and an obvious one given the Texans alignment on the play.
Every time he saw a three-by-one receiver set that had an unusually big split between the second and third receivers on the three-receiver side, he said, the second receiver would run a stick route — the exact one tight end Ryan Griffin ran on the play, and the exact one Borland stepped in front of for the pick-six.
“I was keyed into it pre-snap,” Borland said. “When I saw it, I just went.”
It was far from the only issue for the Texans in a 40-13 hammering by the 49ers at NRG Stadium tonight.
Case Keenum, who started the game, completed only 8-for-17 passes for 70 yards and an interception, by cornerback Chris Cook. Savage, who took over in the second quarter and played the rest of the game, went 8-for-12 and for 43 yards.
Both QBs had ratings under 38.0, and together averaged 3.7 yards per pass.The offense didn’t score a touchdown for the second time this preseason.
But this revelation draws a red flag.
On the one hand, it’s pretty disturbing that Borland, playing only his fourth professional game, could pick up on that big a tell in O’Brien’s offense, which has been billed as complex, intricate and effective.
On the other, with it being the preseason, and with O’Brien likely having deployed only a sliver of his playbook so far, any one concept is likely to be a big feature in the watered-down offense.
For now, it’s merely something to keep an eye on. Should it become a regular observation of opposing players in post-game interviews, it’ll be something more.
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