Forty Niners LT Joe Staley with the critical, heads-up block…
This is the time of year when football enthusiasts eagerly anticipate Top 10 lists, but here at FBF, we aim to offer something beyond the typical rankings.
While the spectacular final outcomes often steal the spotlight, it’s the underlying factors that pave the way for such astonishing moments.
We present to you a countdown of last season’s Top 10 plays, with a primary focus on the intricacies that contributed to these memorable highlights.
In Week 5, the Forty Niners found themselves trailing 17-16 against the Chiefs on home turf during the fourth quarter. Throughout the day, both offenses had struggled to gain momentum, making any offensive breakthrough a much-welcomed sight.
Facing a challenging 3rd and 10 deep in their own territory, Niners’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick executed a drop-back pass under immense pressure. He launched a deep fade along the left sideline, targeting the tightly covered Brandon Lloyd.
Lloyd soared above Chiefs’ cornerback Sean Smith, expertly adjusting his position mid-air to outmaneuver Smith, demonstrating exceptional body control and unwavering concentration.
In an extraordinary display of athleticism, both players ended up with their arms tangled, yet Lloyd managed to secure the remarkable reception.
Within Lloyd’s illustrious career filled with remarkable catches, this particular one stood out as one of his finest. The catch garnered significant attention in highlight reels during the month of October.
We’ve marveled at the brilliance of the play, but now let’s delve into the intricacies that set the stage for this moment.
The Chiefs orchestrated a complex, swirling pressure scheme on a critical 3rd and long situation.
They strategically positioned their standout defensive end, Tamba Hali (#91), as an inside rusher rather than his usual spot at the end of the defensive line.
Starting with a running burst against the offensive left guard, Hali, a formidable and accomplished pass rusher, posed a considerable challenge for the offensive line.
To compound the dilemma, the Chiefs cleverly dropped their defensive end, aiming to entice left tackle Joe Staley to shift outward and cover his assigned block, thus widening the potential rushing lane for Hali.
This orchestrated pressure by the Chiefs displayed meticulous planning. However, the subtle and alert move by left tackle Joe Staley proved to be a pivotal moment.
Staley, recognizing the need to support his fellow lineman, executed a “block back” technique when his assignment transitioned into pass coverage.
This selfless action provided Colin Kaepernick with just the sliver of space required to deliver a sufficiently accurate pass, allowing Brandon Lloyd to make his acrobatic catch.
Staley’s action might not have been a bone-crushing block, but it was sufficient to disrupt Hali’s momentum, preventing him from maintaining a straight-line path to the quarterback.
This slight deviation in Hali’s rush trajectory accounted for the crucial yard or more of space that allowed Kaepernick to complete his throw successfully, even with the pressure.
The seasoned veteran Staley’s quick thinking played a pivotal role in getting the football airborne, setting the stage for Lloyd’s spectacular catch, where he worked his magic for the highlight reel.
This particular moment in the game carried significant weight as it ultimately translated into valuable points.
It serves as a prime example of high-level team football, where every player’s contribution matters.
In addition, it provides a convenient pretext for sharing one of my all-time favorite NFL images: Brandon Lloyd’s remarkable diving catch, accompanied by a radiant smile.
Brandon Lloyd, a seasoned NFL pass catcher, possesses a unique ability to pull off extraordinary catches.
However, during that specific October moment, showcasing his smile-inducing skills wouldn’t have been possible without the exceptional efforts of his offensive line teammate.