Editor's Note: Lance Zierlein goes under the hood in this film study of the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers against the San Francisco 49ers' blitz.
Green Bay was faced with a 3rd and 11 so San Francisco brought in their dime package to match up against the Packers. As you can see in this shot, there are three linemen (one is standing) and two linebackers in the box with an additional DB lined up near the 40 yard line on the far side and a CB on the slot WR on the near side. While this look isn't a true "mixer" look with multiple linemen and LBs standing and trying to create confusion for the offensive line and the quarterback, Rodgers doesn't know if the 49'ers will drop 8 or bring 7 at this point.
Once the ball is snapped, we see that San Francisco is showing blitz with all three of their LBs as well as off of both edges with the DBs. San Francisco is going to try and heat up Rodgers and either make him get rid of the ball quickly, confuse him or confuse the offensive line. To beat this blitz, the line must do their job in picking up their assignments, the slot WRs to their near side have to make hot reads and look for a hot throw from Rodgers and Rodgers himself must recognize the blitz and make the appropriate throw.
As you can see in this shot, both Jermichael Finley (in slot closest to line of scrimmage) and Randall Cobb (between the hash and the 40 yard line) both read "hot" (blitz from their defender) and turn their heads to look for the ball. It would also appear that Aaron Rodgers is looking in their direction.
In this shot, you can see Jermichael Finley eye-balling the inside linebacker and reading whether or not the LB is going to blitz. If he blitzes, it is Finley's job to turn and immediately look for the ball.
Previously, I showed you a shot where Finley had 11 yards of distance between himself and his nearest defender which is more than enough room for Rodgers to get him the ball. In reality, Finley made an immediate blitz read and opened up for the hot throw from Rodgers. As you can see there is a whopping 14 yards to the nearest defender and if Rodgers gets him the ball quickly, Finley has a great shot at making a first down.
The window to make the hot throw has closed on Rodgers so now reality sets in. The Packers have done a good job of matching man on man. This was not a complicated blitz by the San Francisco at all. It was clearly designed to occupy all of the blockers with one goal in mind - to get a free man running at Rodgers off the edge. While you can't see this in any of the pictures (you can see it in picture 7), after engaging the left guard so the he couldn't fan out and pick up the blitzing CB, the ILB actually tries to drop back into coverage (albeit too late if Rodgers had made his read and throw quickly).
The offensive line did their job and the RB did his job and the rush got picked up. The free running CB off the slot is the responsibility of Aaron Rodgers and he failed to see that man coming which lead to the sack. In the film room, that sack will be credited and charted as Rodgers' sack. The beauty of this blitz by San Francisco is that by showing Rodgers a blitz look by the easily visible inside linebackers, they created just enough detraction so that Rodgers would be a step slow with his recognition.