The San Francisco 49ers Out-Tebowed The Jets

For the New York Jets, the most embarrassing part of their disastrous loss to San Francisco wasn’t the 34-0 score. It was how Jim Harbaugh took the Jets’ strategy and improved on it in every way.

Mike Segar / Reuters

Much Ado About Tebow could be the name of a movie adaptation of the New York Jets’ 2012 season — though why the hell anyone would make that, I don’t know — but so far, he’s been terribly utilized by offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and head coach Rex Ryan. The vaunted Wildcat attack that both guys trumpeted at the beginning of the season has been nonexistent, and when he has taken the field, Tebow has been brutally ineffective.

This was bad enough before Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers came into the Jets’ house and gave a masterclass on how to manage a running quarterback — in this case, second-year player Colin Kaepernick — on their way to a 34-0 win. Meanwhile, Alex Smith, who had a very ordinary 12/21, 143-yard, 2-sack game, still looked like a model for the type of game manager that the Jets hope Sanchez can be. (Spoiler alert: he can’t.)

Here’s what I mean.

3. Kaepernick play #1: a read option (with a speed option on top!) that gains 10+ yards and a first down.

The 49ers line Kaepernick up in a college-style pistol formation and let him run the option much in the same way that the Redskins are currently using Robert Griffin III.

4. Kaepernick play #2: a long incompletion to Randy Moss.

The Jets have only let Tebow throw once this year, and that was a silly little dump-off to a tight end. In the three contests prior, Tebow had zero pass attempts, and so no one has taken seriously the threat that he could potentially throw the ball, instead zeroing in on him as a runner — a large part of the reason why Tebow’s averaging a sad 9.5 rushing yards per game so far this season.

Meanwhile, in the first quarter, the Niners let Kaepernick take a shot at the end zone. It isn’t a great pass, and it’s into triple coverage — although Randy Moss does almost come down with it — but it means that the Jets have to respect the possibility that Kaepernick could sling it when he takes the snap.

5. Kaepernick play #3: a sweep to the left that results in a TD.

Another wrinkle, executed perfectly.

6. Harbaugh just gets it.

7. Meanwhile, how did the Jets use Tebow?

By running the same basic zone read play they always use when he comes in — which they still aren’t blocking well four games into the season.

8. It’s also worth looking quickly at Alex Smith.

Here, Smith throws a simple, easy screen pass to Mario Manningham that Manningham takes for a first down. The 49ers have provided Smith with a talented receiving corps that includes Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Manningham, and Randy Moss, and they allow him to take advantage of his strengths — intelligence and short-range accuracy — and avoiding his weaknesses.

9. Also, SMITH TAKES CARE OF THE BALL. Sanchez doesn’t.

Smith has only turned the ball over twice in four games so far this year — one interception and one fumble lost. (He had another fumble that was recovered by the 49ers.) Sanchez, on the other hand, has five turnovers — four interceptions and one fumble lost. Pictured above is Sanchez’s interception against San Francisco, an awful back-foot toss.

10. Ever.

Here, he fails to protect the ball while under pressure, and it’s easily stripped.

The Jets are supposed to be a team that controls games on offense and wins them on defense. But right now they don’t have enough talent to do either. And their failure to put either of their quarterbacks in position to succeed suggests that it doesn’t really matter much which one of them starts.

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