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Film Review: Ben Powers against the 49ers

Denver Broncos guard Ben Powers continues to improve as the preseason rolls on. Let’s take a look at how he performed against the San Francisco 49ers.

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Ben Powers might end up being the most impactful signing of the 2023 offseason for the Denver Broncos. The former Baltimore Ravens guard is known for his physical and dominant ability in the run game, but his pass game leaves much to be desired.

But that is something that Denver knew when bringing him in, and they are clearly working on it during training camp and this preseason.

Powers, like the rest of the offensive line, struggled in the passing game against the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago. But also like the rest of the offensive line, there was a noticeable improvement from then to their game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Let’s take a look at how LG Ben Powers held up in both the running and passing departments.

Full film review of Ben Powers vs the 49ers

Pass Protection

The facts

Ben Powers played 13 snaps where the Broncos ran a pass play. He would give up two pressures and one sack.

While he did have a handful of poor plays over these 13 snaps, most of them were serviceable at the least, and I would argue that the majority of them were good blocks.

The good

While Powers can thank Cushenberry for the solid handoff, Powers does do a solid job of receiving the DT and taking him over. This is due in large part to how Powers positioned himself after the snap, not taking too large of a kick step, and keeping hip to hip with Cushenberry.

He then uses his strength to drive against the DT and angles his backside in a way that cuts off the DT from his path to Russell Wilson.

Powers does a great job here of absorbing the impact from the defensive tackle and not stopping his feet on contact, which is something you’ll see in the bad plays.

He does lean a little bit, but how well he’s able to step up and keep his feet moving is what prevents him from getting thrown off like he does in other plays.

Body positioning here is also helping a ton. He doesn’t over-set to the outside and gives up a lane to the A gap in the process of doing so. He is giving the defender only one real choice of where to attack, and that’s the B gap.

The bad

Here is that sack that Powers gave up.

A textbook example of what happens when you stop your feet in pass pro. The DT continues to work through contact while Powers is just absorbing a hit and turning his shoulders. The DT is able to find the hands, and since Powers’ shoulders are turned, that gives a free lane to the quarterback.

Bad stuff, but very fixable.

Another example of the rule of “stop your feet, get beat”. Powers leans and stops his feet, allowing the defender to get past Powers and force Russell Wilson to roll out.

Powers, correctly, posts up to the DT since he is at an inside shade, but since he stops on contact, the defender is able to hand fight and work back to the B gap, which is now wide open since Powers had to slide into the A gap to get in front of the DT.

Another simple and fixable mistake. Throughout most of the film, when Powers got beat in pass pro, an overwhelming majority of the time it was due to him leaning and stopping his feet on contact.

Run Protection

The facts

Powers played 10 snaps where the Broncos ran a run play. The ball carrier would rush to Powers’ side 6 times and would gain a total of 34 yards over the course of those six plays. Denver averaged 5.7 ypc when running behind Powers.

The film makes it obvious that Ben Powers is really good in the run game. Whether it be zone or an iso block, Powers is moving people down the field, picking up linebackers off of double-team blocks, and playing hard, physical football.

The good

Now this is how you execute a double-team block on the backside of a zone play.

Securing the first level while keeping your shoulders facing upfield and then being able to come off of that block and secure the linebacker. Everything went well for Powers on this play.

Now we can’t talk about this play without giving some credit to Bolles here. He aided in this block by being able to effectively work to take over the DT from Powers so that Ben would be able to move up to backer. Great stuff by these two.

Look at where Powers ends up at the end of this play. He is more than six yards downfield.

If you didn’t know, that’s really good.

This is the quintessential Ben Powers run protection. And this was not the only time he did something like this during the Niners game. He did this on a handful of other zone and iso plays as well.

There is nothing like taking a powerful first step, matching that up with perfect hand placement on the inside of the chest, and driving through contact. That’s how you get and keep a defensive player off-balance. This is dominating a 300-pound defensive lineman.

The bad

This is the best “bad” example I could find for this game, and it really isn’t that poor of a block. Yes, it doesn’t look good when you end up a couple of yards in your own backfield, but because of the play they run, it doesn’t matter.

This is inside zone left, a play that typically hits in the B gap, or sometimes the C gap. Since Powers knows where the running back is supposed to go, and the DT over him slants to the A gap, Powers is then just able to wall off the DT.

Vertical displacement is good, but not required for Powers for this play call. He goes from initially getting beat on his block to making the smart move and wins the rep by just positioning himself between the DT and the running back.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Ben Powers had a strong outing against the Niners. He was physical and dominant in the run game, and while he did have some blown plays in the passing department, he was able to make clean blocks most of the time and gave Wilson a good pocket.

One of the more exciting things seen during this film review is how well the offensive line as a whole is meshing. This is evident during the times when they effortlessly pass defenders off to each other and execute double-team blocks.

It wasn’t just Powers that saw improvement from the AZ game to now, but the whole unit.

Good stuff.