The zone read, or read option, exploded onto the NFL in the early parts of this decade, as offenses featuring Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III all ran it with great success. Kaepernick most notably delivered it into the consciousness of every NFL fan with an incredible 181-yard, two touchdown performance in his first playoff start against the Green Bay Packers.
Since then, with Griffin’s career being derailed by injuries and Kaepernick’s play dropping off in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, much has been made about the staying power of the zone read. While rumors of its demise are greatly over-exaggerated, it has perhaps made way for run-pass-options as the tactic du jour in 2018.
The reality is, as the game evolves, there will always be a place in offenses for the read option. Since football’s creation, defenses have had an innate numerical advantage against the run — 11 versus 10 with the quarterback being a bystander. The zone read levels out the playing field and makes defenses put a hat on every head.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked on Wednesday if defenses had figured the zone read out. His answer was terrific and in-depth, take a look: