So you may have noticed that San Francisco's offense was practically the walking dead to start their playoff games this year. If not, here's a reminder of what they did on their opening drives. Against Green Bay, Colin Kaepernick threw a pick-six. Against Atlanta, they gained only one yard in the midst of a three-and-out. And against Baltimore, another three-and-out featured an inexplicable illegal formation on the first play of the game. All told, the 49ers offense scored zero points, amassing only 23 yards on 10 plays. And thanks to an almost equally zombified defense, they found themselves down by a combined score of 31-10 at the end of the first quarter. Good thing the NFL rule book allowed for (at least) three more.

What you might not have noticed is that this phenomenon of slow starts wasn't at all atypical of how the offense opened games during the regular season. Or maybe I'm projecting here, and it turns out I'm the only one who didn't notice. Thankfully, David brought it to my attention, and asked me to see whether or not the stats agreed with what his (potentially lyin') eyes saw. That's exactly what I'll lay out in the rest of this relatively brief post (for me).

At Football Outsiders, we have a whole page dedicated to drive stats, which are put together each week by Jim Armstrong. You can click on that link to see how the 49ers did over the course of the season on their own drives, the ones they had to defend, and the net difference between the two. Jim was kind enough to send me his drive-by-drive data, which I was able to examine alongside the play-by-play database we use to calculate our efficiency metric, Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (explained in detail here). Interestingly -- and this wasn't really my expectation going in -- viewing these two data sources side by side does a good job of illuminating why San Francisco's opening drives seemed to look so bad.