The 49ers Offensive Evolution Under Kyle Shanahan
The 2019 San Francisco 49ers entered the season with low vegas expectations. Odds Shark had their 2019 preseason over/under win total at 8. After a four-win season in 2018, the 49ers had to answer a lot of questions to be considered a contender in 2019. The 49ers found answers to those questions by posting an NFC best 13-3 record, winning their division, and securing the NFC's number one seed.
The 2018 Offense
San Francisco finished the 2018 season ranked near the bottom according to the measures we incorporate into our measurable offensive efficiency stats as follows;
Havoc Rate allowed 20.04% with total 3rd down attempts not converted (30th).
13 fumbles (31st)
48 sacks (24th)
12 INT's (16th)
3rd downs not converted 120 (14th).
The area in which they excelled produced 76 plays of 20 yds or more, which ranked in the top ten (6th).
The 49ers year over year offensive efficiency improvement was night and day from 2018 to 2019 ranking 30th in 2018 vs. 11th in 2019, posting a near -4% difference YOY at 16.50%. The drivers for this improvement are as follows;
sacks allowed 36 (12th)
3rd downs not converted 110 (6th)
Where they remained the same or did not improve much or at all, INT's 13 (18th), and Fumbles 8 (24th).
Their Biggest Improvement Areas
The areas where they improved dramatically are not a part of the efficiency numbers we use, and those measures are as follows;
points per game from 2018 21.4 per game (21st) to 2019 29.9 per game (2nd) improving by 8.5 points YOY.
The other stat that stands out for the 49ers offense is their improvement in yds per play, in 2018, 5.8 yds per play (14th), compared to 2019 6.0 yds per play (6th).
The improvement in points per game is a direct reflection of how much the 49ers improved at getting the football into the endzone in the run game.
Kyle Shanahan Rushing Attack
Shanahan is known to be one of the best in football at scheming and attacking defenses with the run game. In 2018 every QB, RB on the roster was injured at some point throughout the year and Shanahan still managed a decent rush attack;
ranking 14th in yds per attempt with 4.5 per, on 423 attempts (11th).
Where they struggled the most in 2018, putting the ball in the endzone in the run game.
This season they have had a healthy Jimmy G at QB, and though they don't ask him to do a lot, Garappolo does put pressure on defenses forcing them to respect the throw game.
In 2019 the run game improved in all areas, ranking 2nd in attempts with 498, 2nd in yards with 2305, and 1st in TD's with 23.
Kyle Shanahan's Scheme
In the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers attempted eight passes. Yes, you are reading this correctly, they attempted eight passes and ran the football 42 times for 285 yds, and 6.8 yds per attempt.
The Kyle Shanahan coaching philosophy comes from the Gibbs, Kubiak coaching tree. Shanahan uses wide zone run concepts from tight formations to create as many gaps as possible. He loves to run wide zone to the weak side of the formation and mixes in pin and gap scheme runs to mix it up.
Once the Shanahan's 49ers establish their run game, He then incorporates boot action using the same wide zone concepts post-snap to get the defense flowing. He likes to move the QB's launch point away from the flow of the defense while running flood concepts to go with the boot action.
When researching Kyle Shanahan, I discovered a YouTube video series created by Coach Codutti that details the Kyle Shanahan scheme in great detail. The Coach Codutti video analysis further validates the reasons why Kyle Shanahan's system led the 49ers on an upward trajectory in 2019.
Below, I embedded the first three installments of the Coach Codutti series.
Coach Codutti: 49ers offense pt 1 WIDE ZONE
Coach Codutti: 49ers offense part 2 Wide zone / run Wrinkles.
49ers offense part 3 / Boot Game