SANTA CLARA — When Kyle Shanahan arrived as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in February, expectations of a high-flying multi-faceted passing attack that led the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl only a few weeks before his hiring came with him.
No one would have expected Shanahan to pick up right where he left off, but through two weeks of the NFL season the air attack has been almost non-existent. The 49ers rank 31st in passing, having only been able to muster 255 yards on the year. Total. Last year Shanahan’s Falcons averaged 40 more yards than that per week.
But not all is dreary as far as the offense goes. After a decent showing from Carlos Hyde Week 1, the ground game was off to the races in Seattle last Sunday.
Against the Seahawks both Hyde and rookie Matt Breida ran wild. The tandem combined for 159 yards on the afternoon on only 19 attempts.
“We were able to move the ball pretty well,” Joe Staley said of the team’s Week 2 trip to Seattle. “One of the best (games) I’ve been a part of kind of, as far as running the football in Seattle against a tough front.”
Pierre Garçon has played under Kyle Shanahan before when the young coach was Garçon’s offensive coordinator from 2012-2013. Garçon says the team’s early success running the football will help the passing game moving forward.
“Defenses hate when the guys run the ball all over them,” Garçon said Tuesday. “So that definitely opens up the pass game. If not this game, the next game, during the game that we played last week, it definitely helps us out in the passing game.”
The onus for a poor passing attack doesn’t solely fall on Kyle Shanahan. Brian Hoyer’s play through two games so far has been disappointing.
To his credit, drops at inopportune times have hurt the quarterback’s stat line. But he hasn’t done enough to overcome a mostly unproven group of young receivers. But the journeyman isn’t deterred buy the lack of success so far.
“When you watch the film and see you’re an inch off here, an inch off there, I think that’s always…it drives you to be better,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “It drives you to be that much better, an inch better, one play better. One play can change a game, and I that’s what has really driven us.
“Like I said, luckily for us this week, coming off of a poor performance we can get back out there really quick.”
“We know it’s going to come,” Garçon said of the passing game. “It just takes some plays, some missed errors to get it right and be on top of it.”
The 49ers host the St. Louis rams Thursday night, the team that both of 2016’s wins came against. Kickoff is at 5:25 p.m..