Barring some unforeseen incident, multiple reports have indicated that Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is going to be the 49ers next head coach.
Shanahan is a hot commodity right now, due in large part to the fact that the Atlanta offense led the league in scoring in 2016, and is fresh off 36 point beatdown of the Seattle defense in a Divisional Playoff win. But this isn’t the first time that Shanahan has been in charge of a dynamic offense, and his specific philosophy would seem to be the perfect fit for getting the most out of the 49ers’ offensive personnel.
“I would say that it starts with the run game, and their number one run is outside zone,” NFL Films guru Greg Cosell said on Murph and Mac Wednesday morning regarding Shanahan’s offensive philosophy. “I would say that the pass game is very much tied to the run game in terms of the concepts working off outside zone, the play action concepts.”
The 49ers most talented offensive player for the last two seasons has been running back Carlos Hyde, though the bar to clear to achieve that title hasn’t exactly been high. Despite that, and mostly due to injury, Hyde’s production has been a bit of a disappointment, never really becoming the cornerstone of the San Francisco offense that we all expected to see after rushing for 168 yards against Minnesota on opening night two years ago.
If there is any coach that can get the most out of Hyde, however, it’s Shanahan, who, like his dad, specializes in scheming ways to get production out of his running backs. Shanahan has had a 1,000 yard rusher in five of his nine seasons as an offensive coordinator. In one of those seasons, his running back was Steve Slaton, who never reached 500 yards again in a single season. Two of those seasons sawAlfred Morris as Shanahan’s lead back. Morris is now the backup in Dallas. Ryan Torian, Roy Helu and Isaiah Crowell all averaged more than four yards per carry as feature backs under Shanahan.
“Clearly his offensive design and his offensive concepts are very good,” Cosell said
Kyle’s father, Mike Shanahan, also had a proclivity for getting the most out of his running backs.
“The outside zone run for sure,” said Cosell when asked what Kyle and Mike have in common. “You think back to Mike Shanahan all those years in Denver, where he had different backs. We all remember Terrell Davis running for 2,000 yards, but there’s a lot of other names you might not remember who gained a lot of yards: Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson. These were backs who gained over 1,000 yards in the Mike Shanahan’s outside zone run offense.”
“We can look at Devonte Freeman and say ‘hey, he’s a great back,’ but Orlandis Gary is probably not a name a lot of people would remember. He did the same thing with Mike Shanahan.”
With the running back tandem of Freeman and Tevin Coleman, the Falcons were fifth in total rushing yards, and yards per attempt 2016.
Jim Harbaugh took over a similar offensive situation when was hired in 2011, and made running back Frank Gore the cornerstone of the 49ers possession based offense, something that helped take the pressure off Alex Smith. San Francisco again has a talented running back in Hyde, while currently lacking a QB that can throw the ball down the field.
With Shanahan coming into the fold, 2017 should be the year Hyde finally breaks out.
“I think Carlos Hyde has the skill set to fit any run game,” Cosell said.
Listen to the full interview below.