September 22, 2020

The Deets: Kyle Shanahan might need to re-invent the 49ers’ offense in 2020

The Deets is a weekday morning dose of commentary — delivered at 7 a.m. — from sports columnist Dieter Kurtenbach that wraps up everything important in the world of sports and looks forward to another crazy day ahead.

The Big Thing

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is synonymous with 21 personnel — formations two running backs and a tight end.

But going into the 2020 season, he might need to reinvent himself and the 49ers.

Shanahan’s offensive genius comes from his ability to design advantageous mismatches and open space for players to run after the catch. This is made possible through the multiplicity of his preferred personnel grouping, where running backs are pass catchers, tight ends are key blockers and lead receivers, wide receivers carry the ball, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk does a little bit of everything to facilitate the big gains.

But with the Niners facing both health and production questions at the wide receiver position heading into the 2020 season, the idea of playing two wide receivers at all times — as you do in 21 personnel — seems risky for San Francisco.

But what if they traded out one of those questionable receivers for tight end Jordan Reed and became a “22” personnel team?

I think it could take the 49ers’ offense — which was second in the NFL in points last year while running the most plays from 21 personnel — to yet another level this season.

Health permitting, Reed is an elite route runner and pass catcher, for any position. He’s one of the best tight ends in the game. The Niners should want him on the field as often as possible because he’s a massive mismatch for whomever the opposing defense puts on him when defending the pass or when the Niners are running the ball.

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And mismatches, remember, are what Shanahan’s offense is all about.

Now, Reed’s not George Kittle, the best all-around tight end the game, but he’s honestly not far off.

And putting both of them on the field, together, is a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare.

Should the Niners go to a two-tight end look this season in an effort to put their best players on the field as often as possible, it might be the second coming of the 2011 Patriots, who had a successful running back by committee approach and received 169 catches and 24 touchdowns, combined, from tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez en-route to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl berth.

The Niners, of course, would want to actually win the Super Bowl. Going to this personnel group more often could help them do that.

San Francisco’s offense is run-first, and while one-receiver sets would take away some possibilities for end-arounds and sweeps, it’d likely more than make up for that with outside zone runs.

Typically against 22 personnel, opposing teams would move to a true base defense — typically three linebackers behind four defensive linemen — to match up with the tight ends in the run game.

But against the 49ers, teams might think twice about putting three linebackers on the field …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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