49ers’ red-zone failures are a product of Shanahan’s approach

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan watches from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan doesn’t understand the problem with the 49ers’ red-zone offense. The problem is him.

He thinks his players are the issue. He blamed them on Monday, said they “missed opportunities” he created in the red zone during the 49ers’ 24-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

The 49ers may have missed opportunities Sunday when they scored only one touchdown in four red-zone trips. But, their red-zone issues began way before that. They started when Kyle Shanahan became the head coach. He is the constant in this red-zone equation.

And he won’t do the math. He’s in denial.

“Last year, I think we got better in the red zone as the year went,” Shanahan said Monday.

They didn’t. They got worse. The 49ers’ red-zone-touchdown percentage dropped to 45.5, which put them near the bottom of the league, after Jimmy Garoppolo became the starter Week 13. Before Garoppolo was the starter, the 49ers scored touchdowns 48.2 percent of the time they reached the red zone, which also ranked near the bottom of the league.

Garoppolo is much more talented than his predecessors – Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard. Yet, the red-zone offense got worse with Garoppolo. The onus is on Shanahan.

Shanahan is an offensive guru. Some consider him the best offensive coach in the league. How can he make getting to the red zone look so easy and scoring in the red zone look so difficult?

Click here to read the rest of my column.

This article has 214 Comments

  1. Of course Grant, Shanahan is nothing but a glorified OC….and not a very good one at that. That was uncovered and shared many months ago.

    1. And Grant still thinks he knows more than Kyle does . His ego is exactly like his dad and that is not good. Makes you wonder why if he is that a smart football genius he is working for the Press Democrat.

  2. In the 1st half they ran it 3 straight times with Morris. Then Jimmy G got sacked and then ran it again with Morris after the penalty on 1st down.
    Then Shanny calls run again and Morris fumbles. That’s 4 out of 5 runs. Not sure what your talking about when you say he’s doesn’t run it

    1. Those red zone runs seemed oddly slow developing. Almost like draw plays. I say seemed because I was in a noisy restaurant with poor TV view on those plays.

      1. -The best red-zone offenses commit to the ground game. Of the 10 teams that scored the most touchdowns in the red zone last season, seven ran more than they passed in that area of the field.

        He ran 4 out 5. Then the player fumbles so how can you win

    2. This is wrong Chris. They had one redzone trip in the first half. It went Inc to Garçon, complete to Kittle, Run, Run, Run, Run.

      Their next 3 redzone trips went scramble, Inc, Inc, FG followed by Scramble, Sack, TD pass on trip 3 and then completion, Inc, Inc on the last red zone trip.

      For the day they ran 16 plays in the redzone. 11 passes called to 5 runs.

      1. Yeah I was talking the first half when Morris fumbled. Its funny how you failed to mention the field position in those other trips to the redzone. But I guess the reason he went 11 to 5 was because that defense is so good against the run. It might just be the best in the league but my point is you cannot blame the play calling. He is one of the best if not the best and this offense is good because of him and Jimmy G, even though you have trashed both guys. Its week one and you made a point to already blame both guys. Nevermind the other 10 factors that happened last week with this offense

        1. Chris,

          “Yeah I was talking the first half when Morris fumbled.”

          Yeah I know you were, and when you said, “In the 1st half they ran it 3 straight times with Morris. Then Jimmy G got sacked and then ran it again with Morris after the penalty on 1st down.
          Then Shanny calls run again and Morris fumbles. That’s 4 out of 5 runs.” you were wrong. Once they got in the redzone on that trip it was pass, pass, run, run, run, run. So it was 4 out of 6 were runs, not 5. If you want to include the Garoppolo sack, which doesn’t count as a play due to the penalty, it was pass, pass, run run, pass, run, run, making it 4 out of 7 plays that were runs and making your argument worse.

          “Its funny how you failed to mention the field position in those other trips to the redzone.”

          Thought that area was universally known as the 20 in. My bad.

          “But I guess the reason he went 11 to 5 was because that defense is so good against the run.”

          Perhaps. But as Grant pointed out, there’s a history of him doing that anyway.

          “He is one of the best if not the best and this offense is goodbecause of him and Jimmy G”

          Yes it is, between the 20’s.

          “even though you have trashed both guys. Its week one and you made a point to already blame both guys. Nevermind the other 10 factors that happened last week with this offense.”

          Pointing out a trend that points towards a weakness for Shanahan is trashing him? Give me a break. And yes, Garoppolo did not play well on Sunday. If you can’t handle hearing that, sorry not sorry.

  3. Factors in redzone run/pass mix could be penalties. Or maybe they need a few pieces like a (explosive) power running back and another guard.

  4. still bitter about Kyle scoffing at your football acumen, or lack thereof, I see. That generally happens when one is out of his depth yet talks a big game.

  5. Grant,

    I love the article.

    Your gift is riling up us peasants who read your blog. Not coaching, not scheming, not game planning and certainly not trying to teach us the game of football.

    Stick to what you do best.

    And Foster is still a better LB than the talented Mr. Warner.

  6. “In that respect, he’s not cutting edge. The rest of the league is using RPOs like crazy and he isn’t.”
    If the rest of league are “using RPOs like crazy”, how can it be “cutting edge”? I’d characterize it more as a fad.
    Also, doesn’t it make sense that when a brand new QB with 4 weeks of game plan acquaintance takes over the helm, scoring efficiency in the most difficult part of the field will go down a notch? (It went down by 3% which is negligible change for a statistically-insignificant sample size).

  7. Grant,

    That RPO suggestion makes a lot of sense, especially in a situation where the oline is banged up. With the struggles on the right side this really could have helped those guys out by having them attack that side of the line instead of stepping back in pass pro.

    Another thought I had during the game, with that short yardage set up, why not try to run the fly sweep with Pettis and let him try to attack the edge and sprint to the pylon? The guy is great with the ball in his hands. Use him.

    1. Jack. I’m not sure about that fly sweep down inside the 10. Once again the field is too short for that crap. Too many things can go bad on that one, the defense is really crowding the line. Let’s not get fancy. Just pound the rock and DONT fumble. Just my two cents.
      On the other hand I dont care if they run a statue of liberty or a RPO. Just close the deal in the red zone.

    2. Good call. The Rams scored a touchdown on a type of fly sweep to Gurley Monday night. They were close to the red zone. I don’t remember if they were in it.

      1. Yes, the Rams were in the redzone. Yet, I seriously doubt McVay uses that redzone fly sweep without the availability of Gurley & Cooks.

        Jerick “Jet” McKinnon would have been a fly sweep menace. In fact, I’ll bet Kyle had a number of tricky little plays with McKinnon’s name written all over them. Of course Goodwin’s speed would make him a logical candidate, but even he missed most of Sunday’s game as well. I’m not sure I trust Breida yet. Richie James would be an option, at some point this season.

        Let’s face it. These injuries to key personnel are killing Kyle’s playbook! We simply have no way of knowing what this offense looks like this season if they were relatively healthy. All we really have to go on is pure, unadulterated speculation, nothing more.

        1. I mean, we do realize that Kyle had every intention of evolving the 49ers playbook this season, right? And that includes the redzone!

          Unfortunately, “the airplane never had a chance to leave the tarmac!”

          Or, because I simply love this quote, let me reprint this one from Bleacher Report: “Playing him (Garoppolo) against the Vikings during an injury rash was like driving a new hot rod through rush-hour city traffic without car insurance. No wonder he looked a little nervous.”

          Yah, when the Vikings pro-bowl DL is getting free runs at Jimmy G, often entirely untouched, it kind of goes without saying!

          1. YEAR 1 was all about installing this complex offense from the ground up. We saw just how long that can take even with a more experienced roster, as was the case in Atlanta. Matt Ryan will tell you just how frustrated he was throughout Kyle’s first season as OC.

            YEAR 2 was going to be about finding a franchise QB. Thankfully, landing Jimmy G. in year 1 greatly accelerated that process. Provided they found their QB, year 2 was going to be all about evolving and expanding the playbook. This is why Kyle and John went after McKinnon so aggressively. From what I understand, Kyle had identified Jerick as “the guy” last season. It was Jerick’s combined abilities as a runner, route runner, and sure handed receiver, that Kyle found so tantalizing, thus Kyle spent the offseason masterminding to evolve his offense, both inside and outside of the redzone. Jerick was the guy to take Kyle’s offense to the “next level!” That was the plan at least.

            YEAR 3 was all about putting it all together in all 3 phases. While there was a lot of hype surrounding this team heading into year 2, I think Kyle was realistically expecting it might take another season’s worth of growth in order to field a legitimate Super Bowl contender. After all, ShanaLynch still had a couple areas of concern heading into the season. Specifically OG, OT depth, and lack of a pass rush. The 49ers were eyeing a strong class of pass rushers coming out in 2019, as well as another year’s worth of development for the team’s first 2 year’s worth of draft picks.

            Well, the airplane hasn’t yet left the tarmac for YEAR 2. A huge number of key injuries have derailed an offseason’s worth of evolution, when it comes to Kyle’s offense. Thankfully it’s early. While Kyle will be without arguably his most important offensive weapon, (outside of the QB position), he still has a number of weapons for which he can re-tool his playbook accordingly. However, it’s simply not going to happen overnight. However, if they can’t find answers for this banged up OL, both in terms of pass protection, as well as run blocking, we might not see the kind of evolving offense we had hoped for until the following season.

            Unfortunately, that’s life in the NFL. I don’t care how good you are as a coach or as an offense, you still need to catch a few breaks along the way. Nothing can torpedo a season or a rebuilding process as quickly and as thoroughly as a whole bunch of injuries at key positions.

        2. Yeah I’d be running fly sweeps too if I had Gurley or Hunt all day long. I think you guys are forgetting Shanny has Alfred Morris and Breida.

            1. He’s not fast in short quarters, he’s fast long distances. To run a fly sweep you need someone with exceptional stop start speed, quick burst. Pettis is not that guy. Maybe Breida but he’s not Gurley or Hunt

              1. “To run a fly sweep you need someone with exceptional stop start speed, quick burst.”

                False. You need a guy who is fast and can sprint to the sideline. Pettis and Goodwin are both more than capable. I said Pettis first because he was the one in the game on Sunday.

              2. You basically have 10 to 12 yards to get to full speed on a Jet sweep and that’s my point,that Dante Pettis is not fast from a start to stop perspective in 10 to 12 yards. He is fast at 20 to 30 yards when he reaches full acceleration

              3. “He is fast at 20 to 30 yards when he reaches full acceleration”

                Yes, or right about the time he’d be hitting the end of the line and getting ready to cut upfield.

                I appreciate you trying to teach me about how the Fly Sweep works or the type of guys that work best in it. See the thing is, I spent years around the guy who pretty much perfected the Fly Sweep offense, Mark Speckman. He coached my brothers team in high school, and was someone that I spoke with on occasion while coaching since I adopted his offense.

                In case you aren’t sure who that is, it’s the guy who taught the fly sweep to Jim Harbaugh while he was at Stanford, along with many others including Mike Riley during his time at Oregon State.

                https://m.sfgate.com/sports/article/49ers-use-plays-from-offense-rarely-seen-in-pros-2379384.php

              4. A better option would be Marquise Goodwin, not Dante Pettis. I personally think that the jet sweep is a gimmick play that works once every five games anyways

              5. Jack you talk about Harbaugh like Sebnnoying talks about Kaepernick. The thing you are forgetting is both guys are irrelevant now in the NFL. No one is hiring either guy ever again. Not even his own brother!

              6. “I personally think that the jet sweep is a gimmick play that works once every five games anyways”

                Yeah, so did Mike Riley until he met with Speckman.

                “We were talking about his offense adjusting without Sammie Stroughter and incorporating the fly sweep. Riley thought it was a gimmick at first. But here’s where it came from.

                “We met with (coach) Mark Speckman at Willamette and he showed us how to run the fly sweep,” Riley said. “We left there overwhelmed. The way he did it was in a whole offense, and we weren’t going to do that. So we kept the base play.”

                And yes, it’s not a play that they should run week in and week out over and over again. They are putting guys in motion and faking it usually 2-3 times a game at least. They need to give it to him, especially when teams are crashing the box. Even if it doesn’t go, it will then perhaps move the eyes of the defense just enough to open up the inside runs that Shanny talked about yesterday.

              7. You might be right Prime. I just appreciate the fact that when he was coaching I was able to watch through the end of the playoffs with a true rooting interest for three years straight. Those years were a lot better than anything we’ve seen in the last 3.

              8. Not for me at all. I always knew Kaepernick could not sustain that style of play and once the players began tuning out Harbaughs message, then asking York to leave the dressing the room that was only for men, the end was near.
                I absolutely love what approach Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have taken towards rebuilding the 49ers organization. It’s still gonna take some time but this style and approach is sustainable, and I think that’s what every NFL franchise strives for. Build through the draft, develop your own and supplement through free agency which I think this offseason they start doing.

              9. I caught on late to the thread but I think we might be underestimating the value Shanny had in McKinnon within his offense.
                He was allegedly going to be the focal point and the passing game and run game were going to run through him. When he got hurt it almost seems they are in scramble mode.
                In the end Shanny gets paid the big dollars to put together an offense that uses the personnel that he has, whoever that is and wins games.

  8. The Niners DC needs to come up with a scheme to close the door the QB runs through every time a good rush has him cornered. There’s always a gap even a slow QB can run for a first down through. I think a stunt that has a rusher run around and come up the middle would do it or have a quick DB or LB spy the QB and sack him for a loss.

    The running game however doesn’t look as good now as it was last year with Hyde. I didn’t like that Shanny and Lynch passed on so many good backs in the draft. A top back would really help Jimmy G out. As good as McKinnon is as an RB/receiver there were better pure backs in the draft that were sorely needed. I felt McKinnon would have trouble staying healthy carrying too much of the load.

  9. The Niners DC needs to come up with a scheme to close the door the QB runs through every time a good rush has him cornered. There’s always a gap even a slow QB can run for a first down through. I think a stunt that has a rusher run around and come up the middle would do it or have a quick DB or LB spy the QB and sack him for a loss.

    The running game however doesn’t look as good now as it was last year with Hyde. I didn’t like that Shanny and Lynch passed on so many good backs in the draft. A top back would really help Jimmy G out. As good as McKinnon is as an RB/receiver there were better pure backs in the draft that were sorely needed. I felt McKinnon would have trouble staying healthy carrying too much of the load.

  10. People need to stop assuming that we’re no longer in a rebuilding phase. There are certain players( Cobert, Nzeoka, Tomlinson, Person) that are considered stopgap players until better options are acquired. We need at least another draft and off-season to fill out the roster and build better depth.

  11. Horrible article! This is based off 1 regular season game, Shanahan’s 2nd season, and a team him and Lynch are still rebuilding. Really? Judging the running game after 1 game? Everyone above thinks there a coach. Stay positive all, 49ers have a very bright future ahead.

      1. As I recall, least season’s red zone issues centered more around holding calls and pre-snap penalties* than Shannies scheme. I even quipped during game blogs, “oh great, Niners are in the holding zone now”. It’s pretty difficult when it’s goal to go from the 15 and beyond, that definitely calls for a run up the gut. This year’s very limited sample, it’s dropped passes and fumbles. All on the scheme, right?

        *don’t make me go back to game play by plays to the bolster my rebuttal. Grant, maybe you could do that to rebut my rebuttal.

        1. Penalties, dropped passes, turnovers are all terrific ways to deflect from the issue. All teams do those things in games. The best coached teams do them less and that’s why they’re more successful and coaches whose teams repeatedly make them end up fired.

          1. Again, using the gigantic one game sample of this current season, I didn’t see as many red zone penalties (were there any? I don’t think so) as there were last season. which seemed to happen every red zone trip. So it sounds like coaching has improved, and no need for Grant and you to hand Shanny his pink slip just yet.

            Garcon is known for his sure hands and I don’t believe Morris is known for his butterfingers, so perhaps this was is aberration in this gigantic one game sample. Had either of those plays turned out differently, this is all moot and you and Grant would have to be kvetching about something else.

            1. This isn’t about 1 game. There’s 10 seasons worth of data that backs this up. And you’re right, had they gone 3 for 4 instead this isn’t a topic of conversation because they would have won. But they didn’t, just like they didn’t win for the majority of last season.

              1. Rib,

                I was trying to keep the Harbaugh years out of the discussion because that usually leads things to go off the rails. Thanks for bringing that up though. In 4 seasons Harbaugh’s offenses did something twice that Shanahan’s have done only 3 times in 10 years, be in the top 1/2 in redzone TD %.

                The Harbaugh offense also was top 1/2 in scoring 3 out of 4 years. Shanahan led offenses have done that 3 times in 10.

                It’s not a favorable comp for Lil Shanny.

              2. Hammer:

                Especially when wins and losses are determined by points.

                Those points lead to wins lead to playoffs and, hopefully, championships. In that respect, Harbaugh hasn’t done anything in this league that Shanahan hasn’t.

              3. “In that respect, Harbaugh hasn’t done anything in this league that Shanahan hasn’t.”

                And this is why I didn’t bring it up.

                One thing Harbaugh didn’t do that Shanahan has done is have a losing season. Harbaugh also never lost 9 straight games. Harbaugh also went to the playoffs 3 straight seasons.

                When comes to wins/losses it’s not even worth the debate.

              4. Jack:

                While the percentage may be lower under KS, what percentage of drives under KS have resulted in the team being in the redzone as opposed to Harbaugh?

              5. Good question Cubus,

                Last year the 49ers averaged 3.2 redzone trips per game.

                In 4 years under Harbaugh they averaged 3.3 trips per.

              6. Whats with all this “season to season” talk? A while ago you had nearly convinced me that it’s meaningless to project from one season to the next.

              7. Rib,

                Maybe you can show me how that 5 game win streak helped the team against Minnesota.

                This isn’t projecting future success based off meaningless wins.

                Shanahan has been a redzone failure for 7 of 10 years as a play caller.

                Can he fix that? Yes. It’s up to him.

                Keep moving the goalposts though. It’s fun.

              8. Maybe you can show me how that 5 game win streak helped the team against Minnesota.

                Impossible to characterize. Too many variables – strength of opponents, availability of key players, individual execution, etc, etc.

                Shanahan has been a redzone failure for 7 of 10 years as a play caller.

                Impossible to characterize. Too many variables – strength of opponents, availability of key players, individual execution, etc, etc.

              9. “Red zone failure? Exaggerate much?”

                No. He has had 10 years worth of tests and passed 30% of the time despite his offenses routinely being good at getting to the redzone. That’s a failing grade.

              10. So many excuses

                If you are saying strength of opponent, availability of key players, individual execution are excuses and not factors game to game, season to season, that’s dumber than a box of hammers.

              11. Execution is his responsibility to maintain just like it is for all of the coaches who have been successful in that area.

                All teams deal with injuries. All teams play tough opponents. This isn’t the NCAA where you can pick tomatoe cans for nom-conference games.

              12. So how was his red zone efficiency with the Falcons when he had his full stable of rbs, a top tier wr and oline?

                Harbaugh was working with a far superior oline. That’s everything.

              13. Jack:

                It’s not only about the redzone. How does KS’ rate of TDs outside the redzone compare with Harbaugh’s? Or we could just look at rate of TDs per drive or how about points per game.

              14. One thing Harbaugh didn’t do that Shanahan has done is have a losing season. Harbaugh also never lost 9 straight games. Harbaugh also went to the playoffs 3 straight seasons.

                One thing Harbaugh didn’t do was defeat the Seahawks in the post season… One thing Harbaugh never had was a season scoring 34 a game… Neither has Shanny… as a head coach. But you are all over his record as OC as if he were the HC. We still have a few years to go in judging his record.

                I think we done here?

              15. Cubus,

                You first asked, “what percentage of drives under KS have resulted in the team being in the redzone as opposed to Harbaugh?” which is what I answered.

                Harbaugh’s teams averaged 23.3 pts per game. Shanahan’s have averaged 22.7, which is helped out by the 2016 Falcons team that was loaded.

              16. “One thing Harbaugh didn’t do was defeat the Seahawks in the post season”

                True. Harbaugh also never had the benefit of facing them at home. Seattle has been a much different team away from the Clink, where they haven’t lost a home playoff game since 2004 I believe.

                “One thing Harbaugh never had was a season scoring 34 a game… Neither has Shanny… as a head coach.”

                Neither has Shanny as a HC or OC unless we are rounding up to help your argument.

                “But you are all over his record as OC as if he were the HC.”

                No. When I say Harbaugh never had a losing season or lost 9 straight I am judging Shanahan by his record as a HC.

                “We still have a few years to go in judging his record.”

                No doubt. I never said otherwise.

                “I think we done here?”

                I don’t know, are we? You are the one who brought Harbaugh into the conversation.

              17. Harbaugh also never had the benefit of facing them at home

                What were you saying about excuses?

                I don’t know, are we? You are the one who brought Harbaugh into the conversation.

                No, I mean done by extrapolating Shanny’s success or lack thereof as an OC, on different teams from this one, on his initial success or lack thereof as a HC on this team after a single season of rebuilding.

              18. “What were you saying about excuses?”

                Yes, it’s the same excuse for every HC/Coordinator that’s traveled to Seattle for a playoff game since 2004.

                Sorry that you don’t like reading about the HC having an area of weakness that has followed him through every stop including his first season here.

                Time will tell if he can correct it.

              19. The PPG stat doesn’t show field positions. One thing Harbaughs teams had was a dominate defense. Shanahan doesn’t yet.
                A defense so good it was like an offense. Advantage harbaugh teams.

              20. md,

                Yes, that’s part of why Harbaugh’s teams were able to score so many points without putting up a high number of yards.

      2. And Grant still thinks he knows more than Kyle does . His ego is exactly like his dad and that is not good. Makes you wonder why if he is that a smart football genius he is working for the Press Democrat.

  12. Actually Shanahan ran the ball TOO MUCH in the redzone on first down, and it was very predictable. The time to run play-action is on first down when the defense doesn’t know what’s coming. On 2nd and long or 3rd and long, a pass is what everyone is expecting, and play-action has no chance to fool anyone. Also remember, the 49ers were without Goodwin and their two best right guards (run blockers) for most of the game.

    On the 49ers first trip to the redzone, 4 runs, 2 passes.
    2nd trip, 3 passes.
    3rd trip, 2 runs, 2 passes.
    4th trip, 1 run, 3 passes.

    7 runs, 10 passes, and most of the passes were in long yardage situations.

    Morris fumbled on the 1 yard line, Pierre Garcon dropped a touchdown pass, and George Kittle dropped what would have been a 50 yard gain, or more, right before the pick six. That’s 13-17 points that were left on the field. Execution is part of the game. Minnesota executed their plays better.

    Here’s a great stat: in 2016, Shanahan’s last year in Atlanta, the no. 2 team scoring redzone TD’s at 68.8% was…….

    the San Francisco 49ers. They also finished 2-14.

    The Falcons that year were no. 8.

    The 49ers need a big redzone target, e.g. Calvin Johnson, Rob Gronkowski, Alshon Jeffery-type receiver to help open up the running game. This is NOT going to be a playoff year, so they have the latitude to experiment, and MORE than enough cap space. Bring in 6′ 5″ Dorial Green-Beckham on a one year, non-guaranteed deal, that pays him the vet minimum of $590,625 (pro-rated 15 games). If he’s cleaned up his act and it works, the 49ers have a steal, if not cut him and drive on. This is still year two of the REBUILDING PROCESS.

    Most people forget that the first year that Aikman, Irvin, and Smith were together, Dallas missed the playoffs, and the next year got blown out by Detroit in the wild card round. They need a stud WR and a better line.

    1. “On the 49ers first trip to the redzone, 4 runs, 2 passes.
      2nd trip, 3 passes.
      3rd trip, 2 runs, 2 passes.
      4th trip, 1 run, 3 passes.

      7 runs, 10 passes, and most of the passes were in long yardage situations.”

      Your numbers are off slightly, on the 3rd trip they ran 3 plays once in the redzone, a Garoppolo scramble, Garoppolo sacked, TD pass to Pettis.

      They had a total of 16 redzone snaps. 5 called runs and 11 called passes.

      As for your assertion that they ran too much on first down in the redzone, they had 7 first down redzone plays: 4 passes to 3 runs.

  13. Boy that didn’t take long. Stick to your strength Grant. Human interest pieces, and that sort of thing. Thats where you excel. Always an enjoyable read. When you try to be smarter than the coach, as you often do, you usually come across as nothing more than a little snot nosed, bratty know it all. You topped yourself this time. Let’s see, Coach Shanahan or Coach Cohn? That is the question. LOL

    1. Juan, I agree. Grant should not call out JL on his periscope, and he should not have ended this last blog post with- ‘Get with it, Kyle.’. He needs to be more diplomatic, rather than snarky.
      .
      However, I will disagree with your contention that the human interest pieces are his forte. Until that last sentence, I totally agreed with the core argument of what Grant wrote. Grant does not want to coach. Coaches have no life, and keep their noses to the grindstone. Grant wants to Kibbitz. He wants to give advice to others.
      .
      How can KS get the ball into the end zone? How can KS design plays that do not run into the teeth of the defense? How can KS get his players to catch the ball? How can KS reduce the unforced errors? How can KS make the offense more focused and disciplined? How can KS make the offense more efficient and effective?
      .
      How can KS improve? KS just needs to hire an OC, and tell him to find the answers to those questions.
      .
      Maybe the least disruptive move would be to elevate Bobby Turner, from RB coach to OC. He has been coaching for 46 years, and has been an Offensive Coordinator. It would be a well deserved promotion, and they could hire back Tom Rathman to be the RB coach.

      1. Seb says:
        “Grant does not want to coach. Coaches have no life, and keep their noses to the grindstone. Grant wants to Kibbitz. He wants to give advice to others.”

        That sure sounds like you think Cohn isn’t a coach in the NFL, merely because he doesnt want to be.

        Your logic, as always, is broken

        1. Eel, Grant’s fiance’ would not be happy if Grant becomes a coach and she never sees him again all season.
          .
          Grant is happy with financial security, doing something he is good at, and trained for. He knows that almost all coaches eventually get fired, and coaches from losing teams get fired quickly.
          .
          Even KS may be fired after 5 more years, or less. He has a 5-12 record, so he has not set the football world on fire.

          1. Even KS may be fired after 5 more years, or less. He has a 5-12 record, so he has not set the football world on fire.

            At least push him out the door after an accurate accounting. 6-11.

      1. Wow! “We’ll see who’s right?”

        Since when is this a competition? Since when does your years of professional experience, education, and skill set as a 49ers “beat” writer make you a seasoned NFL offensive coordinator to make such claims? Seriously, Grant, that’s some gaul, not snarky as said by Jeb.

        By the way, Coach Shanahan is correct in saying that the players missed opportunities. He schemed most of the game correctly and placed his team in the position to make plays. Misfires by Garapollo, dropped passes by receivers specifically Kittle, wrong routes run, extending too much at the goal line, etc. seriously contributed to their failures, a team one at that.

        So, Coach is infallible? Nope. He’s human. He makes mistakes just like you and me. And just like you called him out in this article, many are calling you out for your incessant questioning of a professional in a completely other field.

        Seems like you take it too personally when Shanahan doesn’t agree with your questions at the press conferences. Be a pro, man, show some respect. Your point and argument are lost when the delivery and responses are petty.

        Just my dos centavos…

        1. “Since when is this a competition?”

          Since last year for Grant.

          “Seems like you take it too personally when Shanahan doesn’t agree with your questions at the press conferences.”

          Absolutely.

          KS mentioned how you can’t fully judge plays while watching a game on TV. I agree with that. It’s easy to say this play would have worked after the fact, not as easy to create a gameplan and call plays for 4 quarters.

          Dunning-Kruger is alive and well here.

          1. “not as easy to create a gameplan and call plays for 4 quarters.”

            This is a joke right?

            Shanahan is supposed to be a guru. Forget redzone stuff for a second.

            Shanahan coached offenses routinely have been in the top 1/2 in yards, 8 out of 10 seasons to be exact. That’s good.

            Shanahan coached offenses routinely have been in the bottom 1/2 in scoring, 7 out of 10 seasons to be exact. That’s not good. It’s really bad. Especially when wins and losses are determined by points.

            Shanahan’s offenses contain a lot of flash, but not much cash.

          2. ““not as easy to create a gameplan and call plays for 4 quarters.”

            “This is a joke right?”

            No, it’s not a joke. My entire post was clearly about Grant and not KS. Here’s the full sentence.

            “It’s easy to say this play would have worked after the fact, not as easy to create a gameplan and call plays for 4 quarters.”

            It’s clearly about Grant and Dunning-Kruger. I could easily pick an unsuccessful play for our offense, blame KS, and say my play or concept would have worked. No one can say for sure that my play wouldn’t have worked as it’s hypothetical. I can then say something like, get with Kyle. Hubris, Dunning-Kruger, take your pick.

              1. Good for him. I would have ran the ball at the end of the our last SB. Doesn’t mean it would have worked. Doesn’t mean I would have been able to get them to the RZ in the first place.

  14. This is a big part of what made me so excited about Mahomes:

    “He grew up around the highest levels of sports, as he spent most of his summers hanging out in Major League clubhouses. His father played for six teams over the course of 11 seasons (between 1992 and 2003), and Mahomes eventually developed an impressive list of role models. If he wasn’t watching Alex Rodriguez spending hours hitting off a tee, he was studying how meticulously Mike Piazza dissected tape of hitters or how Derek Jeter perfected his fielding habits.

    Mahomes wasn’t just enamored by what these future Hall-of-Famers did on the field. As his godfather, former Major League pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, said, “He learned about leadership, camaraderie, being in the same room and connecting with people from all over the world. He also learned what not to do.”

    http://www.nfl.com/labs/sidelines/patrick-mahomes/patrick-mahomes.html?campaign=tw-nf-sf197476188-sf197476188&sf197476188=1&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral

  15. This is a a carry over from the last topic.
    At least Shanahan gets 15 more games to correct this (over dramatized) issue.

    One game does not a season make.
    Stats are good, but they take away the probabilities and variables that occur in games, such as fumbles, dropped passes, overthrown passes, key injuries just to name some factors.

    Sure, a coach needs to put his team in position to win, but it’s just as important for players to execute.
    The loss on Sunday was a total team effort.

  16. http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/ct-spt-nfl-run-pass-option-20180818-story.html

    “By 2012, Babers had taken over Eastern Illinois and turned it into a Football Championship Subdivision power, quarterbacked by Jimmy Garoppolo”

    “At that point, Babers said, he started to dedicate a large chunk of his offense to RPOs that placed the safety in conflict, and others took note.”

    “As a rookie in the NFL, Griffin said, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle, Washington’s offensive coordinator who is now the 49ers’ coach, reviewed film of Griffin quarterbacking for Briles at Baylor. They discussed the system with Griffin, particularly the RPOs Griffin used, and merged the concepts into their West Coast offense, “which was brilliant,” Griffin said.”

      1. And it might explain why he scoffed at your RPO question. As if he never considered such a thing. He did it 15 times last year and did it a lot in Washington. He doesn’t need any lessons from you on RPO.

          1. Perhaps everything goes well according to your RPO plan, It’s open. But JG isn’t accurate or someone drops a pass. Is that Coach Cohn’s fault?

  17. Is there a possibility to bring Le’Veon Bell sooner than later?, I’m just asking, and how about Dez B. I know I know. sounds crazy, however Grant said the niners need a big receiver. and a big Running back. what do you guys think?

    1. Bell would cost too much and would only be ideal if he was the missing piece needed in order to be a Super Bowl contender.
      Coleman was chosen over Bryant by the Patriots. Nuff said.

  18. Here’s a suggestion. Kyle should hire Chip Kelly as part-time Consulting OC. Kyle calls all plays but red zone plays where Chip takes over since his Niners offense of 2016 was the most efficient red zone offense for the Niners in over a decade. Perhaps Grant can leverage his UCLA nexus to facilitate this “cutting edge” relationship, and contribute as the Assistant to the Consulting OC?

    But seriously, Grant’s question is valid, but his presumption is unproven. First, he needs to conclusively prove that “red-zone failures are a product of Shanahan’s approach”. He use (abuse) of raw red zone numbers is severely flawed. Below is one potential approach for a semi-meaningful analysis:
    Step 1: Examine the data for any correlation between Redzone Scoring Efficiency (RSE) and (a) talent level (e.g., average PFF score of all the offensive players over the season), and (b) number of seasons in same offensive scheme. I suspect that there is a positive correlation for both these independent variables with RSE.
    Step 2. Create RSE ranking groups (e.g., Superior, Average and Inferior) for all playcallers in the league based on some metric of RSE normalized by averaged talent level and average scheme experience level for each season. Then averaged the metric over all the seasons that the playcaller has been active.
    Step 3: Now compute Kyle’s metric for each year he has been playcaller. Find average and then you can assign him one of the rank groups, and see if your hypothesis was correct.

    However, an analysis like the one above would involve much more work than a hot take….

      1. Grant,
        I was referring to that numeric score that PFF assigns to each player after each game. That approach has flaws for sure, but it is still the only measure of individual player performance in the ultimate team game. I am not a fan of individual player grades, including yours. I would much rather have grades or scores assigned to a functional group like “passing offense” or “run defense”. I wish PFF would do something like that.

  19. The Niners just lost a tough game. They very easily could have won, if only they had not dropped the ball.
    .
    KS may fault the execution, but his scheme could be faulted, too. The red zone futility is a problem.
    .
    Hopefully, the Niners have learned that settling for field goals is a good way to lose.
    .
    It is disconcerting to see the Niners keep committing the self inflicted wounds, and they have not found a way to stop beating themselves.
    .
    KS may want to be HC and OC, but if the offense is sputtering in the red zone, he has a duty to think about the good of the team. KS needs to swallow his ego, and ask for help. KS should hire an OC. A good OC may reduce the unforced errors.

    1. Sebbie…. You would know a thing or two about ego. As such, you can quickly spot others who allow ego to impact their effectiveness–to get in the way. So, tell us how you break down Shanahan’s ego. Please don’t parrot Grant. Give us original thinking.

      A ten point KS ego reduction plan could be a by-product of your expert synthesis. BTW, hiring an OC doesn’t reduce Shanahan’s ego. What do you prescribe to lessen his (evidently) debilitating ego–intervention and comprehensive therapy, other?

      1. Cassie, your ego is showing. Why do you think that only I can formulate an ego reduction plan, why don’t you do that, since you seem to be an expert at everything?
        .
        With great power, comes great responsibility. KS cannot do it all, and the continued unforced errors prove it.
        KS is the HC, and he can do what he wants, but he is also responsible for every loss, too. If he continues with his -‘What, me worry?’ attitude, just be prepared for more losing.
        .
        I still cannot see how hiring an OC will hurt the team. It might help them win games.

  20. Hey Grant….

    You’re comfortable being on the edge, no? Who should be the 9ers head coach? Of all the pro and college head coaches and assistants, who should get the job…and why? You know who’d do the very best job. Don’t limit yourself to the HC if you feel the GM should be kicked to the curb too. Please share with us.

    Thanks in advance.

          1. And who provides this guidance…Jed? Denise? The media? The Ghost of 9ers Past?

            Or will be shamed by becoming a laughing stock amongst his peers?

            Or does he just ‘guide’ himself?

            1. It might be as simple as hiring an OC. KS can still call the plays, but the OC can instill discipline so they reduce the unforced errors, and make the offense more efficient and effective.

              1. “the OC can instill discipline so they reduce the unforced errors, and make the offense more efficient and effective.”

                That’s why he has position coaches. It’s the HC/OC’s responsibility to make sure the position coaches are reinforcing the things he needs for his offense to run.

              2. Well, the receivers coach should be concentrating more on making the players catch the ball.
                .
                Bobby Turner should be concentrating on getting the RBs to gain more than 90 yards.
                .
                The O line coach should not ask a raw, untested rookie to play a position he had never played before.
                .
                The OC could coordinate all those facets of the game, because it is in his job description. KS has to coach the defense and special teams, too.

    1. Yeah… That Falcon defense (players and DC) had absolutely nothing to do with the loss–they did their job in the second half, correct? It was looser Kyle vs the Patriot defense AND offense.

      So Capt. K, who should be the next 9er coach? Urban Meyer? David Shaw? John Harbaugh? Steve Mariucci? Herm Edwards? Brian Kelley? Other…?

      1. Falcons were on the Patriots 22 up 8 with less than 5 minutes left in the game. Perfect position to kick a FG and go up 11, basically ending the game right there. Instead Shanny calls for a pass on 2nd down, sack back to the 35. Ok, now it’s a tougher FG but still well within Bryant’s range. Calls another pass, this time there’s a hold.

        Those calls set up the Patriots by giving Brady a chance when he never should have had one in the first place.

        1. KS also dialed up a 7 step drop back to pass play, which allowed Hightower to run past Freeman for a strip sack. That was the crucial play of the game, and changed the momentum.

        2. Hammer…

          Yes or no, did the Falcons put 11 men on defense when the Patriot offense was on the field during the 2nd half of the SB?

          If yes, how would you characterize the performance of the defense? Lights out stellar? Pretty good? So-so? Kinda poor? Worst SB defensive performance ever?

          1. “If yes, how would you characterize the performance of the defense?”

            Tired.

            And yes, the defense faltered. It doesn’t excuse the poor play calling that took 3 points off the board which would have put the game out of reach.

  21. The Niners ran two QB rollout passes to the TE, on opposite sides of the field, in back to back plays to kickstart their offense.

    Why the frak isn’t he trying that play on the goal line? The Niners used to run a version of it with JR that was a gimme.

    How difficult is it to try these plays?

  22. It’s one game..one game sheesh! How about thinking positive.. after all that..injures…turnovers.. we still had a chance..we will be better as the year goes on.. football is back boys!

    1. I love the one game decides all mentality.

      Let’s cherry pick with Dante Pettis. If we go with one game performance, he’s on course to get 32 receptions for 976 yards and 16 TDs this season. Not bad for a rookie, no?

      1. Not bad at all. I know, it’s because of the Goodwin injury. But consider that Goodwin has had concussions, Garcon is aging and coming off of neck surgery, and Taylor always seems to be banged up. But we could have taken Nwosu.

        Nwosu only played two snaps Sunday.

            1. Now you’re talking big boi!!!

              I remember last time you told me I was the best package handler you have ever seen!!! ❤️❤️❤️

  23. Meh, just had this argument with Jack yesterday. Morris fumbles at the goal line. Garcon gets both hands on the ball in the endzone but can’t hold on. JG overthrows Kittle who is wide open in the endzone. Three TD’s missed because of lack of execution. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Shanahan’s offense in the redzone. You can cite 10 years as an OC but for several of those years, Kyle wasn’t calling the plays. This team needs to execute. You cite a declining red zone % late in the year – well how many more trips did the 49ers have in the red zone after JG became the starter? The TD % is going to go down with more opportunities. It’s basic math.

    Secondly, this article reminds me of the time last year that you claimed the 49er coaching staff was listening to you and/or reading your articles and making adjustments based on your recommendations. Still makes me laugh.

  24. These are the teams that scored the most TDs in the red zone last season, and here are their red-zone splits.
    1. New England — 99 runs, 86 passes, 42 touchdowns.
    2. Los Angeles Rams — 80 runs, 78 passes, 38 touchdowns.
    3. Philadelphia — 68 runs, 76 passes, 36 touchdowns.
    4. New Orleans — 70 runs, 73 passes, 32 touchdowns.
    5. Jacksonville — 77 runs, 53 passes, 32 touchdowns.
    6. Pittsburgh — 81 runs, 84 passes,, 31 touchdowns.
    7. Minnesota — 78 runs, 59 passes, 31 touchdowns.
    8. Dallas — 81 runs, 58 passes, 31 touchdowns.
    9. Baltimore — 77 runs, 71 passes, 30 touchdowns.

    League average — 60 runs, 64 passes, 25 touchdowns.

    49ers — 60 runs, 86 passes, 24 touchdowns.

    1. Does the quality of the OL have anything to do whether or not a play caller chooses a run versus a play?

      If I understand your assertions correctly, you are saying that zone blocking run schemes make it more difficult to pound the rock past the goal line. Of the stats that you list, it would be interesting to know which teams use predominantly zone running and which your power running.

      1. You can’t run traditional outside zone near the goal line. Have to run inside zone or gap schemes, or line up in the shotgun and run the zone read or an RPO.

        1. Tight zone or wide zone, depending on how the defense lines up. I like my fullback as my first pass option, followed by my TE when you’re down in the red zone. I also like to run behind my motion TE down there….

        2. Yep slow developing run plays are a bad idea when you get close to the goal line. You have to run something that hits quickly either run or pass because the area is so small and gaps close up quickly. RPO’s are very effective in a tight space because they offer that slight bit of misdirection that provides the extra fraction of a second to find the opening.

    2. Can you break down how many TD’s those same teams scored outside the 20 regardless of pass or run? Also how many trips into the red zone did those same teams have?

    3. Most “red-zone efficiency” analyses are fundamentally flawed for their reliance on the arbitrarily defined “red-zone.” Along with being based on an arbitrarily defined area of the field (the red-zone), red-zone efficiency does not account for other significant situational factors: down and distance to line-to-gain. These situational factors are critical to play selection elsewhere on the field, so why would they be ignored simply because the offense is operating within a certain part of the field?

      The space that an offense has to operate does not magically or dramatically change at the 20-yard line; there is progressively less room to operate at the 19-yard line than at the 20, the 18-yard line than at the 19, and so on. So, while I agree that run plays generally become more situationally viable than pass plays the closer an offense is to the goal line, I disagree that: (1) red-zone efficiency is a useful stat for supporting a particular play-calling strategy, and (2) a run-first play-calling strategy, irrespective of down and distance (and countless other situational factors that other commenters have cited), is a good offensive “redzone” strategy.

      As with any red-zone stat, “red-zone splits” tell us nothing about the best play-calling strategies without other situational context.

    4. Interesting fact based on your statistics. The Eagles led the league in TD % on Red Zone plays. They scored TD’s on 25% of the plays they ran inside the red zone. The Eagles also passed in the red zone more than they ran in the red zone. I know you’re going to throw out the RPO argument but thats lame. If you’re argument is that a team needs to be able to run the ball in the redzone because that’s what is successful then the read on the RPO should be more toward the run than the pass. Depending on the play calls, the Eagles stat could actually mean passing is more open than running in the Red Zone. The 49ers need to execute. They have the opportunities but are not capitalizing.

      From a math nerd perspective, I’d really like to break down the Red Zone into 2 stages –
      20-10 – Red Zone
      10-GL – Crimson Zone

      Where it gets really compressed is in the Crimson Zone. Of the 49ers 146 redzone opportunities, how many were in the crimson zone. How does their % of run inside the Crimson Zone compare to the rest of the league.

  25. Its a well know fact that Shanahan fumbled that ball not Morris, and Shanahan had all those EASY drops in the end zone…
    We need to change out HC asap…

    1. Your right Daniel. We left points out there due to various miscues. I dont think that should all fall on Shanahans shoulders. If we had been able to execute the most elementary aspects of football we would be talking about what a great upset it was and what tremendous momentum we would gain from it. We would.be talking playoffs and Super Bowl and over reacting in the opposite direction. It’s one game. We let it slip away. Let’s learn from this and move on to the Lions

  26. i feel like Grant and Jack colluded, this was basically what Jack said for half the last thread its 1 game,yall willing to eat crow in 16 weeks?this is a more appropriate conversation in about 8 weeks,just saying.

  27. I have a different take on the run vs pass controversy. It may not be only that the Niners need to run it more, they may just need to be more balanced. If they run it more, the defense will just stack the box and dare them to pass.
    .
    The Niners should study the play calling during the drive before ‘The Catch’. It seemed like the Niners ran when the Cowboys expected pass, and passed when they expected run. Being balanced means the defense must defend against both the run or pass.
    .
    I agree that the RPO should be employed more, even the zone read. The Niners will be threatening both the run or pass. With the use of the fullback, maybe they should employ the Veer offense with the fullback dive option. The Triple option could include the play action pass. Be unpredictable. Keep them guessing. Put them on their heels.
    .
    KS should study how McVay eviscerated the Raider defense in the second half by getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers in simple clever, unpredictable ways. That fly sweep was a forward pass, even though Gurley did most of the work running the ball.
    .
    I noticed that Juice had no carries. KS must get him involved in the running game, or the defense will start ignoring him, and will key on the RB.

          1. My grandfather came from Hiroshima to work on the railroads in the middle of Nevada. Guess he was a second son, with little prospects in 19th century Japan. My mother mentioned a drought, that caused many to move first to Hawaii. Her surname was Inouye. Can’t claim any direct relationship to the senator, although his parents came from the same area, I think.

            1. Carlin and Ely Nevada (more or less central Nevada) were important rail centers in the late 1800s through the mid 20th century.

              1. Yup. There were silver mines in Nevada, and my mother used to hear the church bell ring in the distance. She said it had such a sweet sound because it contained so much silver.
                .
                One of my grandfathers worked in the round house. He could tell if an engine needed servicing, just by putting his hand on it, and feel the vibrations.

  28. I can always tell from the headline itself that the article is written by this idiot! Always negative, always inflammatory, Grant Cohn is the TMZ of 49ers beat writers.

  29. Simply running the ball in the redzone is not enough (especially inside the 10). What formation you use is the key. RPO is one consideration. Others are to spread the defense with multiple receiver and then run draw plays.

  30. I think all of Grant’s points are valid. The jury is still out on Lynch and Kyle. Let us hope we see a better performance Sunday and a better draft and FA acquisition record next season.

  31. Yup, I agree allie.
    What ever happened to the “brick by brick” statement and “it’s going to take 3-4 years” for this team to become a viable playoff/SB contender.

    I don’t ever recall (even in the glory years) so much over reaction to one loss.
    All the numbers and stats over this loss is paralysis by analysis.
    It’s as if we forgot that there are 15 more games to go.

    1. “I don’t ever recall (even in the glory years) so much over reaction to one loss.”

      Yeah, its pretty nuts. One game against a very good team with an excellent defense.

      1. I’m not the one that said last years wins were meaningless. Whatever happened in the past (and even Sunday) with Shanahan’ RZ calls, falls under the same meaningless category.

        Time to put this loss behind us and move forward to the next game.
        Hopefully the current narrative changes against Detroit.

    2. AES: I think most of us figured the niners would lose to a better team – even if we stated a score on this blog showing the 49ers would win. It’s the fact that they were in the game and lost mostly because of their own mistakes that is causing the handwringing. I see it as encouraging, because as I said before, it shows they can be competitive against any team. Clean up the mistakes and we should have a winning, possibly playoff season.

      1. cubus,
        I agree with you. I shared the same sentiments after the loss in Minn.
        Our young team went head to head with a potential SB team.
        Yup, it’s encouraging.

      2. “Clean up the mistakes and we should have a winning, possibly playoff season.”

        Last year the team was in position to win 5 straight games at the start of the season but didn’t win any of them because of many of the same things we saw on Sunday.

        The division will belong to the Rams. It will take 10 wins to reach the playoffs. When you end up losing games you should have won it makes the task that much tougher.

        1. Last year, we had a new head coach, new GM, veteran and rookie QB’s that were getting killed because our Oline was a joke. Injuries to some of our starters. It’s a wonder that they won 6 games.

          At least we went from a dumpster fire (under the last regime) to an extinguished fire.

          Sure, Shanahan may have some flaws that have followed him along with the close game losses from last year, but a great poster on the blog once said that last season was meaningless.
          Imo, so was Sunday’s game.

          If Shanny has a bad year, than he will be worthy of any criticism. At the moment, he’s worthy of the time to correct the errors.
          I happen to believe he will.

    3. What the…? You mean there are more games? I thought the 9ers were done for the season…cleaning out lockers and emptying the parking lot.

  32. Grant: I don’t get why you are making statements that a team shouldn’t run outside zone inside the red zone. Shanahan agreed with you when you asked the question. So why are you insinuating that he calls outside zone plays in the redzone. Here’s part of his reply to your question:

    “Yeah, definitely. That’s why we didn’t run one outside zone inside the 10 yesterday. Three inside zones and one gap scheme. But, that’s not exactly it. I don’t want small offensive linemen who can run. I want big, huge guys who can run. The problem with big, huge guys who can run, you’ve got to have like the first pick in the draft to take them and I hope we don’t have that five years in a row to get five of them. “

  33. I check in a couple times a week and every once in a while I refresh my memory about whey I never “Click here to read the rest of my Grant’s column.”

  34. “Last year, I think we got better in the red zone as the year went,” Shanahan said Monday.

    “They didn’t. They got worse.”

    They were 60% in the last 3 games. That’s probably what KS meant. JG was seeing his first action as a Niner in the first 2 games.

    I also remember us running the clock and kicking a FG in the RZ because we didn’t need a TD to win. Sometimes (all the time) securing a win is more important than getting a TD in RZ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *