No. 1: The Two-Headed Approach at Running Back
A year ago, head coach Kyle Shanahan employed a running back tandem with the Atlanta Falcons. It featured runners Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Freeman was more of the featured back, netting 1,079 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Coleman, as the supplementary back, reached 520 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
Niners Wire’s Jerod Brown argued Shanahan should employ the same sort of approach with Carlos Hyde and rookie Joe Williams this season, although Brown suggested Hyde would be the better complementary back.
"Outside zone runs often force defenders to overpursue, fearful of edge runs becoming scores. Williams can be the bait to force defenses to overcommit, leaving an opportunity for Hyde to punish anxious defenders up the middle with power and counter runs that suit his abilities."
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If this winds up being the case, Williams would wind up getting the lion’s share of carries this season. It’s not a bad idea, per se, but one also has to consider the rookie may not quite be ready for the kind of impact other first-season tailbacks — like Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott or Arizona Cardinals’ David Johnson — had in their rookie seasons.
Regardless, this two-headed approach would accomplish one important thing — establishing the criteria by which an effective Shanahan offense can be built in Santa Clara.
Additionally, these five reasons should be enough to convince critics Hyde’s time in San Francisco isn’t over.
Not yet in the least.