49ers film room: Breaking down Kyle Shanahan’s best red-zone weapons

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02: Carlos Hyde /
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49ers red zone
SANTA CLARA, CA – OCTOBER 02: Carlos Hyde /

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is bringing his historic offense to a new team with new personnel. We analyze Shanahan’s red-zone offense and break down the top-10 red-zone weapons for the 2017 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan’s 2016 Atlanta Falcons offense was the best offense in the NFL; the 540 points the Falcons scored was the seventh highest total in the history of the league.

Will Shanahan be able to duplicate his offensive success with the 2017 San Francisco 49ers?

Shanahan’s 2016 offense led the league in Football Outsider’s DVOA. Last year, the 49ers were 23rd in offensive DVOA, and their passing offensive ranked 28th in the league.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

When Shanahan arrived in San Francisco, he quickly worked with general manager John Lynch to remake the 49ers offense. The 49ers now have a new set of starting wide receivers, a new starting fullback and rookies competing for starting jobs at tight end and running back.

But Shanahan doesn’t have Julio Jones — one of the best wide receivers in the league — and Jones must be the reason the Falcons put up such gaudy scoring numbers.

Surprisingly, the data shows that Shanahan rarely used his star receiver near the end zone. While Jones was a force on the field, and was used to move the chains, he had limited impact in the red zone.

In 2016, Jones caught only two of quarterback Matt Ryan’s 23 red-zone touchdown passes. Instead of force-feeding Jones in the red zone, Ryan threw touchdown passes to 11 different Falcons.

Running back Devonta Freeman led the team in red-zone targets, to go along with his 50 red-zone rushing attempts. Jones had the team’s fourth highest market share of red-zone targets — and the same number as tight end Jacob Tamme, who only played half of the season.

If Shanahan didn’t use Jones in the red-zone, then which players  — and strategies — did he use? And which 2017 49ers fit best into Shanahan’s red-zone scheme?