No. 1: Efficiency in the Red Zone
Kyle Shanahan and the red zone haven’t exactly been best friends during his tenure as both an offensive coordinator and head coach.
Niner Noise broke down some of the struggles and his preseason desire to fix them here, although the unfortunate trend of the offense failing to find red-zone pay dirt have seemingly continued into this season.
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Last year, Shanahan’s red-zone offense was just shy of 42 percent in touchdown efficiency, which was dead last in 2018.
One would figure Jimmy Garoppolo’s return, paired with some key offensive additions, such as Deebo Samuel and running back Tevin Coleman, would have helped improve this dramatically.
But it hasn’t. The Niners are converting red-zone trips into touchdowns just 45.5 percent of the time — 26th overall.
Part of the reason is Shanahan still has a tendency to get cute in the red zone. One example was Garoppolo’s interception tossed on a fade route against the Rams from the 1-yard line. Instead of using an intricate play call, a bullish rush up the middle might have been more effective and resulted in points instead of a turnover.
Either way, the Niners still boast a top-five defense, so no one is complaining. But there are going to be moments where Shanahan and Co. will need seven points instead of three.