5 bold predictions for 49ers offense in 2020
By Peter Panacy
No. 4: 49ers Finish Top 5 in Red-Zone Touchdown Efficiency
Despite Kyle Shanahan’s prolific offenses over the years, including his time with the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons, his teams have never regularly had success in the red zone.
There are many reasons and speculation behind this, explained in further detail here, but the sheer numbers don’t lie. In 2018, albeit with a banged-up offense amid a four-win season, the Niners finished dead last in red-zone touchdown efficiency, finding end-zone paydirt just 41.2 percent of the time.
But despite last year’s overall offensive improvements, San Francisco only managed to get up to 55.6 percent, which ranked 20th best.
Previously, Shanahan’s wide receiver corps often featured short, shifty pass catchers who’d beat defensive backs with speed and elusiveness. In the tight confines within opponents’ 20-yard lines, those traits don’t always work.
So, perhaps, this explains why Shanahan and Co. have shifted strategy with targeting wide receivers. In 2019, the team drafted 6-foot-4 converted wide receiver Jalen Hurd, only to see him miss all of last year with a back injury, and that could have prompted the 49ers to take former Tennessee Volunteers wideout Jauan Jennings who, despite his lackluster speed, used his 6-foot-3 frame to break 39 tackles on 50 receptions a season ago.
Shanahan seems to be adding strength to his arsenal instead of relying on finesse, and that could ultimately put his red-zone offense where it wants to be in 2020.