Ohio State head coach Ryan Day recently outlined a team like the 49ers as a perfect fit for quarterback Justin Fields in the NFL Draft.
While he didn’t come out and say it directly, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day would seem to think the San Francisco 49ers are an ideal fit for his top prospective quarterback, Justin Fields, in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Day spoke with NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks on the Move the Sticks podcast last week (h/t Ryan Howe of 247 Sports) and offered up his thoughts on what kind of system Fields would thrive in.
Turns out, that scheme sounds an awful lot like the one used by Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan:
"I think, early on, an offense that is — run, play-action, get him on the move. He’s really good out of the pocket, controlled passing game. And then as time goes on and he starts to feel more and more comfortable in the pocket with the third-down and red-zone, drop-back passing concepts, he’ll continue to just build. And the more reps he gets at that, the better. But like any time you have a young quarterback, I think things where he’s on the move and athletic and you give him the ability to make plays outside of the pocket is going to be exciting to watch."
A run-first, play-action style of offense is precisely what Shanahan has dialed up during his coordinating and head-coaching tenure. The West Coast-hybrid offense features plenty of sideline-to-sideline movement, often using bootlegs with linemen going one way and a mobile quarterback going the other with a receiver working against the defender grain.
And as those crossing patterns develop and tire out the second and third level of the opposing defense, having a strong-armed quarterback then opens up the possibility of the well-timed deep pass on routes like the Yankee concept and post routes.
Sure sounds like Day is bought into the idea of Fields thriving in an offense where he can put his own unique talents to good use.
Ryan Day’s comments about Justin Fields make sense for 49ers
A “controlled” passing game could allow Fields the necessary development time to master Shanahan’s complex offense. Part of Shanahan’s system is designed to get receivers open, often with choice routes, and Fields merely needs to be on the same page as his primary receiver to see the option.
As time progresses and Fields develops, the hope would be for the Ohio State quarterback to take more advantage of his own intuition and playmaking style, giving Shanahan and the 49ers something they haven’t had with any of their quarterbacks since 2017.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is limited as an athlete and is no threat to scramble, meaning those bootlegs will never open up rushing opportunities when they’re there. And with Garoppolo — as well as Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who is seen as another fit — there’s no deep-threat arm strength in tow either, effectively eliminating any reliable usage of the well-timed deep pass.
Day clearly would understand what kind of system his quarterback would thrive in. It would be a scheme where the run helps set up the pass, and the multitude of misdirections and motions would make life exceptionally difficult for the defense to read.
And considering Fields’ own football IQ, Day is right to assume his budding prospect would be able to strike gold in a system like San Francisco’s.
Hat tip to FanSided’s Brad Berreman for the find.