3 stats in which 49ers may regress in 2021

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Jeff Wilson, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson (41) scores against Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Nick Dzubnar (48) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 2: 49ers’ Red-Zone Offense

2020 Stats: 67.3% touchdowns in red zone, seventh best in NFL

Overall, the 49ers offense left a lot to be desired in 2020, namely with three different starting quarterbacks, a banged-up crop of ever-rotating running backs and multiple pass-catchers out with injuries.

Interestingly enough, though, the Niners made the most out of red-zone opportunities when they got inside opponents’ 20-yard lines last season, scoring touchdowns over two-thirds of the time and finishing seventh best in this crucial category.

Sounds great, right? And with a fully healthy array of weapons, namely tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, this number should stay about the same.

Well, perhaps not.

Historically speaking, Kyle Shanahan-led offenses have not done well in this area, as former KNBR 680 columnist Brad Almquist broke down before the 2019 season:

"The 49ers’ run-pass distribution [in 2018] didn’t deviate much from their typical ratio: they passed 53 percent of the time in the red zone, as opposed to 58 percent throughout the remainder of the field. Kyle Shanahan has had trouble finding the right formula. Despite his reputation as one of the NFL’s most talented play-callers, he has historically struggled in the red zone. His two 49ers teams have finished No. 27 and No. 32 in red-zone offense. In 11 years calling NFL offenses, Shanahan’s units have twice finished in the top-10 in red-zone efficiency. His best team, the 2012 Washington Redskins, finished fourth with a 61.8 percent success rate. One year later, they sunk to No. 21."

Those struggles carried over into 2019, too, where the Niners had the 20th-best red-zone offense (scoring touchdowns only 55.6 percent of the time) despite owning the league’s second-best overall scoring offense.

Odd. But telling.

It’s likely San Francisco’s red-zone efforts wind up being closer to the median of Shanahan’s historical numbers in this crucial area of the field, meaning a regression is probable.