No. 2: 49ers own the NFL’s best red-zone offense
For weeks, we’ve been waiting for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense to come back down to earth in this particular category.
Except it hasn’t.
For years, both as an offensive coordinator and as San Francisco’s head coach, Shanahan’s red-zone offenses have typically struggled, which is something KNBR 680’s Brad Almquist pointed out in February of 2019:
"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."
Despite the injury-plagued issues of 2020, Shanahan’s 49ers finished seventh in red-zone touchdown efficiency at 67.3 that year, suggesting an upward trend.
So far in 2021, the Niners are first in the entire NFL at 77.4 percent.
San Francisco’s leading touchdown scorer this season has been wide receiver Deebo Samuel with 10, so it’s feasible his projected two-game absence with a groin injury could create problems.
Yet Shanahan has seemingly distributed the load elsewhere with players like running back Elijah Mitchell, tight end George Kittle, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and even Jimmy Garoppolo finding their way into the end zone with three touchdowns apiece.
Perhaps it’s the diversity behind Samuel that has revealed the formula for Shanahan to replicate red-zone success this season.