49ers

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.

49ers confidence soaring as Garoppolo takes charge

49ers confidence soaring as Garoppolo takes charge

Jimmy Garoppolo spent three games as the 49ers’ backup before starting the past two games.

But just five games into his tenure with the 49ers, he is already considered a player everyone looks up to.

“Man, Jimmy’s been everything,” 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “He’s already a leader on this team. He runs this offense with confidence, and I think guys really believe in him. He keeps us up on the sideline.”

Garoppolo threw for 334 yards in the 49ers’ 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday after a scoreless first quarter.

“We didn’t start the game off great on offense,” Juszczyk said. “We missed some big plays and it would’ve been easy to tank, but Jimmy was right over there talking to us. It never fazed him. He was telling us to keep it up and eventually we’d punch it through.”

Juszczyk is one of several offensive players who has seemingly benefited from Garoppolo’s elevation into the starting lineup. Juszczyk had receptions of 31 and 29 yards to set up the 49ers’ first touchcdown.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin caught six passes for 106 yards after catching 99 yards in passes against Chicago. And tight end Garrett Celek added a 61-yard reception.

“The guys have played better,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “ I think they have done better as the year has gone. They’ve done great these last two weeks. I think when you’ve got a guy like Jimmy who has been making some impressive throws, who’s been doing it on the practice field and he’s carried it to the game, I think guys always know they’ve got a chance, and they lived up to it.”

Garoppolo was sacked twice and hit nine times. He stood in the pocket and delivered passes down the field during the game. Afterward, he stood up and complimented the pass protection he received from the 49ers’ offensive line.

“Jadeveon Clowney is one of the best in the league at what he does,” Garoppolo said. “I think those guys played great, I really do. You’re going to give up some things here and there, but overall I think it was a phenomenal day for those guys.”

49ers snap count: Lynch, Carradine earn way back onto field

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49ers snap count: Lynch, Carradine earn way back onto field

HOUSTON – Before the 49ers’ defensive line competes on Sundays, a healthy battle appears to be taking place on the practice field among themselves during the week.

With 11 defensive linemen on the team’s 53-man roster, one big decision on game days for the coaching staff is to determine which eight players will suit up.

On Sunday, defensive linemen Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine got the nod, while Ronald Blair and Leger Douzable were relegated to watching from the sideline in team-issued sweats.

Lynch and Carradine played 27 and 26 snaps, respectively, as part of the team’s defensive line rotation in the 49ers’ 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Lynch was on the cusp of getting released just two weeks earlier, according to a source. But after two strong weeks of practices, he was active for the first time in six games. Lynch responded with four tackles and a fumble recovery.

Carradine, who was a healthy scratch a week earlier against the Chicago Bears, contributed two tackles.

Douzable had been one of the bright spots after being re-signed in the middle of the season due to a rash of injuries across the defensive front. Blair was inactive for the first time since he came off injured reserve with a thumb injury sustained during the exhibition season.

Recently claimed defensive linemen Sheldon Day and Cassius Marsh continued to see significant action. Day played 34 snaps, while Marsh saw action on 33 plays. Day and Marsh contributed two tackles apiece.

The 49ers had only one player who missed the game due to injury. Coach Kyle Shanahan said offensive tackle Trent Brown informed the team Sunday morning he would be unavailable due to a shoulder injury.

"I kind of had a feeling (Saturday) night just watching walk through, but didn’t know for sure until (Sunday) when he came in and let us know," Shanahan said.

Veteran Zane Beadles filled in for Brown at right tackle despite playing out of position.

"He’s definitely much more of an inside player," Shanahan said. "Zane doesn’t hesitate. He loves the challenge. He will go out there and battle anyone. That’s why he’s a guy we love going to war with because you know you’re going to get your best and he’s someone you can count on. I know all the players believe in him.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

OFFENSE
(73 plays)
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 73
Running back – Carlos Hyde 41, Kyle Juszczyk 36, Matt Breida 32
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 52, Trent Taylor 31, Kendrick Bourne 31, Louis Murphy 29, Aldrick Robinson 26
Tight end – Garrett Celek 61, George Kittle 20, Logan Paulsen 6
Offensive line – Joe Staley 73, Zane Beadles 73, Laken Tomlinson 73, Daniel Kilgore 73, Brandon Fusco 73

DEFENSE
(67 plays)
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 53, Solomon Thomas 44, Sheldon Day 34, Cassius Marsh 33, Aaron Lynch 27, Elvis Dumervil 26, Tank Carradine 26, Earl Mitchell 25
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 67, Brock Coyle 48, Eli Harold 20
Cornerback – Ahkello Witherspoon 56, Dontae Johnson 52, K’Waun Williams 47, Greg Mabin 26, Leon Hall 19
Safety – Eric Reid 67, Adrian Colbert 67

SPECIAL TEAMS
(34 plays)
Marsh 25, Dekoda Watson 23, Mark Nzeocha 19, Dexter McCoil 19, Elijah Lee 19, Mabin 19, Bradley Pinion 17, Harold 16, Robinson 15, Johnson 14, Kyle Nelson 11, Victory Bolden 10, Paulsen 10, Celek 10, Hall 9, Witherspoon 9, Robbie Gould 6, Darrell Williams 6, Buckner 6, Reid 6, Thomas 6, Staley 6, Beadles 6, Tomlinson 6, Kilgore 6, Fusco 6, Breida 6, Taylor 6, Colbert 5, Juszczyk 5, Coyle 4, Mitchell 4, Foster 2, K’Waun Williams 2, Lynch 1, Dumervil 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB C.J. Beathard
OL Tim Barnes

INACTIVE
RB Jeremy McNichols
DB Antone Exum
LB Pita Taumoepenu
OT Trent Brown (shoulder)
DL Leger Douzable
DL D.J. Jones
DL Ronald Blair