49ers' YAC ability supported by this one passing stat


The 49ers are not an offense known for their deep passing ability. 

It's not often you'll see quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo take shots deep downfield, nor is it necessary to what coach Kyle Shanahan needs for his offense. 

San Francisco is currently 2-0 after beating both the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles to begin the 2021 season. In Week 1, the 49ers' offense beat Detroit on the ground and through the air, while in Week 2 they beat Philadelphia primarily through the air while struggling to run the ball. 

Garoppolo was good in both games, but this one passing metric shows how the 49ers' passing attack is heavily reliant on the yards-after-catch ability of their pass catchers. 

Per game, the 49ers are averaging 142 yards combined through the air. Don't get that confused with passing yards, this metric measures how many yards the ball is physically in the air for. 

Currently, the 49ers are 17th in the NFL with 508 passing yards. So how do they rank last in the league in air yards? 

Three words: Yards After Catch (YAC). 

The "YAC Bros" Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are two of the best pass-catchers at accumulating yards after the catch. 

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Garoppolo himself is ranked 32nd among quarterbacks in Intended Air Yards Per Passing Attempt with an average of 4.1 IAY/PA. That means that (on average) through two games, Garoppolo's passing attempts only travel just over four yards through the air. Quarterbacks near the top of the list in 2020 landed somewhere around 8.8 - 9.1 IAY/PA. 


In Garoppolo's last full season at quarterback (2019), he averaged 6.5 IAY/PA. Obviously, two games in 2021 is a small sample size, but it goes to show how important the yards-after-catch ability of the 49ers' pass-catchers has been to the overall effectiveness of the passing game. 

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