George Kittle calls Kyle Shanahan 'wizard,' tells story of his genius

George Kittle calls Kyle Shanahan 'wizard,' tells story of his genius

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL, and while the successes of the offenses he has overseen certainly support that reputation, it might not do him justice.

Shanahan's genius was on display at one point during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game. Prior to a crucial third-down play, cameras caught him informing the sideline referee that a Green Bay Packers defender was about to commit a pass interference penalty.

"5-yard out route, 85 versus their guy," Shanahan told the official. "He's gonna go inside and break out, (the defender) won't let [tight end George Kittle] out. Watch." 

Just as Shanahan had predicted, the defender held on to Kittle as he was breaking out of his route. Two penalty flags immediately were thrown, giving San Francisco an automatic first down.

That wasn't the first time Shanahan predicted that exact sequence would occur. Kittle recently joined Barstool's "Pardon My Take" podcast and explained that Shanahan knew that would be the result when the play was installed in practice.

"No, he said that when he installed the play on Thursday for a third-down play," Kittle said of Shanahan. "He goes, 'Look, when we're in this formation and this guy covers you, he always holds. So just push him inside and break out, he's gonna hold you.' And I was like, 'All right, sound good.' And then it happened. 

"Like I said, the dude's a wizard. It's pretty fun to play for him."

[RELATED: Report: Kittle, 49ers have 'disconnect' over new contract]

Kittle has developed into the best tight end in the league under Shanahan's tutelage, so it's no wonder why he enjoys playing for the 49ers wizard ... err, coach.

The 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFL that gives them an advantage on the field nearly every time out. But clearly, they often have a significant advantage on the sidelines as well.

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49ers' Raheem Mostert was NFL's third-most explosive runner in 2019

49ers' Raheem Mostert was NFL's third-most explosive runner in 2019

We know 49ers running back Raheem Mostert is a supreme athlete. How supreme? Well, last season, he was the third-most explosive ball-carrier in the NFL.

NFL.com's Nick Shook has been taking some deep dives into "Next Gen Stats" throughout the last few weeks, and on Wednesday, he delved into the most explosive runners the league has to offer. In order to do so, he had to establish some criteria.

In order to qualify for the top 10 most explosive runners from last season, each player had to attempt a minimum of 100 carries, at least 20 of which went for 10-or-more yards. Then, to determine the hierarchy, the percentage of runs in which they reached 15 mph or faster was the defining factor. Once the numbers were crunched, it painted Mostert in some astonishing light.

Last season, Mostert reached 15 mph or faster on an amazing 28.5 percent of his touches, which was the third-highest rate in the league behind Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. To further that, he reached at least 20 mph on four rush attempts, a benchmark equaled by only seven other players; Mostert accomplished the feat with fewer total carries than any of them.

In fact, Mostert's average speed of 13.75 mph per touch ranked first among all running backs who had at least 100 touches last season. That's blazing fast. If that number is difficult to believe, well, just turn on the tape of the NFC Championship Game, in which Mostert accounted for four touchdowns and 226 yards from scrimmage on 31 total touches. I guarantee you the Green Bay Packers believe it.

[RELATED: 49ers' Mostert looks forward to running behind Williams]

Mostert seemed to pick up momentum as the season wore on, and projects to have a much bigger role in San Francisco's offense in 2020. His explosiveness is a tremendous fit for coach Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme, and there is every reason to believe the 49ers will be even more potent on that side of the ball in the season ahead.

If he stays healthy, Mostert should blow his previous career-high for touches in a season out of the water. If that's the case, well, good luck catching up to him.

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49ers' Raheem Mostert eyes Hall of Fame following breakout 2019 season

49ers' Raheem Mostert eyes Hall of Fame following breakout 2019 season

Raheem Mostert went undrafted out of Purdue University and was waived and/or cut by six different NFL teams before he made his way to the 49ers in 2016 and landed a spot on their practice squad. After seeing his 2017 and 2018 seasons cut short due to injury, Mostert finally got the opportunity he had long been waiting for this past season, and he certainly did not waste it.

A special-teams standout -- partly out of necessity -- throughout his career, Mostert had always been an effective rusher for San Francisco, albeit in limited opportunities.

After carrying the ball 40 times over the previous two seasons combined, he received a much larger share of the workload in 2019, particularly down the backstretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. He rushed for 772 yards on 137 carries -- a 5.6 yards-per-carry average -- and eight touchdowns in the regular season, seven of which came in the final six weeks. Then, in the NFC Championship Game, he proved to be a problem for which the Green Bay Packers had no answer.

29 carries, 220 yards and four touchdowns. A conference title game performance for the ages.

Afterward, prominently featured on the stage and surrounded by his NFC Champion teammates, Mostert was able to reflect on his storybook NFL journey.

"I had one of those things where I just relived everything that was going on in my life," Mostert explained Tuesday on "The Pat McAfee Show." "I had my son with me on that stage. That was the most inspiring thing that I possibly could do in my lifetime right now. It was just one of those things for me where I just soaked it all in and looked back on my track record and the things that I've done."

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In the time since, Mostert has used that precious moment as motivation. 

"It really opened up my eyes to, 'Hey, look, I did this. Why stop? Just keep going, keep doing the right things, the necessary things in order to be great,'" he continued. "That's something I want to be, man. I want to be able to have a gold jacket, and the only way to do that is to be great."

The 49ers had the top rushing offense in the NFC last season, and Mostert was a significant part of it. If he wants to make it all the way to Canton, though, he'll have to pick up where he left off, and maintain that for quite some time to come.

It might not be likely, but it's not impossible, and it stands to reason that Mostert will be more involved in the rushing attack right off the bat next season. While San Francisco currently has a crowded running back group, including Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson and Jerick McKinnon -- it won't necessarily remain that way.

[RELATED: How 49ers' Super Bowl loss could have helped save lives]

Regardless of how the carries shake out, Mostert is confident the experience that group gained in nearly winning the Super Bowl will be beneficial moving forward, and potentially help push the 49ers over the top.

" ... we're not going to have the same team next year," Mostert said. "There are going to be some different pieces moving around, but the guys that did experience that, it's one of those things where we just gotta continue to build off of and do what we gotta do to get back there -- and to win."