AP photo

AP photo



Prior to the NFL Honors ceremony on Saturday, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York revealed that he would be unsurprisingly rooting for the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI. So will a lot of 49ers fans. After all, it's one thing to say that your new head coach was part of a Super Bowl. It's another thing to say that he has won one – and against a team that has a lot of Super Bowl experience like the New England Patriots.

The Atlanta Falcons offense, under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, has been very impressive this season. They ranked first in scoring, second in total yards, third in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards this season. In 2015, the Falcons led the league in time of possession (32:19). It was enough to earn Shanahan the Assistant Coach of the Year award on Saturday.

The Falcons' 540 points scored this season tied them with the 2000 St. Louis Rams for the seventh-most in NFL history. How impressive was their 2016 campaign compared to the rest of the league? Their points scored were 71 more than any other team this season and 176 points above the league average.

The Falcons scored 30-plus points 11 times this season – the third-most ever by an NFL team. They also scored 40-plus points fives times, including a 41-13 December 8 beatdown of the 49ers, which is the third-most in NFL history.

RELATED Report: Matt Schaub could follow Shanahan to 49ers

Shanahan was able to add to the historical season by dismantling two postseason powerhouses on his way to Houston, where Super Bowl LI will be played. The first was a familiar foe to 49ers fans – the Seattle Seahawks. Shanahan's offense dismantled the Seahawks defense in a 36-20 home victory. Then they routed the red-hot visiting Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC Championship Game.

The Falcons offense is good. Historically good. This season of statistical domination was engineered by Shanahan, who is widely expected to be named the new head coach of the 49ers as early as Monday. His quarterback, NFL MVP Matt Ryan, passed for a franchise record 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He had the league's best passer rating at 117.1.

Shanahan won't have a Matt Ryan in San Francisco. In fact, he may not have anyone at all and will likely be starting from a clean slate at the quarterback position. The Colin Kaepernick era in San Francisco is likely over. The quarterback will reportedly opt out of his contract and become a free agent in March. The 49ers do not have another quarterback under contract. One of the first duties of Shanahan and new 49ers general manager John Lynch will be to identify a target to be the team's quarterback of the future or, at the worst, identify a quarterback who can be a placeholder until the team acquires their quarterback of the future. Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub, a 13-year veteran scheduled to become a free agent, has already been linked to the 49ers and Shanahan.

There is no doubt that once Shanahan has his quarterback of the future and other key players in place, the 49ers offense will be successful. The offensive coordinator has done a lot with less than Matt Ryan. Over his nine seasons as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, Shanahan's offenses have ranked ninth or better in all but three seasons. They have ranked in the top eight in passing five times and have been a top five rushing unit three times.

There is a lot to be excited about with a great football mind like Shanahan's coming into town. Patience will be key for fans. The transformation will not happen overnight. It will take years to build something that remotely resembles what Shanahan had to work with in his best years. Shanahan may be focused on the New England Patriots defense right now, but following Sunday's game, win or lose, that focus will shift to the future of the 49ers.

Still, the 49ers should be more interesting to watch over the next few years, as fans observe what will hopefully be steady growth within the new regime. For now, fans will get one final glimpse of what a Shanahan offense looks like when all the pieces have been put into place before the work begins in San Francisco.

Below are the rankings of Shanahan's offenses during his nine years as an offensive coordinator.

Total Offense Season Rank
Houston Texans 2008 3
Houston Texans 2009 4
Washington Redskins 2010 18
Washington Redskins 2011 16
Washington Redskins 2012 5
Washington Redskins 2013 9
Cleveland Browns 2014 23
Atlanta Falcons 2015 7
Atlanta Falcons 2016 2

Points Scored Season Rank
Houston Texans 2008 17
Houston Texans 2009 10
Washington Redskins 2010 25
Washington Redskins 2011 26
Washington Redskins 2012 4
Washington Redskins 2013 23
Cleveland Browns 2014 27
Atlanta Falcons 2015 21
Atlanta Falcons 2016 1

Passing Offense Season Rank
Houston Texans 2008 4
Houston Texans 2009 1
Washington Redskins 2010 8
Washington Redskins 2011 14
Washington Redskins 2012 20
Washington Redskins 2013 16
Cleveland Browns 2014 20
Atlanta Falcons 2015 6
Atlanta Falcons 2016 3

Rushing Offense Season Rank
Houston Texans 2008 13
Houston Texans 2009 30
Washington Redskins 2010 30
Washington Redskins 2011 25
Washington Redskins 2012 1
Washington Redskins 2013 5
Cleveland Browns 2014 17
Atlanta Falcons 2015 19
Atlanta Falcons 2016 5