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Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports


Deebo at RB? Jennings at FB? Why the position changes can even confuse 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Nov 24, 2021 at 4:17 PM--


San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel played 10 snaps in the backfield, rushing eight times for 79 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He wasn't the only receiver that lined up in the backfield. Jauan Jennings had one snap as a fullback.

And let's not forget Trent Williams, who was an eligible receiver on one play. However, it's not like he lined up on the outside. And everyone knew Jimmy Garoppolo was likely going to look in the big offensive lineman's direction, leading to the defense being aggressive with him on coverage.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR on Wednesday afternoon and explained why playing some of his guys out of position, as was the case with Samuel and Jennings, can be a significant advantage and confuse opposing defenses.

"When everyone's assigned a certain player in man coverage," Shanahan explained on the Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show, "and they're looking for them by the numbers or in the slot every single play their whole life, and then you break the huddle very fast, and you snap it in one second, no one really can find that guy who's all of a sudden in a three-point stance behind the quarterback."

Of course, that can sometimes lead to Shanahan and the 49ers coaching staff being confused too.

"You try to just do that stuff, and unfortunately, it kind of confused us a little," Shanahan admitted, "because when we snapped the ball, it looked like they had 11 guys inside the box because no one knew where to go, and we ended up busting a couple of guys open.

"But you don't always know how it's going to play out. It's some of the different things with doing something that's unexpected. You feel like someone's going to get open, but you don't know exactly how they're going to react to it."

After two impressive back-to-back games that featured a heavy dose of the 49ers' rushing attack, it will be interesting to see how the team attacks the Vikings on Sunday. Both squads are 5-5, and a win would significantly boost the victor's playoff chances.

According to ESPN's Football Power Index, San Francisco enters Week 12 with a 54 percent chance of making the playoffs. A win would increase that to 70 percent. But, a loss drops the percentage to 30. The Vikings' chances would see a similar increase or decrease, depending on the outcome of the game.


You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.

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