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49ers Offense Will Be Even Better in 2020

Gilbert Brink
Jun 30, 2020 at 7:11 AM


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In 2019, the 49ers fielded one of the very best offenses in the NFL. Come this fall, the 49ers offense will be even better.

This past season the 49ers ranked 4th in the league in total yards, 2nd in the league in rushing yards and 2nd in the league in points per game. Truth be told, there isn't much room for improvement. Or is there? While they could only improve slightly in league ranking, they certainly can improve in terms of overall production heading into Kyle Shanahan's fourth year as head coach/offensive play-caller. In Super Bowl 54 it was apparent that the 49ers needed just a little bit more. Clinging to a 20-10 lead with just over 7 minutes to go, the 49ers failed to answer the bell rung by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. With these few key changes made this off-season, the 49ers will be ready to fire back in any and every game of the 2020 season.

Jimmy's True 2nd Year


Leading your team to the Super Bowl in your first year as a starter is quite impressive, or at least, it should be. Garoppolo tends to shoulder a lot of blame for the devastating Super Bowl loss in February, it comes with the territory. Quarterbacks usually get too much of the credit and the lion's share of the blame. Despite what his critics say, what Garoppolo did in 2019 was nothing short of remarkable. Returning from a 2018 season-ending knee injury to lead your team to a 13-3 record, tossing 27 touchdowns and beating the Seahawks in Seattle to clinch the #1 seed in the NFC, you really can't ask for much more than that from a player in his first full year as an NFL starter.

Guess what? He's only going to get better. Quarterbacks, in general, improve the longer they are in a system, and quarterbacks playing their second year under Kyle Shanahan have shown a significant increase in production. Take a look at two former Shanahan QBs and their improvement from year 1 to year 2.

Matt Schaub, Texans Comp% Yards TD's Int's QB rating
2008 66.1 3,043 15 10 92.7
2009 67.9 4,770 29 15 98.6

Matt Ryan, Falcons Comp% Yards TD's Int's QB Rating
2015 66.3 4591 21 16 89.0
2016 69.9 4944 38 7 117.1

The numbers speak volumes. Both QBs performances in their 2nd year under Shanahan's tutelage not only improved, but improved dramatically. Everything ever said about Jimmy Garoppolo leads one to believe he is a tireless worker who is constantly honing his craft. Once again, look at those spikes in performance, and remember that in 2019 Garoppolo threw for nearly 4,000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and recorded a QB rating of 102. If Garoppolo follows suit, as he most certainly will, and improves on his 2019 performance, you're looking at a potential NFL MVP-type season for him in 2020.

O-Line Improvement


The road to championships is paved by the offensive line, and this unit will be the most improved unit for the 49ers in 2020.

How could a team lose a franchise legend at LT and consider its offensive line improved the following season? Joe Staley is truly one of the great 49ers of all-time, and his retirement in April left a hole in the offensive line for all of zero seconds. During the time that 49ers GM John Lynch was wheeling and dealing on draft weekend, Joe Staley had already notified team officials that he was retiring. Enough thanks cannot be given to Staley, a man who endured the highs and lows of the 49ers experience for 13 seasons. Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice, NaVorro Bowman, Frank Gore; all of these players are franchise legends, and not one of them played his entire career with the 49ers as Joe Staley did.

Nobody can replace what Staley brought to the offensive line, but a younger, more well-rested, and more physically gifted LT Trent Williams will make the transition much easier. Injuries caused Staley to hang up his cleats, Trent Williams hasn't stepped on the field in a year and a half. It can be argued that Williams could actually be a stronger, more athletic LT than Staley. His connection to Kyle Shanahan gives the 49ers some assurance for continuity, as one of the strengths of this 49ers team is clearly its chemistry. We'll all miss Joe, but the excitement around the arrival of Williams is legitimate and warranted.

Switch over to the right side of the offensive line and the 49ers just saw the retirement of one of their other starting lineman who played in the Super Bowl. RG Mike Person is no Joe Staley, and his retirement came after the 49ers released him in April. Never considered the solution at RG, Person manned that post for two seasons and was a serviceable player filling in for the disappointment of G Joshua Garnett. Forever a journeyman, Person slipped under the radar as a culprit to the 49ers' downfall in Super Bowl 54. The 49ers often gave up pressure through the middle of their line, and on the biggest stage, it cost them the ultimate prize. As much as fans bemoan the errant pass from Garoppolo to Sanders, Chris Jones dominating the interior line in the 4th quarter was the real issue.

Introducing Daniel Brunskill, offensive lineman extraordinaire. He can play LT, RT, and either guard position. PFF graded him out at 73.0, higher than starting RT Mike McGlinchey's 67.5. Brunskill currently has the inside track to securing that RG job and would be an immediate upgrade over the mundane Mike Person. Essentially, the 49ers replaced their weakest offensive lineman with a 26-year-old who can play almost every position on the line at an above-average level.

The improvement of the line goes well beyond starting LT and RG. The 49ers added T Colton McKivitz with the 153rd pick in the 2020 draft. According to GM John Lynch, McKivitz was the backup plan if the Trent Williams deal fell apart. Ben Garland, who started in the Super Bowl as the replacement for C Weston Richburg, is back on a one-year deal, and the 49ers will be welcoming swing tackle Shon Coleman back from injury as well. Let us not forget the battle-tested T Justin Skule, who filled in for Staley in 2019 and helped keep the 49ers undefeated during his time in the line-up. This team will be ready for whatever comes its way on the front lines this fall.

Receiver Reinforcements


The 49ers caught some bad breaks to their receiving corps in June. Emerging star Deebo Samuel and #1 return man Richie James Jr. were both sidelined with injuries that could bleed over into the regular season. Add these losses to the departure of veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders, and it looks like the 49ers will be starting behind the 8 ball when it comes to the WR room. In Super Bowl 54, the team mainly utilized three wide receivers: Sanders, Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne. Come Week 1, only 1 of these players might be available, yet, the 49ers should not be worried.

The cavalry is coming, and Jimmy Garoppolo will be adorned with weapons to carve up opposing defenses. During his initial run in 2017, Garoppolo developed a strong connection with Trent Taylor. After two injury-riddled seasons, Taylor is looking to return to form as a chain moving slot-machine in the middle of the field. Another player returning from injury is 2019 3rd round selection Jalen Hurd. Much has been written about his potential. If Deebo Samuel's versatility excites you, wait until you see what Kyle Shanahan has planned for this former running back. Remember how good Marquise Goodwin looked in this offense in 2017? He might be gone, but the 49ers nabbed a very similar WR with Travis Benjamin in free-agency. He might be all speed, but it's a necessary element that his fellow receivers aren't equipped with (not on paper at least). Hell, the 49ers still have a once-promising Dante Pettis lingering around as well. Even 7th round pick Jauan Jennings has turned some heads with his ferocious approach to running through defenders rather than away from them.

These are the ancillary pieces, the players who could potentially work out and be a compliment to the young WR corps. That talented WR corps boasts one first-round draft pick, and he's the highest-drafted WR by the Shanahan/Lynch regime; he is WR Brandon Aiyuk. In a draft in which the 49ers had the opportunity to select top prospects Ceedee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, they coveted Brandon Aiyuk over both of these higher-profile players. Aiyuk's ability to gain yards after the catch seems tailor-made for this offense. If the 49ers hit on Aiyuk, he could be the crown jewel to the 49ers 6th championship.

The defense may have carried the 49ers to Super Bowl 54, but this may not be the case in 2020. It may not need to, because this offense is primed for the big time. As a great 49er once said, "get your popcorn ready!"
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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