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Examining the Red Zone Issues & How to Fix Them

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Among the many horrific things the 49ers did last year, the team's red zone efficiency was yet another area where we were the absolute worst. No exaggeration, the numbers don't lie. So let's look at those.

By the Numbers:
-49ers were #32 in Red Zone TD scoring percentage, at 41.18% (next lowest was JAX at 44.12% -- almost 3 percentage points higher)
-49ers ranked #31 in the NFL in yards per carry inside the 20 at just 1.06 yards.
-TE George Kittle ranked #12 in Red Zone targets, but was tied for last in Red Zone TDs among players with 15+ targets.
-49ers quarterbacks had a combined 75 red zone pass attempts, ranking #10 in the league. However...
-49ers quarterbacks were a combined 44/75 (59%) for 15 TD, 4 INT inside the 20. Mullens was #12 in the NFL in completion % but threw 3 of our 4 red zone interceptions. The one other interception came from Beathard due to Celek's horrific drop turned INT.

Explanation Behind the Numbers:
-Richburg's inability to anchor due to his injury and Person's lack of power in the run game were exposed. Teams pinched on them.
-We lacked a power back until Wilson played, but his fumble in scoring position and other places lost him the coaches' trust.
-The combination of the above two things made it near impossible to run inside, so our options became limited, and we became easy to defend along with being predictable when it came to running in the red zone. These issues created a major barrier in Kyle's ability to scheme points on the board, whether we called run or pass.

How to Fix The Issues:
-More Size/Power: The addition of Tevin Coleman and the versatile Jalen Hurd add power & schematic flexibility inside the 20.
-More Size/Power (Part 2): We need a healthy Richburg & root for Garnett to supplant Person, who lacks his mauler strength.
-More Size/Power (Part 3): The addition of 6-8 Levine Toilolo, 6-3 Jordan Matthews, and 6-4 Jalen Hurd adds the threat of mismatches against some opponents who lack a defender who can cover someone of these statures. Paired with George Kittle, the above players (assuming the majority make the team) all could pose the problem of being uncoverable, or "open even when covered" for a lot of defenses.
[ Edited by OnTheClock on Jun 26, 2019 at 3:20 PM ]
  • thl408
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Good stuff OTC. I wonder how it breaks down between Beathard vs Mullens. I may tally that to see if Beathard was the QB with the worse red zone success. Trying to remember, I think the inability to run the ball in the red zone was the bigger contributor to the woes in 2018, not the lack of a large target.
Even when Jimmy was scoring red zone TDs in 2017, a good number were scored using off script, sandlot plays.

Jimmy, Kittle, Pettis, and chemistry should help the red zone offense in 2019. Bright side is there's only one way to go with red zone success in 2019, up.
I don't think Size/Power is the only answer here. Pettis should get more looks in the RZ. He gets open quickly in tight spaces.
Originally posted by OnTheClock:
Among the many horrific things the 49ers did last year, the team's red zone efficiency was yet another area where we were the absolute worst. No exaggeration, the numbers don't lie. So let's look at those.

By the Numbers:
-49ers were #32 in Red Zone TD scoring percentage, at 41.18% (next lowest was JAX at 44.12% -- almost 3 percentage points higher)
-49ers ranked #31 in the NFL in yards per carry inside the 20 at just 1.06 yards.
-TE George Kittle ranked #12 in Red Zone targets, but was tied for last in Red Zone TDs among players with 15+ targets.
-49ers quarterbacks had a combined 75 red zone pass attempts, ranking #10 in the league. However...
-49ers quarterbacks were a combined 44/75 (59%) for 15 TD, 4 INT inside the 20. Mullens was #12 in the NFL in completion % but threw 3 of our 4 red zone interceptions. The one other interception came from Beathard due to Celek's horrific drop turned INT.

Explanation Behind the Numbers:
-Richburg's inability to anchor due to his injury and Person's lack of power in the run game were exposed. Teams pinched on them.
-We lacked a power back until Wilson played, but his fumble in scoring position and other lost him the coaches' trust.
-The combination of the above two things made it near impossible to run inside, so our options became limited, and we became easy to defend along with being predictable when it came to running in the red zone. These issues created a major barrier in Kyle's ability to scheme points on the board, whether we called run or pass.

How to Fix The Issues:
-More Size/Power: The addition of Tevin Coleman and the versatile Jalen Hurd add power & schematic flexibility inside the 20.
-More Size/Power (Part 2): We need a healthy Richburg & root for Garnett to supplant Person, who lacks his mauler strength.
-More Size/Power (Part 3): The addition of 6-8 Levine Toilolo, 6-3 Jordan Matthews, and 6-4 Jalen Hurd adds the threat of mismatches against some opponents who lack a defender who can cover someone of these statures. Paired with George Kittle, the above players (assuming the majority make the team) all could pose the problem of being uncoverable, or "open even when covered" for a lot of defenses.

Agree with thl - really good topic to discuss. If we can match scoring with the yards this team generates, we're on to something big. I'm really hoping Wilson makes a run at the starting lineup. He brings something the other backs don't.
It may be simplifying it a bit....but for me red zone execution has always been primarily a function of quality of scheme, quality of Qb and the time the Qb has been operating in the scheme. I know some like to throw s**t at a zone blocking run games as being a flaw in operating in the RZ.

This ignores not only the success teams like NE who been using a zone scheme specifically in the RZ for years but it also ignores the like of the 1998 Broncos and Kyle's own 2016 Falcons. I highlighted these two teams because I would argue they are probably the best representation of what Kyle's flavor of WCO strives to look like. Here's some numbers:

1998 Broncos
58 total Tds
38 Redzone Tds
18 rushing RZ tds of 26 total rushing Tds

2016 Falcons
58 total Tds
39 Redzone Tds
16 rushing RZ tds of 20 total rushing Tds

I believe in Kyle's scheme and I think its just a matter of time before we start to see real good results. When that happens watch out, because this offense with Jimmy has been really explosive even without the efficiency you would want in the RZ.
How have Shanahan's offenses typically ranked in the RZ? I'd be curious to see what his RZ rankings were in previous seasons before he came here.

Found some data on that:
In Shanahan's 11 seasons as an offensive coordinator and head coach, his units have finished with the following average rankings: yards per game (10.7 in the NFL), points (17.7) and red-zone TD percentage (20.3).

Put it this way: Shanahan's offenses have had six top-10 rankings (yards per game), but have cracked the top 10 in the red zone in just two of his 11 seasons.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/49ers/amp/49ers-Kyle-Shanahan-and-the-red-zone-A-story-13587944.php
[ Edited by KittleSkittle on Jun 26, 2019 at 10:42 AM ]
  • thl408
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Originally posted by KittleSkittle:
How have Shanahan's offenses typically ranked in the RZ? I'd be curious to see what his RZ rankings were in previous seasons before he came here.

Found some data on that:
https://www.sfchronicle.com/49ers/amp/49ers-Kyle-Shanahan-and-the-red-zone-A-story-13587944.php
Good link, especially at the bottom where it breaks down each of his 11 seasons. Interesting that when ATL was scoring like crazy in 2016, that team was still only 8th in red zone TD%
I expect at least one play this year where we are at the goal line and either start with Hurd at HB and motion him out to an empty backfield or start in empty and put him at HB then run it.
Originally posted by thl408:
Good link, especially at the bottom where it breaks down each of his 11 seasons. Interesting that when ATL was scoring like crazy in 2016, that team was still only 8th in red zone TD%

It was almost 65% which is a very strong number. There were like 4 teams all bunched at 64 and change. Most years the number they put up gets you really close to top 5

2016 was the year we were actually 2nd in the league with over 68% with the Kelly juggernaut.
[ Edited by Niners816 on Jun 26, 2019 at 11:18 AM ]
Here's his actual percentages. Usually anything over 60% is very good.

2008 - 46%
2009 - 52%
—————-
2010 - 51%
2011 - 41%
2012 - 62%
2013 - 52%
—————-
2014 - 49%
—————-
2015 - 55%
2016 - 65%
—————-
2017 - 47%
2018 - 41%

I wonder how his numbers would look if he had Matt Ryan (the only real stud QB he's had) for more than 2 years? Let's hope Jimmy is that guy.
[ Edited by Niners816 on Jun 26, 2019 at 12:01 PM ]

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Originally posted by Niners816:
Here's his actual percentages. Usually anything over 60% is very good.

2008 - 46%
2009 - 52%
—————-
2010 - 51%
2011 - 41%
2012 - 62%
2013 - 52%
—————-
2014 - 49%
—————-
2015 - 55%
2016 - 65%
—————-
2017 - 47%
2018 - 41%

I wonder how his numbers would look if he had Matt Ryan (the only real stud QB) for more that 2 years? Let's hope Jimmy is that guy.

Just for a comparison, here's Andy Reid over the same time frame.

2008 - 47%
2009 - 49%
2010 - 52%
2011 - 51%
2012 - 44%
—————
2013 - 59%
2014 - 58%
2015 - 57%
2016 - 47%
2017 - 45%
2018 - 73%

Both guys had 6 seasons above 50% and 5 seasons in the 40's.
[ Edited by Niners816 on Jun 26, 2019 at 11:54 AM ]
Personally, it's all about play calling when the offense gets to the RED ZONE... a good game plan always helps especially putting packages together..

We should be better this upcoming season since we have more weapons.. SIMPLICITY is the key..
  • 91til
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Originally posted by OsBoogie:
I don't think Size/Power is the only answer here. Pettis should get more looks in the RZ. He gets open quickly in tight spaces.

Same with "slant God" Deebo Samuel
Ross Reynolds is our answervat RG not JG trash

Jimmy is good at throwing guys open but idk about making throws to larger receivers that are 'covered'
[ Edited by Boldjames on Jun 26, 2019 at 1:43 PM ]
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