San Francisco 49ers: How Lynch and Shanahan Can Save the Offense

Feb 9, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan pose for a photo during a press conference at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan pose for a photo during a press conference at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch’s new contracts are barely dry, but they’ve already started to look towards rebuilding the 49ers offense

San Francisco had major trouble scoring last season, despite hiring the “offensive guru” Chip Kelly. Nobody can deny that if there’s anything that changes under new head coach Kyle Shanahan’s control, it will be the success of the offense. Shanahan knows too much about x’s and o’s to remain 31st in yards per game and 27th in points per game.

Will those numbers increase astronomically in his first year? Probably not. However, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Niners with a top-15 offense sometime within his first three years pacing the sidelines.

We don’t even know who will be under center this upcoming season. His success with Matt Ryan, a precision passer who isn’t much of a scrambler, is totally different from Colin Kaepernick. Carlos Hyde is a beast in the backfield but he alone cannot replicate the one-two punch of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. There is nobody remotely as talented as Julio Jones catching passes. The offensive line doesn’t have the pedigree Atlanta’s did either. Coach Shanahan has a lot to address if he hopes to improve the team’s pitiful 2-14 record last campaign.

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Shanahan and new GM John Lynch have to sit down and have a discussion about whether or not to retain Kaepernick. Shanahan presumably would like to have a pocket passer rather than a scrambling maestro, at least if his success with Matt Ryan’s skill set is any indication. Odds are the organization and Kaepernick go their separate ways, especially with the quarterback restructuring his contract. That leaves multiple options for the 49ers to get a pocket passer: they could sign Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon or Kirk Cousins if the Redskins balk. They could trade for Tony Romo, A.J. McCarron or Nick Foles. They could also turn to the draft and use the second overall pick on Mitch Trubisky, considering the other top quarterback options are dual threats.

Maybe the Bengals send McCarron and draft picks to the Bay Area for the second pick. Just a thought.

In the backfield, Carlos Hyde is the undeniable workhorse, but Shaun Draughn could be a poor man’s Tevin Coleman. Draughn has done pretty well as a receiver out of the backfield. Hyde and Draughn may not be Freeman and Coleman, but Shanahan has the offensive wizardry to make it work just fine.

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  • The receiving corps may be a bit more difficult. Torrey Smith works as a deep threat, so a change doesn’t need to be made there. Jeremy Kerley isn’t bad either but he isn’t talented enough to be much more than a second or third option, presumably in the slot. In other words, the 49ers lack a top receiving threat. There are plenty of guys due to land on the market, such as Alshon Jeffery, Terrelle Pryor, Kenny Britt, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, that could all step in as viable, number one options. They could also take a shot at Clemson product Mike Williams if they trade down in the first round, such as using the ninth pick in the earlier A.J. McCarron trade scenario.

    Tight end isn’t much of an issue to worry about. Former GM Trent Baalke inked Vance McDonald to a multi-year pact towards the end of last season, making this position a non-issue for the next few years. Garrett Celek and Blake Bell are decent enough options behind McDonald if he misses time for any reason as well.

    The offensive line is at a similar stage. Veterans Joe Staley, Zane Beadles and Daniel Kilgore all provide consistency. Josh Garnett and Trent Brown, both in their early twenties, can learn from the aforementioned veterans and make the line respectable. It may not be the best group in the league, but it will work if the right weapons are available. Maybe they’ll spend a mid-round pick on a lineman, as some quality blockers could still be available in the second, third or fourth rounds, but this shouldn’t be a priority for Lynch and company.

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    Imagine Mitch Trubisky under center. Carlos Hyde ready in the backfield. Alshon Jeffrey lined up opposite Torrey Smith. Vance McDonald on the line. Kyle Shanahan’s dynamic, high-powered offensive plays. That doesn’t sound like a 2-14 team anymore. It may not be perfect, but it’s a heck of a start for the first year head coach and GM.

    If Lynch and Shanahan are on the same page with draft picks, free agency spending and trade acquisitions, which the matching six-year deals the pair recently signed suggest, they could bring glory back to the Bay Area. Also, just a small fact: the 49ers have more than $80 million in cap space, so financial concerns certainly won’t arise. Their offseason could very well revitalize the offense if they play their cards right.