Kyle Shanahan Notes the Key to the 49ers’ YAC-Based Offense

Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel celebrating with the San Francisco 49ers.

The San Francisco 49ers‘ offense gets called unique by fans, foes, and pundits alike for just how effortlessly Kyle Shanahan is able to scheme his players open in the open field. With 2,192 yards after the catch earned by wide receivers in 2022 alone, according to NBC Sports, the seventh-highest mark in the NFL, Shanahan has made a name for himself as one of the most unique offensive minds in the business, with teams like Miami hiring away his assistants to get a piece of his scheme.

But picking up yards after the catch isn’t just about play calling or even the elusiveness of the ball handler. No, as Shanahan pointed out during his Wednesday media availability, having wide receivers like Brandon Aiyuk who can block for the likes of Deebo Samuel down the field is just as vital.

“I think it always helps when you have length and size, and I think he does have that,” Shanahan said via 49ers WebZone. “I think it’s the mindset of all our guys though. I think we do have a lot of good players. What I like to say separates us from other teams with good players is our good players really block too, whichever one of our five guys has the ball, the other four are blocking as good as anyone. And Brandon (Aiyuk) does that as good as anyone, but I think all our guys do also.”

Though most wide receivers are understandably focused on picking up receiving yards to set themselves up for future financial success, having players like Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings who are willing to set things up for their teammates in addition to themselves is a big reason why the 49ers have one of the best offenses, and locker rooms, in the league.

The San Francisco 49ers’ Spacing is by Kyle Shanahan’s Design

Asked a follow-up question about how much of the Niners’ spacing is by design, Shanahan declared that he “always” draws up his plays to maximize his players’ ability to succeed.

“Yeah, always,” Shanahan said. “It depends on your personnel, what guys are better at. It depends on how people are playing you. I think we’re pretty balanced from a personnel standpoint that you have guys that are good at underneath stuff, guys that are good at over-the-top stuff. Guys who are good in zones, guys who are good at man, so we do that schematically, and teams play us a lot of different ways, so you kind of just let them pick their poison.”

With five different offensive skill players that have at least one Pro Bowl nod on their resume, the 49ers are a team that really can spread the ball around and force opposing defensive coordinators to “pick their poison.” Considering San Francisco hasn’t lost a game with their third-string quarterback, Brock Purdy, under center, that optionality has proven incredibly effective.

Brock Purdy Sets Multiple Records for the San Francisco 49ers

Speaking of Purdy, the 49ers rookie quarterback was on a roll in his Super Wild Card Weekend debut, throwing three touchdowns and picking up an additional score on the ground with his legs. According to, this marked the first time in league history that a rookie scored four touchdowns in a playoff game, in addition to the most points scored by a rookie quarterback in playoff history, too.

Purdy’s playoff debut made him one of just four players in NFL history, regardless of age, to throw for 300-plus yards and four-plus offensive touchdowns in their playoff debut, joining the impressive group of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner.

The list of players with 300-or-more pass yards and four-plus offensive touchdowns in their first playoff game includes Purdy and three other future Super Bowl champions: Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner.

And the best part? Purdy is currently trying tied with Justin Herbert for the most consecutive games with multiple touchdown passes by a rookie at seven. If he can accomplish the feat in Week 20 against the Dallas Cowboys, Mr. Irrelevant will be in sole possession of the record and add his name to the annals of NFL history forever.

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