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How the 49ers can Improve Their Red Zone Offense

The red zone offense for the 49ers has been a drag all season long. What can Kyle Shanahan do to flip some of those settled field goals into touchdowns?

Driving the length of the field isn't much of an issue for the 49ers.

The offense has managed to put up plenty of yards in practically every game this season. It is when the 49ers reach the red zone where they start to falter and it is a derailing issue to have. 

Generating all of those yards is great and all, but it doesn't matter if the 49ers do not have points to show for it. Every game there has always been something that stalls out the offense that forces them to settle for field goals. There needs to be some serious changes, some sort of tinkering to ensure the red zone trips are not wasted. 

I have one proposal on how the 49ers can improve their red zone offense.

Pass the ball more. I'm not talking about run-pass option plays either because those are not consistently successful. Have Jimmy Garoppolo drop back more often and let him sling it to his talented receivers. The 49ers do not have a bunch of scrubs at their skill positions, yet Kyle Shanahan calls the game like they do. 

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Garoppolo, outside of the Denver game, has been playing excellent. He isn't great or elite by any measure, but he has shown throughout his career to have more low moments than high. And right now, he is performing more so at a higher level than lower. Shanahan needs to let him have a hand on the steering wheel and make some plays. He has proven that in back-to-back games and is even playing uncharacteristically. Just look at the several plays he's made when he rolls out to buy time.

He made one to Christian McCaffrey for a touchdown against the Rams, then versus the Chargers a rollout on the fly where he hit Ray-Ray McCloud on a dime. It was insane to see out of Garoppolo because that isn't like him. He is playing well and efficiently. All credit to him. He looks like the 2019 version or better right now. It's time for Shanahan to acknowledge that and let him steer the offense.

Too many times in the red zone, the play calling becomes predictable. Defenses know the 49ers want to run it. Even people who do not watch football know the 49ers want and are going to run it. So why not create a tendency breaker to make a defense honest again by throwing it? Garoppolo hasn't really done anything to dissuade Shanahan this season to keep the ball away from him. I get it if Garoppolo early on is throwing ducks and is shaky. 

But more times than not this season, he has been executing throws to keep the offense alive. Look at how Garoppolo essentially drove the offense in the second-quarter for the 49ers' first touchdown of the game. The running game wasn't working, so he had to keep at it and was hitting his receivers on the money. The 49ers need more of that. 

It isn't just the red zone offense, but the offense as a whole really. Shanahan needs to start calling more pass plays. The sequencing of his plays are too obvious. For a guy who gets labeled a "genius," he sure refuses to adapt to a defense. Shanahan just sticks to his guns with his "my way or the highway" mentality. Instead, he should utilize the pass to be a more efficient offense all around. That should end up aiding the running offense. 

I just wouldn't put my faith in Shanahan changing anything.