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49ers offense found a random bit of success in 2016

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How did this group of five skill position players do so well together on such a bad offense?

The San Francisco 49ers offense was rather inconsistent in 2016, and with a lack of much skill position depth, coupled with offensive line troubles it is not surprising. And yet, there were moments of success. In fact, one group had more success than I think anybody would have thought.

Pro Football Focus writer (and long-time NN writer) David Neumann recently took a look at the most productive skill position groups in terms of yards per play when they’re on the field together (minimum 75 snaps). He tweeted out something showing the Seattle Seahawks ranked fifth with 7.06 yards per play when Thomas Rawls, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse, and Doug Baldwin were on the field.

Oscar Aparicio asked David where the 49ers ended up in this ranking. The group of Carlos Hyde, Vance McDonald, Torrey Smith, Jeremy Kerley, and Quinton Patton managed to rank ninth, with 6.77 yards per play.

That is a bit of a surprising twist I was not expecting. The 49ers had plenty of offensive problems, but it’s intriguing that they would have a unit that actually had some decent success at times. I was talking to David about it, and he said the 49ers had one other group that qualified for the 75-snap minimum. It was the same group as above, but with Garrett Celek swapped in for Vance McDonald. That group ranked No. 51 with 4.88 yards per play.

Any thoughts as to what might explain the success of that first unit?