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Kyle Shanahan explains 49ers struggles with outside zone runs vs. Panthers

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The 49ers will need to step it up in Week 2.

NFL: New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers run game is making changes this year under Kyle Shanahan, and we saw a little bit of good and bad from the unit. The 49ers effectively abandoned the run in the second half as they fell further and further behind, but we saw some big runs in the first half.

One area that saw some struggles was in their use of outside zone runs. Earlier this week, Grant Cohn broke down every run play the 49ers ran, and concluded the team should consider focusing on inside zone runs. He followed up on that during Kyle Shanahan’s Wednesday press conference. Shanahan once again offered some useful details in understanding what the 49ers are doing on a given play.

Speaking of the good plays, it seemed like those runs in particular were between the tackles and the outside zone runs were less successful. What were the break downs on those outside zone runs and have you considered de-emphasizing that play at all?

“No, not at all. Every inside zone run was versus a two-shell defense when they’re one man short. So, we happened to get in the right play versus a two-safety defense when they are outnumbered. The eight-man fronts, if you get into those tight ones and you’re outnumbered times two, if you do an outside zone, at least they have to honor the keeper, so you have the numbers. It depends on what type of front you’re going against.”

Why were those outside zone plays less successful in this game?

“Just the same reason any one is. You don’t make the blocks. You don’t get the hole. We did have an outside zone one that I thought we had everyone blocked and we just tripped going through the line. If we would have hit that one, it would have been a 30 yarder and then we would have really messed up your outside zone stats because the one we got would have been a gash, we just tripped. All the others weren’t good ones. So, it looks like you’re averaging .5 on the outside zones and it’s just one play that changes it all for stats.”

The 49ers interior offensive line in particular was problematic in Week 1. It made more of a regular appearance in pass protection, but there were some consistency issues in the ground game as well. They face a stout defensive front in the Seattle Seahawks, and getting that ground game going will be critical to making this game even a little bit competitive.