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49ers in Five: One possible reason the 49ers offense isn’t making big plays

Play callers have slumps, too

Everything you need to know in about five minutes

The struggles of the 49ers’ offense have been disected all season long. Some people think it’s the pass protection. Some people think it’s the quarterback. Some people think Brandon Aiyuk hasn’t strides - okay, that’s really like two people, but still. Earlier this week, Matt Maiocco offered up this idea in an appearance on KNBR:

“Kyle Shanahan is so about the big play and he has this tendency, and sometimes it serves him very well. Whenever something is working he anticipates the adjustment being made which then leaves the defense vulnerable in another area.

In words that I’ve heard him use, instead of pounding your head against an eight-man front, you’re going use that and make a bigger play because of the success you’ve had in one area. The problem this year is that the counter to the stuff that’s happening has not been successful at all. That always begs the question, why not stick with it, and I don’t know the answer.”

That is a fascinating thought that I haven’t heard anyone else mention before.

We hear all the time about quarterbacks (including Jimmy Garoppolo) going through their reads too quickly, and looking away from receivers before a play has time to fully develop. Even if the play call is good and guys would have been open, the quarterback is going through his reads so quickly that he doesn’t see it.

Could the same thing be happening with Kyle Shanahan? Maybe Kyle is so desperate to get the offense moving with a big play, that he’s going through his reads too quickly. What if he isn’t letting the offense bash the defense’s head in with one particular concept long enough to get them to overcommit to stopping it? Then, when he switches to the counter-punch, the defense is still in a good enough position to shut down the shot play.

I don’t know the answer to those questions, I just thought Maiocco’s idea made sense and was really interesting. Considering I’ve criticized him in the past, it’s only fair to praise him when I think he deserves it as well. The unfortunate thing to me is that you would think that this kind of issue would be something that would be noticed and ironed out over the bye week, but given what we saw Sunday night that clearly isn’t the case.

For more on that thought as well as some of the national criticisms that have started to trickle in about this regime, listen to today’s 49ers in Five podcast.