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Why the 49ers offense is clicking on all cylinders in 2023

The 49ers possess one of their best offenses in recent memory.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers continued their recent winning streak with a second win over the Seattle Seahawks in three games this past weekend, cruising past their division rivals 28-16 for another victory.

It was a strong performance for the 49ers, who earned a season-high 527 yards, as quarterback Brock Purdy threw for a career-high 368 yards in the winning effort.

Additionally, San Francisco’s playmakers all stood out, as running back Christian McCaffrey went for 145 yards on the ground at a 9.1 yards-per-carry pace, while receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk both eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the air.

Overall, the 49ers finished the game with 10 explosive plays, spreading the ball out, as four different players ended with over 75 yards from scrimmage: McCaffrey, Samuel, Aiyuk, and tight end George Kittle.

How have the 49ers been able to create so effectively on the offensive end down the stretch of the season?

It all starts with their playmakers, but is fueled by the quick and level-headed decision-making from Brock Purdy.

“We got so many guys who can get such big plays on little plays. We went for a big play early in the game, tried to get [TE] George [Kittle] and [WR Brandon Aiyuk] BA down the middle and the two hook defenders were deep in the safety,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said following this weekend’s game. “Some of my favorite plays by Brock in the day because he just went to a checkdown which was the right answer and Deebo was the five-yard checkdown, and he got 30 on it. So that happens on a lot of our stuff.”

“Then the more they come up then you can kind of get those easy big plays. I mean the one to George was huge just because they’re honoring the run. The play before that, you could see them blow the run up and with George and [TE] Charlie [Woerner] over there and 22 personnel, and they’re coming up aggressive, and you could tell they did it again. That’s why they tried to grab George going by him, he was able to fight through the holding and get the touchdown. So got a lot of explosive guys, but when you’re not just one dimensional in that way, you hope it’s a matter of time and just how it plays out.”

As seen through the number of explosive plays this past weekend and throughout the season, Purdy hasn’t been afraid to sling the football down the field, but that level of aggressiveness also comes with an understanding of knowing when to check it out. That has allowed San Francisco’s playmakers to create explosive plays at all three levels of the field, forcing defenses to remain alert and level-headed.

While Purdy himself has a desire to be aggressive, the quarterback understands his playmakers extremely well, which enables him to feel as comfortable hitting his checkdowns and just playing situational football, rather than being reckless.

“I mean, that one felt good. Just going through the progressions and hitting Deebo, and we talked about that all week,” Purdy said about his deep 54-yard touchdown pass to Samuel last Sunday. “Obviously, if the defense gives us the longer, deeper throw, great. But, we have to be disciplined and have to play with conviction to be able to go through my progressions and be willing to take checkdowns like that. And obviously when you have Deebo Samuel as your checkdown, it’s pretty good.”

“Yeah, I feel like that’s our mindset with this team. Like I said before, we have playmakers across the board, so if you throw an outside zone to Christian and you can take it 70, you can throw a checkdown to Deebo Samuel, and he’ll take it 50. So that’s how we do look at it. We have guys across the board that can make anything happen at any time and that’s our mindset. But, obviously, you get in situational football, you have to be smart and not just throw deep or anything like that, but we have guys that can score at any moment. So, we know that.”

With the way that San Francisco spreads the ball around, the 49ers could have four different weapons go for over 1,000 yards from scrimmage this season.

Christian McCaffrey has well eclipsed the mark, having rushed for 1,177 yards, while earning another 437 through the air.

Brandon Aiyuk just achieved the feat this weekend and is currently up to 1,053 receiving yards, despite having missed a game.

After a down 2022 year, Deebo Samuel has compiled several consecutive weeks of strong production, and now has 739 receiving yards to go with 161 rushing yards, placing him just 100 yards away from the 1,000-yard mark.

Meanwhile, George Kittle has overtaken his 2022 numbers as well, going for 811 yards on an elite 15.3 yards-per-catch rate, which nearly matches his 2018 average when he had 1,377 receiving yards on 88 catches.

Should Brock Purdy’s play continue to be as consistent as it has been, there’s no reason why the explosive plays to San Francisco’s weapons shouldn’t continue, which could likely bring all four players to the 1,000-yard mark.