There are several questions that Kyle Shanahan must answer in 2022.
For starters, will he be able to put together back-to-back winning seasons finally?
During his time as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Shanahan’s teams have never been able to accomplish this. The closest they’ve come is to finish 8-8. With the new 17 game schedule, it will be nearly impossible to match that this season.
Next up, can Shanahan find a way to close games?
Closing games hasn’t been much of a problem for Shanahan during the regular season; it’s the postseason where this issue has reared its ugly head.
As the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Shanahan’s play-calling in the fourth quarter helped New England overcome a 28-3 deficit to win Super Bowl LI.
Holding an eight-point lead and his offense in field goal position, Shanahan chose to call a pass instead of keeping the ball on the ground. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked for a loss of 12 yards, moving Atlanta out of field goal position. An ensuing holding call pushed the Falcons back further, leading to a punt. Instead of being up 11, Atlanta had to put its thoroughly beaten in the second half back on the field. You know the rest.
Finally, can Kyle Shanahan find a way to improve on third and fourth down with Trey Lance?
The 49ers offense struggled mightily on third and fourth down in Lance’s two starts last season.
Against Arizona in week five and Houston in week 17, the 49ers could convert only eight of 24 third-down attempts. They were even worse on fourth down, converting only one of seven attempts.
The issue goes back to how Shanahan called the game in Lance’s two starts. There was an increase in designed quarterback runs which were largely unsuccessful. Shanahan needs to learn to trust his young quarterback’s throwing ability.
For the 49ers to improve in this area, Shanahan and Lance will need to get on the same page.
In early February, Lance sat down for an interview with Rich Eisen. He spoke about the need to strengthen the relationship between quarterback and coach.
“For me, watching tape with Kyle, I think, is a big thing,” Lance told Eisen. “Whether it’s tape from my games, tape from Jimmy’s games. Any of the games this year, understanding how he sees the game and making sure that we’re on the same page throughout the year.”