The last time Brian Hoyer operated a Kyle Shanahan coordinated offense was 2014 when he threw for 3,326 yards in only 14 games, while starting 13.
In 2017 Hoyer will again be charged with leading an offense coordinated by Shanahan, this time Niner’s Live is making the Fearless Prediction: Brian Hoyer will throw for 4,000 yards. That’s 250 yards per game over a full 16 game season. Why not say 3,000? Because he has already shown that 3,000 is not hard for him in a Shanahan offense, in the aforementioned 2014 season, so a 3,000-yard season can’t even be classified as a “Bold Prediction”.
On March 23, 2017, Niner’s Live brought you, Why the 49ers Should Move On From the 2017-2018 Kirk Cousins Talk, in which we recapped that 2014 season and how that season was the fourth best quarterback yardage season of a Shanahan quarterback, trailing 2009 NFL Passing Leader Matt Schaub and 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan. We also recapped Hoyer’s 2016 season where he threw for 1,445 yards in six games for a per game average of 240.83 yards. Hoyer had three games with at least 75% completion percentage. There was also those four straight games he threw for at least 302 yards. During that stretch, Hoyer completed at least 76.7 percent of his passes. And in three straight games he threw two touchdowns and zero interceptions. And then Brian Hoyer’s arm, streak and season were broken.
In case you missed that article, or with so much Niner’s Live Draft Information we have been bringing you it slipped your mind, the main point was that with Hoyer on the roster, there is no need for General Manager John Lynch to invest so much salary cap into Cousins. Now that the team has gone through free agency and the draft, it seems the 49ers have put together the pieces to compete in the passing game this season.
When Shanahan went to the Cleveland Browns before the 2014 season he brought a complex offense to a team where no one had played in the offense before. Hoyer was already on the roster and was coming up on what would be his last season in the Dog Pound, but what a productive season it was for Hoyer and Shanahan. Not the case in 2017, and not in Santa Clara.
Hoyer may be a free agent acquisition this season but, with his fellow acquisitions to this offense this season, there is a comfort level due to each one of the front line, first wave, offensive free agents, not named Marquise Goodwin or Kyle Juszczyk. Goodwin and Juszczyk are the only free agents penciled in for a big role this season that have not played, and thrived, in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Hoyer, “X” receiver Pierre Garcon 113 rec. 1,346 yards in 2013, Aldrick Robinson 16.1 yards per catch 2016 and 19.3 in 4 seasons with Shanahan.
What Juszczyk and Goodwin don’t have in familiarity, Shanahan makes up for in understanding what he wants from the players and in how they will be used in their roles.
Production By Position:
(Predictions are made by position production, not by individual player)
Lines up away from the tight end, and is the feature receiver in Shanahan’s offense. Garcon has seen time in this role for Shanahan and produced like a number one receiver should. In the past, this position has accounted for more than 100 targets in this offense in eight of nine years Shanahan has been a coordinator. Garcon should fill this role again, and with help on the other side, should again fill in admirably.
Prediction: 135 receptions, 1,375 yards, nine touchdowns
Usually played by the tight end. This year Vance McDonald is fighting to hold onto his starting role after the team attempted to trade him during the draft. Free agent signee Logan Paulsen and Rookie George Kittle will press McDonald for time. Not to mention fellow returnees Garrett Celek and Blake Bell. Celek and Paulsen should provide better blocking than McDonald, and Kittle should provide better blocking than McDonald and better blocking than either Paulsen or Celek. By the fourth game of the season, this should be Kittle’s job, with Celek and McDonald entering in two tight end sets.
Prediction: 38 receptions, 550 yards, five touchdowns
This is where the camp battle will be fought the hardest, with last years starter Jeremy Kerley, free agent pickups Aldrick Robinson, rookie Trent Taylor and Bruce Ellington, last year’s training camp starter in the slot until a hamstring placed him on injured reserve and left a void (which was filled by Kerley through a trade with the Lions). Ellington will fight not only for targets, but also for roster spots. Aldrick Robinson and Trent Taylor are potential locks, but Kerley and Ellington will have to fight to earn a roster spot.
Prediction: 50 receptions, 825 yards, eight touchdowns
Lines up on the same side as the tight end. With the speed Marquise Goodwin brings (4.27 40 yard dash) I would envision him playing a similar role to DeSean Jackson from 2014 during Shanahan’s and Garcon’s time in Washington. That season, the speedy Jackson posted a 56 catch, 1,169 yards, six touchdown effort, playing Robin to Garcon’s Batman. That season instability at quarterback saw Robert Griffen III and Kirk Cousins split 3,404 passing yards, 1,710- 1,694 with Cousins taking home the chunk of those yards. With a stable quarterback depth chart, this offense should increase numbers that unit produced, across the board.
Prediction: 60 receptions, 1,050 yards, eight touchdowns
Yes, the running backs do more than run for 1,000 yards in this offense. Just ask Tevin Coleman, 31 receptions for 421 yards, and Devonta Freeman, 54 receptions and another 462 yards. Last season Carlos Hyde had 28 receptions while fourth-round draft pick Joe Williams and draft day trade acquisition Kapri Bibbs have done very little in the passing game. Williams only posted 20 receptions in 19 games at Utah, and Bibbs only has two career receptions in two years with the Broncos. Free Agent prize Kyle Juszczyk could be the answer here as he has 97 receptions in his career with totals of 37 and 41 in his past two seasons. This year’s third down back will be someone who can be a threat in the passing game.
Prediction: 55 receptions, 550 yards, four touchdowns
This free agent period was designed by both Lynch and Shanahan to bring in players in key roles who fit a need and have a familiarity with his system. By doing this, these key players in this passing attack will be able to hit the ground running. Whereas most teams who have this much turn around will normally be forced to acclimate most of those players to the playbook and style of the coach, this team is uniquely positioned to fast forward past that phase and simply begin building timing and cohesion in the passing game. They already speak the same language. This will give this offense a head start and allow Hoyer to open his season with Shanahan in a place of more familiarity, and as such, build a season with more production. Not to mention, without any homeless men convincing the owner to draft Johnny Football, Hoyer may actually finish the season as the starter.
As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.
Welcome to Lyftlive.com.
All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Edward Erving Staff Writer at Niners Live, Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.