Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, left, talks with his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, during their NFL football training camp at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va., Monday, Aug. 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

SANTA CLARA — Longtime observers of Mike and Kyle Shanahan wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff Wilson Jr. breaks loose with 100 or more yards Sunday when the 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks.

Or it could be undrafted rookie free agent Jordan Mason. Or rookie third-round pick Ty Davis-Price.

It’s been that way for the 49ers since Kyle Shanahan took over as head coach in 2017, with a different leading rusher in each of the last five seasons: Carlos Hyde (938 yards), Matt Breida (814), Raheem Mostert (772), Wilson (600) and Elijah Mitchell (963). Seven different runners have broken 100 yards in a game since Shanahan arrived, led by Mitchell and Breida at five times each.

Mostert was on and off rosters for six different teams as an undrafted free agent before sticking with the 49ers, setting a franchise record with 220 yards rushing on 27 carries in a playoff win over Green Bay following the 2019 season. He signed with Miami in the offseason.

Players with a knack for zone scheme runs can come from anywhere.

“All our guys, our whole room, we’re right there,” Wilson said. “There’s not really too much of a difference between anybody. Everybody brings their own thing in their own way, but we work together and we see things the same way.”

The roots of the 49ers running game go back to Shanahan’s father Mike with the Denver Broncos from 1995 through 2008 and zone scheme runs as taught by the late Alex Gibbs, an offensive line coach who passed away in July of 2021.

While attrition has kept the 49ers from having a 1,000-yard rusher under Kyle Shanahan, Mike Shanahan’s teams in Denver and Washington had 13 in 18 seasons. Denver backs who broke 1,000 yards included Hall of Famer Terrell Davis (six times), but also included Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson (three times), Clinton Portis (twice), Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell.

In four seasons in Washington from 2010 through 2013, undrafted free agent Albert Morris broke 1,000 yards twice.

Mike Shanahan (left) had son Kyle on his offensive staff from 2010 through 2013 with Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Tellingly, not a single lead running back for Mike or Kyle Shanahan was drafted in the first round. Davis, the one who got it all started, was a sixth-round pick out of Georgia, No. 196 overall.

Kyle Shanahan has defied the Gibbs edict of never mixing other rushing strategies with zone scheme. Mike Shanahan joked in an interview …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


The Shanahan run game: System has evolved, but can still operate with interchangeable backs

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