To everyone who’s been falling for the coach-centric analysis of the 49ers backfield, take a look at this.
While it’s true that Shanahan has often been good to his RBs, and there is a history of his RBs catching passes, this idea of the Shanny offense always being a RB catch factory is overstated (notice the rather drastic fluctuation in RB targets).
What this tells me is that Shanahan does what I would expect any good coach to do: design his offense around the strengths of his players. Good pass catching RB(s)? Use them to exploit matchups. Bad pass catching RBs? Don’t throw it to them hardly at all. Mediocre pass catching RBs, but no other viable pass catcher on the roster, and a QB who couldn’t get to a second progression to save his life? Design a TON of layup, dump off type plays (see 2017).
Now, applying this to today. We all know that Morris isn’t really a pass catcher. So Breida is that guy, right? Let’s look at that.
Breida had 36 targets in 16 games (2.5/game). Carlos Hyde (poor receiver) had 88 in 16 games (5.5/game). Kyle Juzczyk has averaged 49 targets over the past 3 seasons and over his last 4 games w/ Jimmy G averaged 4.25 targets/game. 16 game pace of 68 targets. If Breida is such a pass catching threat, why wasn’t he used more than Hyde and a fulllback? Might it have something to do with the fact that he was also near the league lead in drops by an RB - tied for 2nd if memory serves - despite the low target numbers? I think Shanny was telling you what he thought of Breida as a pass catcher. My money is on Juzczyk leading this back field in targets. Morris is almost certainly the leader in carries.
Throw in the fact that targets to RBs in general plummeted under Jimmy G (pushed the ball down the field more, and obviously used Juzczyk more as well), and the upgraded pass catching core coming into this season, and where does that leave 5’9, 190 lb Breida? Hopefully on someone else’s bench.