49ers overreactions: Is Kyle Shanahan NFL's most conservative play caller?

49ers overreactions: Is Shanahan NFL's most conservative coach? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Let’s not waste any time and get right into this week’s edition of 49ers overreactions.

Overreaction? Yes.

That’s blasphemy to suggest 49ers overreactions should take a break when the team wins.

And, yes, the 49ers are coming off a 22-16 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. We are here to serve those who yearn for something more than just a victory.

They yearn for lineup changes and wholesale firings. Isn’t it great?

We give fans an outlet to complain even when the team is winning. Does that make 49ers Twitter strange? Nope.

Onward ...

Overreaction? Not necessarily.

We’re not sure that there is any way to measure the relative conservatism of NFL coaches, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is certainly not using the same approach with this team as he did with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons offense.

Obviously, there’s a big difference. These are two different teams.

My guess is coaches and players who go up against the 49ers do not see them as being “conservative” because there is a lot for which they must prepare with this offense.

The way Shanahan handles the offense is the approach he believes gives the 49ers the best chance of winning with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

And it is difficult to argue with success. The 49ers are 39-19 in games in which Garoppolo has started, including 4-2 in two playoff appearances over the past three seasons.

We do not believe this is necessarily Shanahan’s preferred style of offense, which became evident when the 49ers pursued other quarterbacks and eventually traded up to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft to select mobile, strong-armed quarterback Trey Lance.

What Garoppolo does well is he gets the ball out quickly and accurately on underneath routes. That enables the team’s offensive playmakers to pick up yards after the catch.

Still, the 49ers rank ninth in the NFL in yards per game (360.0). They are middle of the pack in converting red-zone opportunities into touchdowns, and that is the area where the club can show the most improvement.

Overreaction? Yes.

Jimmy Garoppolo is playing the best football of his career.

Is he playing at a Pro Bowl level? No.

Are dropped passes holding him back? While, yes, there have been some drops, we would not place that as the main reason the offense ranks in the second half of the league in scoring.

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk failed to hold onto a catchable ball in the end zone on Sunday night, which would have provided the 49ers with four more points. But we do not view dropped passes as an epidemic.

Garoppolo is one of six quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher. But he is nowhere near prolific. He’s 19th in the NFL in passing yards and tied for 18th with 11 touchdowns passing.

Overreaction? Yes.

Christian McCaffrey showed what he can in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Rams en route to recognition as the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

We also saw on Sunday night how teams respect his presence on the field, often sending two defenders with him and opening up single coverage for his teammates.

The most surprising part of the 49ers’ Week 10 win was how Elijah Mitchell stepped right back onto the field and tore it up. Mitchell carried more times than McCaffrey for twice the number of yards.

While nobody should expect that to be the case every week, it shows that Shanahan is willing to go with the player who is experiencing the most success.

McCaffrey is a strong option as a third-down back, for sure, but he has proven to be much more than that.

Overreaction? Yes.

There is nobody available on the market at cornerback who could step in and see action for the 49ers -- unless they experience an unthinkable number of injuries down the stretch.

However, if the 49ers somehow add Odell Beckham Jr. for the stretch drive of the season, you can be sure that he will find his way onto the field and be a contributor as the team’s No. 3 wideout.

Beckham is a free agent who is planning a comeback from a torn ACL he sustained in the Super Bowl. The 49ers likely are to be among a handful of teams interested in his services.

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