The 49ers’ talented wide receivers room follows a catchphrase that keeps coach Kyle Shanahan’s creative offensive scheme in mind.
No block? No rock.
“That’s how it goes,” San Francisco receivers coach Leonard Hankerson told reporters Wednesday. “Because at the end of the day in this offense, we run first. Everybody knows when the San Francisco 49ers show up, we’re going to ground and pound you.
“Those receivers, they’re going to block.”
In other words, if 49ers receivers want targets in the passing game, they better be willing to pave the way for teammates. It starts at the top, too.
Brandon Aiyuk, the 49ers’ first-round pick in 2020, was the team’s leading receiver last year but also is known to throw down a vicious block. In San Francisco’s 41-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card Game, Aiyuk laid down two big downfield blocks to open up two explosive plays -- a 40-yard Deebo Samuel touchdown and a 68-yard Christian McCaffrey scamper.
San Francisco 49ers
Aiyuk caught three passes that game for 73 yards. He blocked, so he earned the rock.
During the season, the 49ers hold a run game accountability meeting every Friday where tape from the prior week's game is shown to teammates. It's there the blocks -- or sometimes, missed blocks -- are broadcast to the team. And you can bet the receivers are in that room.
"It's really cool when everybody buys in and does what they're supposed to do," run game coordinator Chris Foerster said in January. "It shows up good, and then everybody says, 'Hey look, if I do my part, it's a big play, keeps us on the field, gives everybody a chance, gives a receiver a chance to catch another pass, a running back to get another run.'
"Whatever it is, it all ties together. It's a cool process."
It's that line of thinking -- and that catchy motto -- that have made the 49ers one of the NFL's best rushing teams throughout Shanahan's coaching tenure.
"Of course, it’s no block, no rock," Hankerson said. "It’s also no block -- no field, no action."