Kyle Shanahan

Kittle details Shanahan's method for calling play-action passes

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If there's anyone who knows just how intricate and unique Kyle Shanahan's play-calling is, it's 49ers tight end George Kittle.

Not only is the NFL veteran a fixture in San Francisco's passing attack, but he also has established himself as one of the greatest, if not the best, pass-blocking tight ends in the league. Kittle is involved in all facets of the 49ers' offense.

Kittle joined the "Slow News Day" podcast with The Ringer’s Kevin Clark and Steven Ruiz in an episode released Tuesday, where he was asked to name one play that he was involved in that defines Shanahan as a play-caller.

"We played Seattle in the playoffs this year and Kyle has this thing where if he wants to set up a play action or a bootleg type, we'll sometimes call a run play that he knows is not going to work," Kittle explained "... We're running a run play multiple times, and it's averaging like two yards a carry, two yards a carry, two yards a carry, and we threw a play-action behind it and Deebo [Samuel] goes for like 75 yards in Seattle.

"The whole thing is set up because it's the exact same motion, it's the exact same alignment, it's the exact same. And all of a sudden, Deebo's running a shallow, I'm faking like I'm the defensive end, linebacker thinks it's power, he steps up four yards and Deebo's uncovered in the flat running for a touchdown."

The 49ers' offense, which is centered around YAC (Yards After Catch), features multiple skill position players who are known league-wide for their yards-after-catch ability. All Shanahan has to do is get them the ball and let his weapons do the rest.

"It's just stuff like that that's really fun, because Kyle Shanahan, he's like hey, if I can get my skill players involved with space in front of them, whether it's Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, we're all running for days," Kittle explained. "That's what's really fun because we have such a great YAC team, and that's something we always talk about. He can scheme us up open, and it's just really fun to be a part of that offense."

RELATED: Kittle describes how CMC's ‘infectious' mindset benefits 49ers

Through the air, San Francisco's offense ranked fourth in the league in Yards Per Attempt (7.9), fifth in First Down Percentage (36.7 percent) and seventh in plays of 20-plus yards (56). The team's pass catchers also ranked fifth in Yards Per Reception with 12.0.

Kittle and his teammates' ability to fight for every extra yard played a big role in the 49ers finishing the 2022 season as one of the best offenses in the league, despite having three quarterbacks under center.

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