By: Chris Sanchez (@Chucky__Sanchez)
Final Edit: (Zachhernan)
We all know one thing: Kyle Shanahan can scheme and draw-up plays on offense as well or even better than anyone currently in the NFL. His varied, intricate offense allows for receivers to have plenty of opportunities in the passing game. Yes, he arguably had a surplus of stronger weapons to rely on during his time with the Atlanta Falcons than he will with the 49ers. One of those weapons was WR Taylor Gabriel.
We can all remember Gabriel running wide open then catching deep bombs from Matt Ryan. He also caught a few bubble screens, made a few people miss, then took those to the house. Gabriel clearly benefited from Shanahan’s offensive mind.
Why do I mention Gabriel? Well, early this offseason, the 49ers went out and signed a WR very similar to Gabriel in Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin, most recently of the Buffalo Bills, possesses elite speed. He even represented the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics!
Goodwin then went on to run a blazing 4.27 40-yard dash at the 2013 combine.
You will not catch him in the open field. Period. He will keep corners and safeties modest in the passing game and he will also use his elite speed to return kicks/punts. His speed on the field will allow other receivers to work comfortably underneath. Also, it will prevent the opposing defense from stacking 8 in the box to stop the run. I cannot remember the last time the 49ers had a speedster of this caliber. Goodwin is able to stretch the field the way the 49ers had hoped Torrey Smith would when they signed him. Watching Shanahan draw up plays for him will be fun.
Let’s do a quick rundown of Goodwin’s strengths and weaknesses.
- As I said before, s-p-e-e-d. Lots of it. Goodwin will more than likely always be the fastest player on the field at any given time.
- Solid route-runner. For having so much speed, Goodwin actually runs clean routes.
- Safe with the football. Has only fumbled twice and lost one of those in his four years in the NFL.
- In spite of his small frame, he is a tenacious blocker down the field.
- Unreliable hands. Was actually only credited with a 42.6% catch rate in 2016, ranking 107th in the NFL among qualifying receivers.
- Small frame. Due to this – Goodwin rarely will break first contact when tackled.
- Inefficient versus press coverage. He will struggle one-on-one against top-tier press corners.
As you can see, there are some very exciting aspects to Goodwin’s game. As I mentioned earlier, his speed is going to give his fellow receivers all sorts of room underneath. He is also going to be a scary weapon on special teams. On the flip side, his catch rate is definitely a concern. But I feel that if he works on his hands and concentration, he can improve. His slight frame is far from ideal. However, I am convinced that Shanahan will use him very similarly to the way he used Gabriel in Atlanta. Expect Goodwin to be set in motion away from defenders early and often, then sprint down the field for thrilling gains and touchdowns.
Count me in!
Stay tuned for our next write-up in our 2017 49ers Free Agent series.