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Can We Stop Pretending Devonta Freeman Was Good?

Can we stop pretending Devonta Freeman was good? (Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports)

Before the start of the season, I needed to put out a Tweet. For whatever reason, it’s still the year 2019 and people have not figured out that coaching matters. Shocking, I know.

It’s still the year 2019 and no one can fathom the concept of the San Francisco 49ers. They’re 2-0 to start the season with both wins coming at home. San Fran has put up 72 points in the first two weeks of the season. Matt Breida, an undrafted back from Georgia Southern, has 158 yards on 27 carries to start the year. Raheem Moster, a journeyman that has played for 5 teams, has 123 rushing yards on 23 carries to start the year. Kyle Shanahan is every bit as good if not better than Sean McVay. You will realize that this year when San Francisco wins the NFC West a year before they really should.

That leads me to my point. It does not matter what running back you give Kyle Shanahan. They will put up numbers in his zone blocking scheme. It’s an art that has been around since the early days of mankind. Mike Shanahan did the exact same thing. Olandis Gary was a monster. Terrell Davis is in the Hall of Fame as a 6th round pick. Mike Anderson rushed for 1,487 yards after being drafted as a 6th round pick out of Utah. He was supposed to be a fullback. Reuben Droughns finished in the top 10 in rushing in 2004. Tatum Bell looked like the most explosive running back in the NFL.

Kyle Shanahan
Kyle Shanahan

These are just two plays. There’s constantly players in motion or guys zooming to an area to create space. It doesn’t even matter who the player is. You tell me who the hell number 31 is on San Francisco? Couldn’t tell you, nor does it matter.

Guess what? 90 percent or all of the guys on that list above probably suck. It’s the system, not the player. Do you know who else sucks? Devonta Freeman. Stop trying to pretend he was or is a good football player. It’s never been the case. Freeman owes Kyle Shanahan every dollar in his pocket because in reality, he stinks.

Freeman was drafted out of Florida State in 2014. He was a borderline starter at FSU. He never put up jarring numbers in college. It’s why he got picked in the 4th round. During his rookie year, Freeman posted 248 yards on 65 carries. That’s 3.8 yards per carry. Freeman was a lost puppy. He had no confidence. He was just a normal running back left for dead and off a roster in a few years. Luckily, the heavens graced him with Kyle Shanahan.

The next year, Freeman made the Pro Bowl, rushed for over 1,000 yards, and 11 touchdowns. In year two of the Shany system, Freeman turned into a star. Freeman went from a nobody into a guy averaging 4.8 yards per carry and making the Pro Bowl. I wonder why. HMMM.

Eventually, Shanahan landed his own head coaching job. People continue to disrespect him despite the fact that he has a record of 10-2 when Jimmy Garoppolo is his quarterback. In the meantime, Freeman went back to the guy that he’s always been. A total dog shit running back that never had any real talent. In the first two games of this season, Freeman is averaging 2.2 yards per carry. Freeman, 27, should have plenty of gas left in the tank. Carries is not an issue. It’s the fact that the ghost of Kyle Shanahan is gone. Devonta Freeman did nothing before Kyle Shanahan and he will do nothing after.

It’s a tale as old as time. The Kyle Shanahan running back will always be productive. It’s one cut and go. The ones with a sliver of talent can become stars. When I say sliver, that’s being generous. One of these days, Kyle Shanahan will get a superstar running back. In the meantime, we can all enjoy the best Mike Shanahan disciple (outside of Kyle) Gary Kubiak tear it up with Dalvin Cook. Dalvin was already a top 5 running back talent. Now he’s going to lead the league in rushing with this system. Stop disrespecting Kyle Shanahan. He’s one of the best in the business.


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