Kyle Shanahan sees Lamar Jackson as a running back, when he runs the ball

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Earlier this year, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson remarked after his latest spectacular performance, “Not bad for a running back.”

In the eyes of some, however, he really is a running back. When he decides to run, that is.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan explained the difference between Jackson and other mobile quarterbacks during Shanahan’s midweek session with reporters, four days before the showdown between the 10-1 49ers and the 9-2 Ravens.

“He’s just different in that he’s a running back when he has the ball,” Shanahan said. “You know, the other two guys [Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray], they can make a lot of plays with their legs and stuff, but eventually, they are going to slide and things like that. This guy, he’s a running back out there, and a quarterback when he’s throwing, but he can run hard. You’ve got to bring him down. He can take the hits and he also can deliver them.”

That’s really the key difference. Unlike most quarterbacks who run, Jackson doesn’t slide and doesn’t get out of bounds and doesn’t seek to avoid contact when he runs. He just goes, in the same way a running back does.

“This isn’t just zone-read,” Shanahan said of the Baltimore offense. “This guy runs quarterback power, quarterback counter, all types of running back runs. It’s not just a race to the sideline. . . . You’ve got to be ready for anything. You’ve got to be ready for a wildcat offense, but the wildcat guy is still a quarterback too.”

So how can defenses catch up with what the Ravens are doing?

“I don’t think it necessarily is catching up,” Shanahan said. “Just like I didn’t think the defense ever caught up with the zone-read either. It’s not a trick play. It puts guys in a bind. It makes teams play 11-on-11 football. You’ve got to decide whether you want to play 11-on-11 or if you want to keep things the same and play 10-on-11. Most people, usually the quarterback, makes you pay if you play 10-on-11 when you have these type of quarterbacks. . . . Eventually, you can take stuff away. Then you’ve got to balance it out and see what holes that opened up because they take it away. I think it will be that way until the end of time. I mean, no one catches up with this stuff. It’s not a gimmick play, it’s a very sound way to run an offense and they are doing it at a very high level right now.”

For Jackson, the running also helps the passing.

“If you are that generational type of runner, then you’re going to get some better passes, too,” Shanahan said. “He’s been more than good at doing well in those situations. The way he’s thrown, he’s gotten it to the right guys, and if the looks aren’t there right away, he’s been unbelievable turning it into a run just like you see Russell do a number of times. He’s going to get better, as everyone does, with the reps and more looks that they have throwing the ball more in the league. But, when you are as special as he is running the ball, you can be a lot more patient with that because his looks aren’t going to be quite the same because of how much he scares everyone on every other play.”

That fear comes from his fearless ability to rack up significant yardage once he decides to run. As long as he can still avoid the kind of big hits that can cause injury, it will work. Against a physical defense like the 49ers, however, it could be hard for Jackson to avoid those big hits.

27 responses to “Kyle Shanahan sees Lamar Jackson as a running back, when he runs the ball

  1. Certainly Jackson has surprised me. Didn’t think he was a good enough passer in college to be a success in the NFL. But, I want to see what he does if they are trailing by two scores, because they have just jumped out in front of everybody and played on their terms. Also, let’s see what happens when teams start to see him multiple times. But he has been incredible.

  2. imbebop says:
    November 28, 2019 at 8:03 am
    Sounds sort of like a threat__________

    What? Did you read the article or just the headline? Nothing he said sounded remotely like a threat.

  3. Possess the ball and keep him off the field. Easier said than done. A few teams in the league can put together long drives against this Baltimore D. That’s really their only shot unless Lamar throws picks or fumbles. I will say that the Ravens are starting to talk Super Bowl out loud in late November. They will have to win a lot more games to get there. Could be viewed as bulletin board material

  4. Wow. That’s deep. A running back when he runs the ball. And a quarterback when he throws the ball. What’s next, calling him a receiver if/when he catches the ball? A punter if he punts the ball?

    carloswlassiter says:
    November 28, 2019 at 10:13 am
    One shot to the knee and it’s all over.

    The same can said for any of the 22 players on the field on any play. Mr. Jackson is an elite athlete, probably better than Mr. Vick or any other so called “running” QB. Will he get injured? Very few football players at any position manage to avoid injury. At this point, he seems to be good enough to avoid the big hit that might cause a significant injury. He is amazing. Will he be amazing in 5 years? Who knows. But for now, if you are a fan of football, you should appreciate what he is doing.

  5. “One shot to the knee and it’s all over.”

    The same can be said of every player out there. Personally I think he’s an exciting young player that makes the league as a whole better and more exciting. Wish him luck except when he’s playing the Pats.

  6. How many so called pocket passers have missed games since Lamar last missed a game? Oh and that game that Lamar missed was a game at Louisville his Freshman year.

  7. Remember what Baltimore did the Kaepernick in th SB? Hit him almost every play and wore him down. I’d expect a similar game plan from Niners D this time around. This is gonna be a great game. Wish it was on in prime time tho!

  8. “Sounds sort of like a threat”

    Sounds like good football strategy and exactly what Baltimore did to Kaepernick when playing the 49ers in the Superbowl with Suggs hitting him constantly when they ran the read option. It isn’t dirty, it is hard-nosed football.

    Teams right now really have two options to stop Baltimore. Get bigger, faster and more skilled at LB or simply attempt to hit Jackson every time he runs that zone read and every time he goes and takes off. If he’s not going to slide then you hit him like you would any RB or WR.

    If every defense committed to unloading on him at every legal opportunity, eventually all those hits would take their toll. So far they have been reluctant to do so because you open yourself up to the possibility of a big play going against you but at some point, some team will throw caution to the wind and just go all in after Jackson. It ended up working for Baltimore in the SB so surely they wouldn’t begrudge other defenses employing the same strategy now.

  9. pointtwopsiistheissue says:
    November 28, 2019 at 8:33 am
    All the coaches are into “ analytics “, so what are the odds he gets hurt? Just wondering, not wishing anyone harm.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    37 6 Rate This
    Analytics says that pocket QBs are more likely to get injured than running QBs.

    So the odds of Jackson getting hurt are less than Tom Brady getting hurt.

    Not wishing anyone harm just trying to answer your question.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  10. Well the NFL has teams scared to death to hit a QB now days and KUDO’S to the Ravens for using that to Lamar’s advantage!

    Has anyone ever seen a QB go this far into their career(19 games started) without getting their initial “WELCOME TO THE NFL” hit?

  11. All these comments about hitting Lamar when he’s in the read option is easier said than done. Yes, the Ravens used it against Kaepernick and the 49ers in the Super Bowl in 2012. What you fail to realize is that Greg Roman learned from that and this is a completely different Offense than the 49ers ran. Much more complex in their motioning and in the use of their 3 TEs. Every play, Lamar typically sends a guy or 2 in motion, sometimes 2 or 3 times. Why do you think he’s doing that? He’s reading where the free runner could come from and putting a man over him to protect against that. The 49ers ran it mostly from spread with Vernon Davis and a 3 Receiver set. This strategy was much easier to accomplish against that set just by blitzing an extra man. The Ravens are usually crowded around the ball when they run the option with 3 HUGE TEs that will chip or block any free runner. Not as easy to accomplish. As I stated weeks back, the best chance of stopping it is to have a front 4 that can blow up the Ravens Oline and be in the backfield when this reading is going on. The Steelers actually played against it the best of any team this season. They whipped the Ravens up front. But if you think it’s as easy as sending a CB or LB off the edge as free runner every time to hit Lamar, you either don’t know football, or you haven’t really seen the Ravens play and paid attention to their scheme. Not saying it can’t be accomplished, just not in the way the Ravens did it to the 49ers.

  12. iowanderingwonderer says:
    November 28, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Analytics says that pocket QBs are more likely to get injured than running QBs.

    So the odds of Jackson getting hurt are less than Tom Brady getting hurt.

    But what those analytics don’t take into consideration is that most of the pocket QBs get hurt while running. And also how can you compare running QBs to pocket passers fairly when there are/have been very, very few running QBs to draw those numbers from to compare them? Also for the few running QBs there has been there aren’t very many of them that haven’t gotten injuried and because most have been very poor passers most of them just don’t make it for very long in the NFL, so its an apples to oranges comparison as they say.

    Quite frankly there isn’t/hasn’t been enough running QBs that have lasted long enough in the NFL to make a realistic comparison! When using analytics don’t make the mistake of using them in a case like this, when pocket passers out number running QB about 50-1, sure the numbers are going to say the pocket passers get hurt more often, but just because they out number the running QB by such a huge percentage so of course they’re going to be more of them that get injured. Now if you just take the pocket passers and figure out how they got injured and use that percentage and do the same for running QBs I’d bet it isn’t even close, running QBs get hurt at a far higher percentage when the numbers are broken down correctly.

  13. While I am not a fan of either I do respect them both. I had to laugh at the comments from 9’er fans about a running q.b. do you recall a guy named Steve Young? He was great! So I guess most of you are very young.

  14. Aaron Rodgers noticed the same thing in a preseason game, and advised LJ to slide instead of taking hits like a running back, the way that RGIII did. Luckily for LJ, he is a good pocket passer, and if he cannot run anymore, he can still be an effective passer.

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