Quarterback Brian Hoyer is entering his ninth NFL season, and the 49ers mark the sixth franchise he’s gone under center for. To date, he has started 31 games, compiling a 16-15 record. Over his entire career, Hoyer has thrown 44 touchdowns to 26 interceptions, managing a 59.5 completion percentage. These run-of-the-mill numbers don’t inspire too much confidence – it’s unlikely the light finally turns on at age 32.
But what makes this an interesting dynamic to watch is that this will be Hoyer’s second season playing for Kyle Shanahan, a man regarded as one of the better offensive minds in the league. And when you zoom in on Hoyer’s sample with Shanahan, solely the 2014 season with Cleveland, it’s arguably the peak of his pro career.
That year, the Browns scored 21+ points in 10 of 16 games – Hoyer started all 10 of those contests. Of his 13 total starts that year, he led Cleveland to wins over New Orleans, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Atlanta. In his first nine games, his touchdown ratio was fairly low, but he had a respectable 90.4 passer rating as the Browns went 6-3 to start the season.
It’s clear Hoyer fit in with what Shanahan wanted to do, and there was a competency level and positive working relationship between the two.
That leads us to an excerpt from a special season preview on NFL Network, in which Hoyer and Shanahan both discussed their bond, and why they reunited in San Francisco.
“I really wanted to get a quarterback who I believe is tough, could hang in the pocket, keep his eyes downfield and try to run an offense,” Shanahan said.
“And being with Brian, I was only with him a year, but I definitely know he’s capable of that,” the 49ers coach added. “Even if I wasn’t with Brian that year, just watching how he’s played on tape, he’s put it on tape with other teams also. Brian gives you a chance to win, Brian gives you a chance to run an offense.”
Hoyer then revealed why he joined the 49ers when he had multiple suitors.
“For me, when I had that opportunity as a free agent to kind of choose where I wanted to go, the major selling point for me was Kyle,” he said. “And that was because I played with him before, and then watched him go on to have great success in Atlanta. I just felt, there was a gut feeling that kept telling me 49ers.
“For me, I think even going back to Cleveland, it was kind of just learning on the run. We did have some success. We were a top-10 offense. I feel like I’m a different player from then, I’ve played a lot more games, and he’s coached a lot more games and got Atlanta to the Super Bowl with one of the greatest offenses in the history of the NFL.”
Hoyer and Shanahan only got to scratch the surface of their working relationship. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Pettine at the time, and not the main shot caller. And between Pettine and the front office, there was mounting pressure to start first-round pick Johnny Manziel, which led to disarray and Shanahan’s eventual resignation.
What else did Shanahan see in Hoyer that he hitched his wagon to him in Cleveland, and more so, why he’s the first quarterback he wants starting for him in his first ever stint as an NFL head coach?
“He’s going to go through his progressions, he’s a tough guy, he doesn’t watch the rush, and he gives you a chance to move the ball. You either get better or worse I always say, and I think there’s a lot more out there for Brian.”
Media courtesy 49ers, USA Today Sports Images