SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- When the San Francisco 49ers set out to remake their team in free agency under first-year coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, there was a recurring theme in the players they found: familiarity.
Led by quarterback Brian Hoyer and receiver Pierre Garcon, the 49ers brought in a haul of players on the opening day of the league year, including several with ties to Shanahan or other coaches on San Francisco's staff.
Garcon, who starred at Mount Union from 2005-07, had his most productive year with Shanahan calling plays, having caught 113 passes for 1,346 yards in Washington in 2013. He committed to the Niners despite not knowing for sure who would be quarterback.
Garcon said he also plans to be a sort of player-coach, helping others learn the offense implemented by a coach he knew would have great success when he first started working with him. Shanahan was coordinator on his father Mike's staff in Washington.
"We knew it was going to happen that Kyle would follow in his dad's footsteps and want to be better than his dad," said Garcon, who won Division III national championships with the Purple Raiders in 2005 and 2006. "You could see he had the mind of a football guy. He knows a lot for such a young age. I knew he'd be a head coach at some point, but didn't know when it would come or how fast it would come."
Hoyer, meanwhile, a product of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School, spent the 2014 season in Cleveland when Shanahan was offensive coordinator and posted a 7-6 record in 13 starts and threw for a career-high 3,326 yards. Hoyer plans to go back to his notes from that season to bone up on Shanahan's offense so he can help get his new teammates up to speed quickly on the complex system when the offseason program begins next month.
"It isn't the easiest system," Hoyer said. "That's why it works, because Kyle is able to put a lot of stuff on the players. It will help to have Pierre, who has played in this system. It will help to have Logan, who has played in the system. You have to bring those other guys along and that's part of my responsibility."