Shortly after Kyle Shanahan accepted the 49ers head coaching position, Atlanta announced Steve Sarkisian, most recently with University of Alabama, will fill Shanahan's old post at offensive coordinator.
What Sarkisian will not be doing, however, is changing the Falcons' offensive approach. According to head coach Dan Quinn, they will continue to use the scheme that helped them score a historic amount of points in 2016.
"100 percent, that's the style we want to feature moving forward," Quinn said Tuesday. "We love the way we attack and it took a lot of work to put that system in place. So along with Thomas, we had a real emphasis on the personnel and how we can feature guys into that system. It's very important that we stay consistent with that."
Staying consistent in this regard means returning players won't have to deal with a learning curve during the offseason. No one has to process more of the playbook than quarterbacks, and as Matt Ryan showed this season en route to MVP honors, the setup Atlanta has in place fits him extraordinarily well.
"Matt has real trust and belief in our system and in our program. Man, that was cool to hear from a player telling you that," Quinn said. "It's not just from him but from other players, as well. I wanted to make sure he understood fully we're going to feature all the things that make us so unique here. So, he understands that.
"It allows you to have really open conversations. I think when a player is first coming in, [you say], 'This is how you take this, this is the footwork, this is the balance.' Now that you have two years into it, Matt's able to articulate his own thoughts on some things. 'How do I tweak this? I may run this differently than you may have coached before.' When you get to that spot where you can articulate how to do it, that helps a lot."
While he won't construct a new playbook, Sarkisian will, of course, bring unique qualities to the Falcons. General manager Thomas Dimitroff described the 42-year-old as smart, aggressive, creative and a good fit personality-wise.
And Quinn, who knows two people who have worked closely with Sarkisian (Pete Carroll and Nick Saban) believes his new OC has the right kind of experience to build on Atlanta's recent accomplishments.
"We've had a good connection," Quinn said. "As a play caller, I felt like, No. 1, what an aggressive play caller he's been through the years. He has a real familiarity, from the wide zone scheme, the play-action, the keepers, that's such a big part of what we do. … I know what he stands for as a coach."