The 49ers’ defense is ahead of their offense.
Just listen to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who was asked Thursday if the defense’s speed had caught his attention.
“Apparently we can’t run the ball or throw the ball against our defense,” Garcon said, “so everything is standing out.”
This shouldn’t be too surprising: The offense being installed by head coach Kyle Shanahan is known for its graduate-level complexity, and players have noted defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme is fairly easy to digest.
In other words, there’s no reason to panic about the struggles of the 49ers’ offense in early June. That said, fans can be forgiven for offseason pessimism when it comes to an offense that’s ranked 31st in the NFL the past two seasons and failed to fix its myriad issues in a single offseason: The 49ers, for example, lack an established wideout beyond Garcon and their starting quarterback is Brian Hoyer, 31, who is playing for his fifth team in the past six seasons.
About Hoyer. He could be a serviceable placeholder, but his primary strengths appear to be his leadership and knowledge of the offense after Shanahan was his coordinator with the Browns in 2014.
On Thursday, Garcon and fullback Kyle Juszczyk raved about intangibles when asked Hoyer’s best traits.
“Brian’s got leadership; a lot of poise,” Juszczyk said. “… He’s someone that’s easy to talk to. So if there’s something you need to work out with him, he’s easy to come to and you can hash it out. He does a great job of leading this offense.”
Said Garcon: “He’s definitely being a good leader, helping us out, trying to get us all on the same page. It is tough because everyone is coming together and we’re learning something new.”
Indeed, the 49ers have added 51 new players since Feb. 21 and many are absorbing an offense that Juszczyk termed “a little more advanced” than what he ran the past four season with the Ravens.
On Thursday, the 49ers allowed at four unofficial sacks in practice and offensive line coach John Benton acknowledged his pupils’ work-in-progress status.
“I guess growing pains isn’t a bad term,” Benton said. “Obviously, unacceptable. As much as anything, we have to learn how to practice. I thought we had a really good day the other day. If you start doing that see-saw effect, we’re going to be in trouble all year.”
Many expect that to be the case for the 49ers, who are coming off a 2-14 season. Shanahan, CEO Jed York and general manager John Lynch have all made it clear they will patiently rebuild, which is code for: We’re certainly not going to the playoffs in 2017.
Still, it will be interesting to see what Shanahan, who was hired for his offensive acumen, can do with an offense that hasn’t ranked among the NFL’s top 10 in points or yards for 13 straight seasons.
The early returns in practice may be a bit discouraging, but the season opener is three months away. The 49ers will end their offseason program with a mandatory minicamp next week before reuniting in late July for training camp.
“When they come back from those six weeks (away), I think that’s when they really start to fine tune those details and get rolling,” said wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur. “We’ve got to do it at some point because we’re playing in September, regardless.”
Briefly: The 49ers released undrafted rookie OL Evan Goodman to make room on the roster for LB Elvis Dumervil, who was officially signed. … CB Rashard Robinson did not practice due to an undisclosed injury that didn’t appear serious. … LB Ahmad Brooks limped off at the end of practice. … LB Eli Harold missed practice for a personal reason. … Benton said a hamstring injury has kept C Jeremy Zuttah out of offseason practice, but he will be ready for training camp.
Eric Branch is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Eric_Branch