## What were the most pivotal plays in the CAR@SF Game (read -- it ain't all Kap's fault)?

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Now that I can obtain play-by-play win probability data from Pro-Football Reference, we can look at which plays actually changed the game the most. There are two ways to look at it:

Now, before we begin, I want to be clear that I do not think that Kap had a good or even average game. It was not good. But when you look at the plays that cost us the game, its sacks, the Hunter Fumble, and Cam Newton converting third downs that cost us the most. Here is the play-by-play sorted by WPA:

As we can see, the most pivotal play in the game actually worked in our favor -- the fumble on 3rd and 2 (that was recovered by CAR) late in the game. After the punt, we still had a 38% chance of winning -- getting into field goal range and knocking it out. but the quick sack destroyed those chances, and a hasty INT ended them. We can also see that Kendall Hunter's fumble dropped us from an 83% chance of winning to a 60% chance of winning. We also see that the most devastating plays were sacks -- and failure to convert third and longs...we averaged 3rd and 10 on 3rd down yesterday, 3rd and 13 on passing downs. We completed one rushing 3rd down conversion out of 5. 1 passing conversion. We averaged 2nd and 10 on 2nd down. On average, we ended up punting or kicking a field goal on 4th and 9.

1. I converted win probabilities into a new measure that looked at how far from 0.5 the game was. so,

=IF(WP>.5,WP/.5,1-WP/.5)

2. I then wrote an IF statement that took the largest of four numbers:

a. converted WP-before, WP-after, WP-change, or the largest converted WP that the play traversed (i.e. if the play flipped the game from one team to the other).

3. So what we end up with is that if a play occurs when the game is 50-50, it has a weight of 1. if it occurs when its 100-0, it has a weight of 0.

4. I then multiply those weights by EPA.

Now, let's look at clutch-adjusted plays:

What we see here is that Kendall Hunter's fumble was the most impactful play of the entire game. worth 2x as much as Gano's missed field goal.

The reason it comes out like this is because the 49ers were already in terrible EPA position when bad plays happened...the exceptions being the Hunter Fumble and the 3rd down plays preceding each of Dawson's FGs. This, I imagine, would point to shoddy play-calling, right? We guessed wrong, they guessed right? Either that, or the Panthers defense just dominated our offensive line from start to finish.

Note: I am not scape-goating Hunter.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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