There has been plenty of discussion about the interception Jimmy Garoppolo threw on Sunday, so let’s bring it in one place. The play was designed to go-to tight end George Kittle, who was lined up in the slot. Rams safety John Johnson mugged Kittle at the line of scrimmage, and that threw the timing of the play off. Deebo Samuel was lined up to the right of Kittle, where he ran a fake screen. After quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t throw it to Samuel, the rookie receiver decided to turn his route upfield. That took Rams cornerback Marcus Peters to the play, where he intercepted the pass. There are numerous things wrong with this play. First, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan talked about the play during his postgame media availability.
“Kittle couldn’t get away from the guy grabbing him. He threw it up to Kittle, thought Kittle had him beat, but he just couldn’t get away from him grabbing him. Then, another guy who was guarding someone else came into it. I wasn’t too upset with Jimmy on that play. That was the call that I made and liked the look. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the call.”
The 49ers were screwed because the holding call wasn’t called on the field. Since turnovers are automatically reviewed, there was no way the offense was getting that call. The Rams were lucky, but the Niners still didn’t execute. Here are the routes on the play.
It’s a “smash” concept, where Samuel fakes the screen, and that gives Kittle the entire half of the field to work with. Here is the play at full speed:
There are three things wrong with this play. 1) Holding 2) Samuel running his man back into the route 3) Garoppolo severely under throwing Kittle. That pass has to be to the back-pylon where only Kittle can get it, or in the stands.
Johnson holding Kittle altered the path of the tight end. How that call gets missed on the goalline is beyond me. It should be a one-person route, but the rookie got antsy, tried to do too much, and it backfired. I know Shanahan didn’t fault Jimmy on the throw. I don’t think he’d say anything publicly after watching the play again. That doesn’t mean there were corrections in meetings. Even if Kittle isn’t held and Samuel doesn’t move, Kittle would have to backtrack towards the pass, and the best-case scenario is pass interference.
This play is a prime example that it’s rarely just one persons fault on a play. There is plenty of blame that can be passed around here. The common theme with the NFL, especially this season, is it starts with the refs.
There has been plenty of talk about Garoppolo. This quote from Shanahan was interesting:
“Sometimes we’re counting on you to give us a chance to win and sometimes we’ve got to count on you to not give the other team a chance. Sometimes it can be tough for a quarterback when we’re managing the game a lot with our defense, when they get us to some leads and the way they’re playing. There come times in certain games where you feel the only chance for the other team to win is if we turn it over, so you try to get in those situations where you want to eliminate the possibilities of that.”
Garoppolo has gone from gunslinger to “I’m here when you need me,” and it’s benefitted the team. It’s not that Shanahan doesn’t trust his quarterback. There were a handful of examples Sunday that prove otherwise. Shanahan understands that, especially with the 49ers defense, erring on the side of caution makes sense when you have the lead.