I’ve never pointed the finger at Kyle Shanahan for a loss, and very rarely have I had to say there are some boneheaded play calls with the San Francisco 49ers, but this is a boneheaded play call, and I place this loss on Shanahan.
So the play call? Well, this:
The key play to me was this 4th and 1 play in the 4th.— ourSF49ers (@OSf49ers) December 1, 2019
The #49ers failed to run in a crucial spot despite running great all day.
Definitely have to learn from these mistakes for the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/EpAUPhUaLC
Here’s some context:
For starters, the 49ers had been feasting on 4th down. They had a genius Deebo Samuel touchdown to start things, but after that, the run game, namely Raheem Mostert, were carving things up. Jimmy Garoppolo was also finding success on QB sneaks. So why.............and I want a lot of dots after this.............WHY?
..................Why does Shanahan call that?
Those of you who frequent NN know I’m more of a psychology and front office guy than X’s and O’s, so I thought, “maybe I’m missing something.” But everyone seems to be in agreement. Kyle Shanahan has held consistency in calling games. Great games. Very rarely do we look at him and say there are bonehead play-calls.
That is a bonehead play-call. Shanahan spoke about why he didn’t try a QB sneak, or a Mostert run in the post-game:
“We thought it was full yard, so it’s not always great to sneak it on. But definitely when they have people in there that you can’t block and safeties. They’re gapping it out so, the best thing for us was to throw.”
Passing it isn’t a bad idea, so I get where Shanahan is going with this. It was a bit long for a QB sneak to work also, so I get abandoning that idea, especially when the Ravens were clogging gaps. The 49ers got a touchdown to start the game when they ran a nice deep throw to Deebo. Now I don’t want them to go deep, because a touchdown pass-play is a terrible idea as the 49ers would need to chew as much clock as possible before giving the ball back. Still, a pass play isn’t a bad idea and why Shanahan didn’t run a play-action with Mostert (or at the very least put Garoppolo behind center) is beyond me. I think Shanahan agrees, at least that the pass play was a bad call:
“Definitely could have came up with a better pass play.”
Ironically, I blasted Greg Roman when he was with the 49ers as their offensive coordinator for some of those cutesy play-calls. These happened every game where some stupid play would get called (and we all remember the fourth-down call in the Super Bowl). Well, Roman was on the opposite side of the ball with the Baltimore Ravens.
Other things were maddening. Sure the Jimmy Garoppolo fumble hurt and was a gift for the Ravens, but the 49ers were terrible at clock management to end the first half. That again falls on Shanahan:
“What we’ve been doing all year, when we get that ball at the end of the second quarter, our goal is to finish with the ball in our hands.”
The fact he wanted to keep the ball out of Lamar Jackson’s hands makes sense, but in that situation, it felt more like they were playing not to lose. Well, you know where that gets you.
I know the Garoppolo haters will want to blame him for this, but he really didn’t play a bad game, given the conditions. A lot of this falls squarely on Shanahan.
And it’s rare when I say that.