It’s funny how the narrative changes when plays don’t work. We want Kyle Shanahan to stay aggressive, knowing Patrick Mahomes is on the other sideline. So when Shanahan called a passing play on second down in the fourth quarter trying to protect the lead, something Shanahan has done several times this season with success, and the play doesn’t work, he gets grilled. On the drive before, Mostert ran the ball for one yard on first down, and six on the previous first down. On the possession before where the 49ers scored, Mostert’s only carry went for two yards. It was Jimmy Garoppolo delivering passes on the money to open receivers that put the 49ers in the end zone. As much as we want to fault Shanahan for conservative play, throwing the ball in this spot wasn’t the incorrect call. Now, if you’re mad, the Niners didn’t come out and throw on first down, then I could understand that argument.
Shanahan spoke about Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance:
“I think he did some real good things. When I see the tape, I’ll find out more, but I thought Jimmy played alright.”
”Alright,” stands out. To be fair to Garoppolo, he played very well for a good portion of the game. I mentioned in the recap there were a few missed throws to George Kittle. The overthrow to Emmanuel Sanders at the end of the game is getting a lot of run on the internet. Sanders was open, but I didn’t feel like that was the routine throw most made it out to be. Should it have been a completion? Sure. Does that mean Garoppolo lost the Niners the came? Come on now. The fourth quarter was going to come down to both quarterbacks making plays. One did, and one didn’t. I wouldn’t read into what happened any further than that.
Two plays specifically that weren’t thrown to Kittle won’t get much discussion. The first one came with 10:25 to play. It was 3rd & 5, and that was the play where Jimmy threw to Tevin Coleman short. Kittle was wide open, sitting in a zone for a first down. The 49ers kicked a field goal to go up 13-10. The next came with 5:23 left in the game on third down. Garoppolo was hit on the play and airmailed a pass to Kendrick Bourne. It was a “follow” concept to Kittle, and the design was great, and Kittle was open. Jimmy G’s lack of anticipation hurt the Niners in this game when they needed him to make a play.
After the game during his media session, Jimmy said, “it wasn’t our night” when asked a question. I couldn’t disagree more. This was the perfect opportunity for the 49ers. Up until Patrick Mahomes threw an interception, they didn’t have a passing play over 29 yards. That changed in the fourth quarter. The point is the 49ers gameplan on defense was great. I don’t think Shanahan had a bad gameplan. It was the actual calling of the plays and knowing when to do so that hurt the offense.
Shanahan was asked on how difficult it will be to move past the Super Bowl:
“It shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll lick our wounds. We’ll get over this. We’ll be fired up for next year. We’ve got a lot of people coming back. I think we surprised a lot of people this year. We knew we had a good team, and I’m very proud of the guys and how much better they got throughout this year. And I expect to get almost all these guys back. Plan on adding a few more. I’m going to rest a little bit, get over this some, but we’ll be very fired up for next year.”
I like the confidence. People were calling for Shanahan’s head after the game, which is laughable. He made a lot of mistakes on Super Bowl Sunday. He wasn’t the only one who did, though.