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Golden Nuggets: Shanahan’s decision to punt in the first half cost the 49ers 12 percentage points in win probability

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

After watching the 49ers' defense, they played much better than I initially thought. DeMeco Ryans is aggressive and stayed aggressive. He played man coverage on 3rd & 33. He blitzed Aaron Rodgers on the drive before the game-winning field goal. Rodgers played like Rodgers and that happens.

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Kyle Shanahan obviously wants to run the ball, but he was forced to lean on rookie Trey Sermon and fullback Kyle Juszczyk in Week 3 to middling results. He clearly doesn’t trust Sermon yet, and while fellow rookie Elijah Mitchell has flashed, the latter is also coming off an injury while filling in for the also-injured Raheem Mostert. San Francisco intends to be a contender in a crowded NFC West, so it can definitely afford a low-risk gamble on another piece for their running back rotation.

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Time and time again, however, he has proven why he’s considered perhaps the best offensive mind in the NFL. Here’s another example.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch tweeted Tuesday that per the Elias Sports Bureau, the 49ers are the first team since the 1970 NFL merger to have 11 different touchdowns score their first 11 touchdowns of the season.

Now, that does include one defensive player in linebacker Dre Greenlaw. Still, 10 different offensive players have scored for San Francisco. That lists includes two different quarterbacks, three different running backs — including an undrafted signee and sixth-round rookie — a fullback and four receivers, a list that includes an undrafted signee and former seventh-round pick.

The 49ers’ best offensive skill position player, George Kittle, isn’t even on that list. Kittle has 15 receptions on 18 targets for 187 yards this season, but he’s yet to get in the end zone.

Week 3’s biggest decisions: 49ers punt away their chances; Raiders follow fourth-down trend

Kyle Shanahan goes against the Guide

The 49ers offense faced four fourth-down situations in their Sunday Night Football home loss to the Packers — and Shanahan and Co. made the suboptimal decision to punt in all four instances, based on the Next Gen Stats Decision Guide. When you add it all up, the 49ers lost a combined 11.9 percentage points in expected win probability as a result of the decisions.

SECOND QUARTER: With 5:01 remaining and the 49ers (trailing 10-0) facing a fourth-and-1 from the Packers’ 49-yard line, Shanahan elects to take a delay of game penalty to set up a punt.

No decision to punt was more costly — in terms of win probability — than this one, with San Francisco losing 5.8 percentage points in win probability, when you take into account the odds of converting on fourth-and-1 (78 percent) and the Niners’ chances of winning the game based on each outcome (28 percent if they went for it versus 23 percent if punting).

Are 49ers true contenders in 2021 or just pretenders?

49ers often inconsistent offensive game plan needs to be addressed

It’s hard to imagine that anyone knows what to expect from the 49ers on offense. That can be a great recipe to keep other teams’ defensive units from being able to game plan. However, a constantly changing game plan can lead to inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball.

Through two games, the team has played two completely different games. Is it possible that with rookie quarterback Trey Lance added to the mix that the team has to shift from a clock-eating, throw-it-short offense to a high-octane, throw-it-deep offense and back to a clock-eating, throw-it-short offense?

Everything we know from 49ers’ loss to Packers

2. Brandon Aiyuk is back: The second-year receiver had his best game of the year by far with four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Getting him back in the mix will be a huge help for the 49ers’ passing attack if they get more consistent quarterback play.

3. Run game absent: The 49ers rushing attack never really got rolling Thursday night which is more problematic than anything else they had go wrong Sunday. They ran it 21 times for just 67 yards – an average of 3.2 yards per carry. They’re 2-9 under Kyle Shanahan when rushing for fewer than 70 yards. This has to get figured out or they won’t win consistently.