49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan made the decision to roll with his veteran quarterback despite what was made out to be a significant thumb injury. The offense wasn’t pretty during the first half. However, I thought Shanahan took matters into his own hands to start the third quarter. After that, the 49ers found their groove offensively and never looked back.
Coaching is much more than calling plays. Shanahan showed trust in young players Ambry Thomas and Jauan Jennings, who made critical plays that led to the 49ers' win.
He also showed faith in his defense when Shanahan punted the ball after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, knowing the game was over if the Rams picked up a first down.
The team overcame the loss of Trent and K’Waun Williams and their punter, Mitch Wishnowsky. Facing a 17-point deficit, the Niners never flinched. That’s been how this season has gone. Adversity strikes and the Niners punch back.
Peter King writes a weekly column titled Football Morning in America for NBC Sports. King gave Shanahan his weekly “Coach of the Week” award:
“Starting 3-5, knowing his job was shaky if he finished out of the playoffs for a fourth year out of five running the Niners. Having must-wins in Week 10 and Week 18 against the division champ Rams and winning both. Gutting out a crazy win at Cincinnati against the suddenly great Joe Burrow. Finish 10-7 in the toughest division in football, living to fight another day in the NFC playoffs. He’s not coach of the year, but damn, he’s coach of the something.”
There was a moment of relief during Sunday’s postgame presser. The emotions of the regular season for Shanahan had to be exhausting.
When you run the show as Shanahan does, you’re going to face the brunt of the criticism. If Jimmy Garoppolo fell flat on his face in the second half, that’s on the head coach. If the defense continued to give up big plays, you guessed it, that’s Shanahan.
The team recovered, bounced back, and here we are talking about a playoff berth.