Charvarius Ward made life miserable for Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf. Funny thing is, that wasn’t the plan until the last minute.
Prior to the game, Ward had a different job to do on Thanksgiving. After a talk with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, that changed. Here’s Ward’s comments in the locker room:
“I think he asked the DB Coach [49ers defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks] and he and John Lynch talked, and they were wondering why I wasn’t following DK tonight. The game plan wasn’t for me to follow him. I guess he talked to John Lynch and Coach Shanahan was like, “Why not? We need him to.” They told me to do it, and I was up for the task. I feel like I had a pretty good game.”
What may have happened was Daniel Bullocks spoke to John Lynch, Lynch went to Kyle Shanahan, and Kyle Shanahan adjusted immediately.
Outside of his injury during the game, Ward never left Metcalf. Metcalf was held to three receptions on nine targets and 32 yards with 0 touchdowns. Those 32 yards gained make the 49ers game his least productive of the 2023 season as of Week 12.
Some may read into this and bring Steve Wilks into it, thinking he had a hand in the original plan or that his defensive gameplan was terrible so Shanahan got involved. The truth is Wilks called a great game with some perfectly timed blitzes and made life hell for Geno Smith all night. If it was Wilks who had the original idea for Ward to not cover Metcalf it’s as simple as 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan being 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. It’d be more concerning if Shanahan wasn’t getting his fingerprints on the defensive gameplan, even in small adjustments.
It can seem a bit odd when the offensive-minded head coach is changing the defense, but it’s not unusual. Watch any behind the scenes Tom Brady/New England documentary and you can see Bill Belichick, a defensive minded head coach, talking to quarterback Tom Brady about gameplans and even getting after him with certain offensive plays don’t look the way he wants them to.
They had a plan, Shanahan made an adjustment, simple as that. And it turned out to be the right call.