Kyle Shanahan is expected to be introduced as the new coach of the San Francisco 49ers soon and, for three quarters of football Sunday night, that hiring looked like a genius move.
As bad as Shanahan’s performance was, the 49ers can’t afford to be choosy after a two-win season and, besides, they’ve been waiting to hire him until the conclusion of his season. Shanahan has shown at numerous NFL stops that he is a more than capable offensive coordinator who deserves a chance to be a head coach. With Shanahan as offensive coordinator, Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP award and the Falcons jumped out to a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. But, after that, there were only four running plays. Four. Even when the team was in field goal range.
“The thought is to get as many yards as you can,” Shanahan said (via ESPN) of not running, “and we were right there on the fringe. It was by no means an easy field goal. From what I remember, we ran in on first-and-10 and lost yards. Got into second-and-11, so we try to get a pass to get us back into a manageable third down, closer to the field goal, and we took a sack.
“Taking a sack … got us into a third-and-20, so we threw a quick pass trying to get back into field goal range, which we did. But there was a holding call on the play. And when you get a holding call on third-and-20, it goes back that far. We were way out of field goal range. We tried our best to get back in but couldn’t get it done.”
Shanahan explained how he balances aggressive pass plays with clock management.
“It’s not really the run-pass ratio that I look at,” Shanahan said. “It’s you stay on the field, and you run your offense. When [we] went three-and-out two times, which was huge. I think we had second-and-1 on both of those. To not convert on second-and-1 and then third, it was tough. That’s why we let them get back into the game.”
Although it’s encouraging that Shanahan reportedly later acknowledged at the team hotel that “I blew it,” the 49ers are likely to proceed with the hire, now that they actually can hire Shanahan. The possibility of buyers’ remorse is outweighed his ability to develop a young quarterback. It’s worth the risk.
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