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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan explains failed fourth down conversion call in 49ers loss to Saints

Nov 15, 2020 at 8:11 PM--

Had a few key plays gone differently in their 27-13 Week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints, perhaps the San Francisco 49ers might be traveling back to the Bay Area with an upset win in their pocket and a much different vibe heading into their bye week.

But, unfortunately, the 49ers had too many plays go in the wrong direction against the Saints that altogether eventually wound up costing them the game.

One such play was a failed fourth-down conversion late in the second quarter that saw running back Jerick McKinnon stuffed for a two-yard loss. The play came on a fourth-and-one at the Saints' 41-yard line and followed an incomplete pass attempt from Nick Mullens to Brandon Aiyuk on the play before.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan explained his thought process in calling the play when speaking to reporters after the game. Shanahan said the third- and fourth-down plays were more or less mapped out in his mind beforehand, and it was just a matter of which play would happen when. Neither play turned out the way he wanted, and as a result, the Saints took possession and were able to score a touchdown before halftime to take a 17-10 lead.

"I debate every call, every play," Shanahan said. "I knew when it was third-and-one, I knew we were going to have two downs to get it there. So, I was going to throw on one, run on the other. I debated for as long as I could which one I wanted to do each one on. Obviously, neither of them worked, so I wish I could have had that back."

The fourth-down call can be included with the two interceptions and two special teams turnovers the 49ers had in the game that put the Saints in a position to pull away. It was also part of a tough running performance overall for the 49ers, who were limited to 49 total yards on 25 carries.

"They started to blitz the field to try to keep our outside run game -- to try to let that not get out of the gate," left tackle Trent Williams said of the Saints' run defense. "They had a good game plan. They haven't showed that on film much. That was something we had to make some adjustments to. By the time we made our adjustments, it was kind of a passing game at that point, coming from behind."

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