Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Kyle Shanahan’s mindset on 49ers’ controversial 4th-and-1 ‘zone-read’ play

Rohan Chakravarthi
Dec 6, 2021 at 6:45 PM--

Kyle Shanahan called one of the most perplexing plays of his career during San Francisco's 30-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks—a 4th & 1 zone-read run with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, that would've resulted in a turnover on downs had Alex Mack not committed a bizarre illegal snap penalty which nullified the play.

The choice to go for it was certainly controversial, given that San Francisco was at their own 39-yard line and were down by just seven points.

So, why exactly did Kyle Shanahan believe that it was the right choice not only to run the play in that situation, but with Jimmy Garoppolo and not Trey Lance?

"Because we thought it was a really good play to run versus those guys," Shanahan responded on Monday. "We didn't pull it because it was the right pull, we pulled it because our center stopped the play because he fumbled the snap then got knocked over by the nose guard and Jimmy could see the nose guard was in the backfield, so he just tried to save the play, but we weren't expecting it to be a pull with how wide their guy played on the line of scrimmage, who I think he was out past the hash mark."

As for why not specifically run the play with the rookie quarterback, Shanahan said that the focus of the play wasn't dependent on a single quarterback, but rather was designed due to what he saw from the defense.

"Yeah, because you can run zone-read with anybody," Shanahan said. "You don't need to just do that with a certain person. Lots of teams run zone-read."

Interestingly, despite Shanahan iterating that the play was specifically meant to be a run for JaMycal Hasty, Jimmy Garoppolo pulled the ball for a quarterback run, and was met by multiple Seattle defenders.

Who knew a penalty could be helpful for a team marred by harmful flags all season?

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