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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Young believes Kyle Shanahan’s conservative play-calling is due to 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Nov 17, 2022 at 12:45 PM--

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Is Kyle Shanahan's play-calling too conservative? Many watching Sunday night's game against the Los Angeles Chargers might say it is. The San Francisco 49ers offense scores an average of 22 points per game, ranking 18th in the NFL. Coincidentally, that's exactly how many points they scored in the win over the Chargers.

Most would think the 49ers should score more on offense rather than stalling and settling for field goals. There is too much talent on the roster with playmakers like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk, Jauan Jennings, and recently-added running back Christian McCaffrey.

On Monday, Shanahan was asked if he felt his offense wasn't clicking and if anything could be done to increase production in the second half of the season. The coach tried to defend his offense, pointing back to Sunday night's performance as an example.

"Not clicking ... We got inside the 10-yard line five times and scored touchdowns on two of them, so I believe if we did on those other three, I feel we would've been clicking huge," Shanahan said. "We would've had over 30 points, and things are going pretty good. So if you go to that game, I think we need to be better inside the 10, but there's lots of things. I thought we were moving it great. I thought guys did a good job."

Shanahan added, "We do what we do, and I thought our guys did it at a pretty high-level last night, but when you end up scoring only two times, and you're inside the ten five times, it's tough to get more than 30 points."

The coach's response didn't really defend anything. Instead, Shanahan basically confirmed that if they had hypothetically converted more missed opportunities, he wouldn't be having this discussion, which was kind of the point of the question itself.

Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young joined KNBR on Wednesday and was asked if Shanahan is too conservative as a play-caller. While the 49ers great didn't directly respond, "Yes," he suggested the idea to be accurate and even provided a reason for it.

"It goes back to the conversation we've had [about the trust in Jimmy Garoppolo]," Young said on the Tolbert & Copes show. "... because I can guarantee you that Kyle would love to throw for 500 yards a game. He's like his dad, I'm telling you. ... It's really just how they manage each other and how they create the space for each other. The management is full-speed ahead. They're managing each other, and that's how it is, and that's fruitful, and it's fine.

Young noted that he hoped Garoppolo would go to Shanahan earlier in the season and figure out how they could build more trust in the quarterback-coach relationship. Despite Garoppolo having one of the better statistical seasons of his career, nothing the 49ers have shown has Young believing that the trust level has improved.

"The idea, philosophically, that Kyle wants to run the ball is not true, and people need to leave that behind," Young added.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Young below.


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