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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan explains bizarre clock management at the end of the first half vs. Cowboys

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 22, 2023 at 9:25 PM--

San Francisco 49ers fans were irate at head coach Kyle Shanahan as the first half neared a conclusion during their NFC Divisional Round bout with the Dallas Cowboys.

Why? Shanahan had elected to shave off a significant amount of game clock to begin San Francisco's drive, rather than choosing to be aggressive with his two-minute drill.

As a result, the 49ers were only able to come away with a field goal, which provided them with a three-point lead heading into halftime.

While Shanahan understands why his decision-making may have caused a reaction from his fans, the head coach doesn't regret his clock management at the end of the first half.

"[I can understand the reaction that our fans had], not just because I can hear [the reaction, but] because if I'm a fan, I'd be very annoyed, too," Shanahan said. "But I'm pretty confident in what we did there [at the end of the first half]. That's one of the reasons when you play a good team like that and you hold them to 12 points."

The 49ers' head coach elected to lose 25 seconds of game clock prior to calling the team's second timeout because he didn't want to provide the Dallas Cowboys a chance to score before ending the half, as they began the second half with the ball.

Ironically, that strategy that Shanahan was afraid of has been commonplace for the 49ers whenever they've gotten the chance to defer and begin with the ball in the second half.

The 49ers were able to pick up a first down conversion on the 3rd & 1 play they encountered, which provided some momentum for the offense, where they picked up steam for the field goal try at the end of the half.

In hindsight, Shanahan may have thought differently, but he didn't want to provide an opportunity for the Cowboys, had the 49ers not converted on third down.

"Once you get the first down, then I wished we'd moved faster," Shanahan said. "But you don't know if you're going to get that first down or not. So you have to play it the smart way. I thought we did that."

However, on the final play of the drive before the 49ers kicked the field goal, San Francisco nearly faced some hot water as Brock Purdy barely got an out-of-bounds throw off before the clock expired.

Purdy acknowledged his mistake post-game, trying to help understand his decision-making in the moment to reporters.

"I looked left, and our read was covered," Purdy said. "I thought I had a little more time, in terms of looking back right to Deebo. Obviously, it was a pretty close call. I got to be better at throwing the ball away."

Regardless, the 49ers were able to pick up the field goal and keep a 9-6 lead heading into halftime.
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