It was mid-way through the fourth quarter, the 49ers were down and needed a key drive to get back in the game. I turned to Evan Sowards, the loudest neighbor I've ever had at a 49ers' game, and whispered, "Kyle needs to feed [Carlos] Hyde on this drive."
There was 13:31 left in the game, San Francisco got the ball on their own 18-yard line, looking to tie the game, down 17-10 at the moment. The very first play of the drive was a deep incomplete pass to WR Marquise Goodwin. Next play, QB C.J. Beathard throws a good ball to TE George Kittle, who drops the pass. Third and long coming up, you and I both already know what the play call is going to be. (Narrator: it will be a pass)
Beathard drops back and behind a patchwork offensive line, he gets sacked for what seemed like the 100th time in this game. Fourth down and the 49ers are punting it back after 56 seconds. Why didn't Shanahan want to run the ball against the Cardinals? Yes, you're down, but there's still 13 minutes left in the game. Carlos Hyde is the best player that the SF offense employs, so why not use him?
That begs the question, is Kyle Shanahan not adjusting to the strengths of his offense in his first year of being a head coach? Let's take a look the 49ers' head coach's history of offensive play selection.
Washington Redskins (2013): 611 passing attempts to 453 rushing attempts
Cleveland Browns (2014): 502 passing attempts to 477 rushing attempts
Atlanta Falcons (2015-16): 1,158 passing attempts to 841 rushing attempts
San Francisco 49ers (2017): 366 passing attempts to 199 rushing attempts
Why isn't there more balance in some of these offenses? The Redskins featured QB Robert Griffin III, but also had RB Alfred Morris at the time. The quarterbacks for the Browns included Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, so why not balance the offense to help out the signal callers out?
The Falcons have the right balance, because of the array of weapons at the disposal of Matt Ryan, so I understand why Shanahan would structure the game plan that way. With the 49ers and now rookie QB C.J. Beathard, why isn't the team trying to allow him to manage the game, rather than make all the plays.
That's the one perplexing part to the 2017 season. I expected San Francisco to be bad -- definitely not 0-9 bad -- but their offensive play selection has been tough to stomach. But this answers part of my question. Kyle Shanahan is a brilliant mind and will probably forget more than I'll ever know about schemes and play-calling, but there's a history and pattern showing he tends to be pass-heavy.
The biggest knock on Shanahan is that he didn't run enough in the Super Bowl up 28-3 to close the deal against the New England Patriots. It'll be something to monitor as the season goes on and as we head into 2018. Can Shanahan begin to adjust his offense to the strength of the players, or will he continue to force feed his scheme to a team that doesn't have the talent to run it currently?