Kyle Shanahan, Brock Purdy Explain 49ers’ 2nd-Quarter Clock Management

Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers.

When the San Francisco 49ers took the ball for the final drive of the second quarter of their NFC divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, the team had two goals: 1) put points on the board; 2) prevent Dak Prescott and company from doing the same.

Taking part in a game of inches that was ultimately decided by the efficiency of either team’s placekicker, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan curiously decided to run the clock with 50 seconds left in the quarter on third-and-1 despite his team not being within Robbie Gould’s field goal range. When asked about the decision during his postgame media session, Shanahan said the move was by design.

“That’s a tough thing for me to do,” Shanahan said, via 49ers WebZone. “I know it’s tough for our fans to watch, but when it’s third-and-1 — and I think there was, like, 50 seconds [and] they have two timeouts — I would hate to not get that first down to show you guys why I did it. That’s kind of something we believe in. We don’t want to give the ball back to them. We liked where the score was at.”

Still, reporters wanted to know whether he considered fan reaction when choosing to seemingly waste an opportunity to score.

“Yeah, not just because I can hear, but just because I’m a fan, too, and I would be very annoyed,” Shanahan said. “But I’m pretty confident with what we did there. I think that’s one of the reasons when you play a good team like that you hold them to 12 points. I think that stuff has to do with it. I think playing the game that way and the situation who you’re going against, the momentum of the game. I think that stuff is important.”

Brock Purdy Addressed His Own Clock Management Issues Before the Half

The 49ers’ quarterback, Brock Purdy, playing in only his second playoff game, had his own clock-management issues at the end of the second quarter. With the 49ers in field goal range, he almost let the clock expire while attempting to throw away the ball. Reporters asked Purdy why he checked down to the right before throwing the ball away with three seconds left on the clock.

“All throughout the week, we have what we’re trying to do, what their defense does, what our scheme is,” Purdy said. “But then also, like, our thought process of, dude, these are our playmakers. If we get the ball to this person or that person, chew some clock, let the defense play ball then we’ll have a chance at setting ourselves up for success and to win the game.

“So, [Shanahan] always goes over little situational football throughout the week. And then even before the 15 seconds hit, he’ll say some stuff in the headset like, ‘Hey, this is the situation: If it’s not here, throw it away, we’re in field goal range,’ whatever. So, he’s always done a great job with communicating and keeping things clear for me, and I appreciate that about him.”

The San Francisco 49ers Didn’t Draw Up Purdy’s Play That Way

Asked to specifically discuss the penultimate play of the second quarter, Purdy let it be known that, while the Niners did want to eat the clock, they weren’t looking to potentially spoil their own scoring opportunity by holding the ball for too long.

“Yeah. I looked left, I didn’t see — our read was covered,” Purdy said. “So, I thought I had a little bit more time than I had in terms of looking back right to [WR] Deebo [Samuel]. And obviously it was a pretty close call, so I’ve just got to be better with, if it’s not there, throw the ball away. So, he coached me up on and got on me, rightfully so.”

Asked how Shanahan reacted to his near-faux pas, Purdy disclosed that he wasn’t happy but didn’t get too mad since it all worked out in the end.

“He said you just got to be better,” Purdy said. “‘I told you, if it’s not there, throw it away.’ So, I thought I had a little bit more time and looked left, looked right, and just made it close.”

Shanahan commented on the play, too, inferring that he might have let out a word or two that wasn’t safe for work.

“That’s why I had my play sheet over my face [smiling]. It just got a little close for us with the time, so just wanted him to throw it away a hair earlier.”

The play ultimately didn’t impact the game’s outcome, and Purdy’s magical rookie season will continue for at least one more week.

In the end, all’s well that ends well, and that particular play will simply go down as one of the few negatives in Purdy’s magical rookie season, especially since it didn’t ultimately impact the game’s final outcome.

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