The 49ers did not try to score at the end of the first half on Thursday night, instead just letting the clock run down and going into the locker room with a 10-0 lead. That came back to haunt them in a game they would lose 20-17.
But 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan defended the decision after the game, saying that late in the first half with the ball on their own side of the field, he thought the risk of a turnover was greater than the chance that they could get into field goal range.
“It’s just, there was 19 seconds. I didn’t want to lead to a turnover and give them a chance to get anything,” Shanahan said.
Many observers interpreted Shanahan’s decision as a lack of confidence in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Asked if Garoppolo’s play factored into the decision, Shanahan answered, “No.”
Whatever the reasons for Shanahan’s decision, it was a costly one. Although there’s always a risk of a turnover, getting into field goal range was absolutely possible, and Shanahan surely wishes today that he had tried to get three more points in a game his team lost by three.