During Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, Brian Hoyer threw zero passes more than 20 yards downfield and only two passes more than 10 yards downfield. I asked Kyle Shanahan during his Monday conference call why Hoyer never threw deep. Here’s what Shanahan said:
“We had a couple shots early and the protection didn’t hold up. Then it was basically what they were giving to you. If you sit back and try to make a living in Seattle versus that pass rush of dropping back deep and just trying to throw deep balls, they are going to lead to a lot more sacks and turnovers than you are deep plays. Our goal is to win the game. We tried to call a game and put a game plan together that gave us a chance to win the game at the end. We didn’t think going deep all the time was the best way to do that. Depending on how they play is when you go deep. You just don’t call plays that say go deep or go short. It depends on what you’re going against.”
I don’t buy Shanahan’s explanation. He basically said he conceded to the Seahawks by taking what they were giving. He played into their game plan rather than dictating to them.
The 49ers missed multiple opportunities to throw long, such as when the Seahawks played bump-and-run man-to-man coverage with just one deep defender — the free safety. When the defense plays bump and run, the quarterback can throw deep quickly. He doesn’t have to take a seven-step drop and hold the ball and worry about pass protection. He just has to look off the free safety and make the throw.
Another opportunity to throw long came in the second quarter. The 49ers faced second-and-1 from the Seahawks 19-yard line and the Seahawks defense was playing three-deep zone. This was the perfect time to take a shot into the end zone. Shanahan could have called Y Stick Nod, or Four Verticals from a shotgun formation with a three-step drop by the quarterback. But Shanahan called a shallow crossing pattern for Pierre Garcon, and the pass was incomplete.
Shanahan coached scared against the Seahawks. Cannot win that way. Can’t do it.