Wednesday afternoon, I asked Kyle Shanahan why his outside-zone runs didn’t work against the Panthers.
Here’s what Shanahan said: “Just the same reason any one is. You don’t make the blocks. You don’t get the hole. We did have an outside zone one that I thought we had everyone blocked and we just tripped going through the line. If we would have hit that one, it would have been a 30 yarder and then we would have really messed up your outside zone stats because the one we got would have been a gash, we just tripped. All the others weren’t good ones. So, it looks like you’re averaging .5 on the outside zones and it’s just one play that changes it all for stats.”
I went back and watched the play Shanahan referred to. It occurred with 2:42 left in the second quarter. Hyde ran to the left, tripped in the hole and gained only one yard. If he hadn’t tripped, there were 20 yards between him and the next defender.
But Hyde didn’t “just trip,” as Shanahan said. Shanahan made the play sound as if Hyde tripped over his own feet or slipped on grass. Hyde actually tripped on the left leg of center Daniel Kilgore, who had gotten pushed into the backfield by defensive tackle Kawann Short.
That play had no chance for success.
Shanahan never should have called an outside-zone run that went toward Short in the first place. The Niners don’t have an offensive lineman who can block Short one on one, so they should have ran away from Short every time they ran an outside-zone play.
Shanahan made a mistake.