49ers Film Review: Five offensive plays that led to loss in Seattle

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Trent Sherfield makes a catch during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Seattle. The Seahawks 30-23. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

The list of mistakes made by the San Francisco 49ers in dropping their second game of the season to Seattle on Sunday probably resembles some of those being received up at the North Pole this time of year.

With that being the case, this week’s film review will focus on the five most critical errors made by the San Francisco offense.

Let’s start off with everyone’s favorite scapegoat, Jimmy Garoppolo.

1st and 10, San Francisco 23, First Quarter

On the first offensive play following a touchdown pass to George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo makes his first big mistake of the game. This is a simple play-action pass with only two receivers out on routes. Garoppolo’s first read, basically his only read on this play is the crosser to Trent Sherfield.

Garoppolo sees that Sherfield is going to be open and throws the ball too early. If Garoppolo holds onto the ball just a beat longer to allow Sherfield to clear the linebacker this is a big play. Instead, it’s the 49ers’ first turnover, and the defense bails them out by holding Seattle to a field goal attempt which goes wide right.

3rd and 8, San Francisco 8, Third Quarter

After a fumble by Travis Benjamin to open the second half, San Francisco’s defense comes up with a big turnover when K’Waun Williams grabs a deflection off the foot of Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett for an interception.

The downside of this exchange for the 49ers is they take possession of the ball on their own three-yard line.

Facing third and long, Kyle Shanahan calls for a pass and Jimmy Garoppolo is sacked by Carlos Dunlap for a safety.
There’s a lot going on with this play, so let’s break down the two major factors contributing to its failure starting with right tackle Tom Compton. At the snap of the ball Dunlap is able to strike Compton clean in the chest. This blow knocks Compton onto his backside and Dunlap gets ahold of Garoppolo’s collar to bring him down.

Now let’s look at the second factor in this play. Watching Garoppolo drop back you can see that he drifts to his right slightly. While this may not seem like much, that slight drift helps close the gap between the quarterback and the defensive player. Had Garoppolo dropped straight back, he may have been successful in his attempt to escape up the pocket to avoid the rusher.

1st and 10, San Francisco 35, Third Quarter

On the 49ers’ next possession following the safety, Garoppolo completes a 21-yard strike to Brandon Aiyuk to get San Francisco out of the shadow of their own endzone. In the next play, he makes his second big mistake of the game.
Garoppolo’s eyes on this play should go first to Trent Sherfield running the deep crossing route from right to left, then down to George Kittle running a dagger, down to Elijah Mitchell.

Sherfield is open on this play, but Garoppolo doesn’t see it and tries to force the ball to George Kittle. The pass sails high and is intercepted by Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs.

With this play coming on first down and Garoppolo not clearly seeing the picture in front of him, the smart play is to hit Mitchell on the checkdown and live to play another down.

3rd and 8, San Francisco 23, Fourth Quarter

Another play deep in San Francisco territory. Garoppolo finds Brandon Aiyuk open in the Seattle zone defense and hits him. While the pass is a little high, Aiyuk climbs the ladder and gets both hands on the ball.

As Aiyuk is coming down, former 49er defensive back D.J. Reed hits him in the back and Aiyuk is not able to hold onto the ball as he hits the ground resulting in an incompletion.

Instead of having the first down out near midfield, the 49ers are forced to put and won’t get the ball back again until only 4:03 remains in the game.

4th and Goal, Seattle 3, Fourth Quarter

San Francisco has driven the ball 95 yards on their final possession of the game. Following a close incompletion to Trent Sherfield on third down, Kyle Shanahan dials up another play with Sherfield as the primary target.

The routes play out exactly as Shanahan had drawn up, George Kittle takes the linebacker upfield which opens the hole for Sherfield who is wide open. As soon as Garoppolo sees the linebacker move with Kittle he makes the throw to Sherfield.

One problem. Right tackle Tom Compton has been pushed back for the second time on a key play by Carlos Dunlap who is able to get his hand up and knock the pass down at the line of scrimmage to seal the victory for Seattle.

Good play call by Shanahan. Good read by Garoppolo. Better play by Carlos Dunlap.

This article has 15 Comments

  1. Jack so glad you are doing the Inside the 49ers. Really appreciate your judgement and comments.
    1st and 10, San Francisco 35, Third Quarter
    Trent Sherfield was wide open deep and it was pretty obvious, but Jimmy never goes there. This would have been a touchdown, but Jimmy will not throw deep. He could have overthrown to his heart’s content on this one, no one was behind.

  2. Mistake after mistake after mistake. Kyle is a great play designer and a great play caller for the most part. That read option with Jimmy was a real head scratcher though. The difference between Good & Great is execution. Somehow guys like Bill Belichick coach their guys to execute with minimal mistakes. They always seem to be in the right place at the right time. They tackle. They don’t have too many fumbles or drops. You can say it’s on the players to execute but explain to me how Bill Belichick gets players with inferior talent to beat opponents because they always execute as coached. I don’t think it’s always on the players. Coach guys in a way that demands excellence in executing their job. Not sure Kyle has that part in him. Can you imagine a guy like Josh Norman pulling those antics on a Bill Belichick team? I think BB would sign Norman but Norman would be too afraid to pull that crap on the field.

  3. Does anyone know if there is some metric that shows how much a head coach contributes to his team’s overall play and takes into account injuries? If so I wonder how Kyle does on that. I would guess he’s somewhat average.

  4. Another game, another instance where Shanny blames Aiyuk instead of himself and the coaching staff. This time for giving up the 70+ yard TD on the fake punt:

    “No, they just got us on it. They made a good play call, a risky one, backed up like that. But it was a good one. We had two guys doubling the gunner and we had a guy in the six-man box. And as you run that, you run the risk of a guy coming off the gunner unblocked, which would be a dead play. And they rolled the dice on it and we didn’t have a guy come off and that’s what happens. So there’s nothing the players could have done differently on it. I’d like Aiyuk to make the tackle down the field so it’s not a touchdown and we could live another day. But they got us on that and that’s something we have to look at in our tendencies and everything like that.”

    WTF Kyle… Aiyuk had two blockers and the runner coming at him. This is just total bullish!t and it’s the coaches fault anyway. How the hell do you completely fall asleep and break containment on a punt? The second defender on the gunner doesn’t even bother looking in towards the ball.

    I have no idea what sort of disdain Shanny has for Aiyuk. Some of it early in the season may have been deserved but should have been kept private. Calling him out for not making a tackle when he’s got blockers between him and the runner is just complete nonsense. I love he found a scapegoat but didn’t bother to say that’s on the coaching staff, especially after the special teams got burned on a return just one week before against the Vikings as well.

    1. “I’d like Aiyuk to make the tackle down the field”
      I also would have liked Aiyuk to make the tackle, HOW IS THAT BLAMING HIM????

      He didn’t say he blamed him for not making it. Give me a break.

      1. You don’t put a statement out on a hot mic like that. Press Conferences 101. It is absolutely seen as calling someone out when you literally get in front of the media and single him out on a play that reflects more poorly on yourself and the coaching staff.

        If done privately I’d have no problem with it.

        Somehow I don’t think Harbaugh would have used this tactic back in the day. He was a total ass personality-wise but the players always felt he had their backs and protected them.

        Shanny seems more along the lines of the Urban Meyer school of coaching. And like Urban this clown hasn’t had the career success in the NFL to be able to constantly single his players out. Eventually they’ll just tune him out because who has respect for a boss like that? What has Shanny ever accomplished?

    2. Aiyuk’s attempt looked pretty weak to me but he sure wasn’t blamed. Of course if you are always looking for something to blame Shanahan, you can get irate over nothing.

  5. Yeah, the fake punt TD was not on Aiyuk, it’s on the 49ers coaching staff. The truth of the matter is simple – Shanahan got out coached on virtually every facet of the game.

    Continuing to run against a 8-9 man defensive front is not only foolish but downright stubborn. The RPO run from Garoppolo was doomed from the start.

    On another note. Why can’t our place kicker Wisnowski ever kick the ball into the end zone?
    This guy was drafted high because of his strong leg. Perhaps kicking the ball into the end zone could help curtail the problem with long returns.
    Our current kicker has become a liability.
    Shanahan has to address this.

    1. I’m with you on the Kyle got out coached view. Seems like fans have divided into two camps: Kyle is a genius and the problem has to lie with Jimmy G (and they have the solution with Lance) and those who think that Kyle is an OC who is still learning the HC part. The good news is that we should see about the Jimmy G argument when he moves on. The bad news is that Kyle maybe is really not up to the HC part. The thing that is so frustrating to me is that the 49ers are playing a version of three card monte with us. IOW we never know who is accountable for our QB situation or any of the other screw ups who contribute to losses. In the case of QB, we all know who has been chosen for the position over the years and if Jimmy is not the one then who is it we can thank for the litany of losers we have had to live with. And, with that said, why should we trust that they have the answer with such a dismal record in the past. The only answer we seem to hear is getting the right players is just a crap shoot, ya know. So stay with us while we keep on rolling the dice and perfecting our genius system. At some point having poor players is not going to cut it as an excuse.

    2. Pray tell. How would you know if Shanahan got out coached? You complain about trying to run against an 8 man front but half of the other whiners complain because he didn’t run more. Wisnowski was not drafted because of his strong leg. He was drafted because of his accuracy on punts. By the way was there anything you liked about that game?

      1. Sure, there were many things in the game that I liked. But getting faked on a 73 yrd TD certainly left a sour taste.

        I understood how a fake punt can fool a team for 10 – 20 yrds, but virtually untouched for 73 yrds is a complete breakdown. And that’s on the coaching for not preparing his players for what took place.

        If there’s one ray of hope, it’s that after the penalties, mistakes on offense and special teams the 49ers still had a chance to tie the score then go for a two point conversion for the win.
        But of course, that did not transpire.

        1. The fake punt doesn’t bother me much. The special teams coach calls a play based on what he thinks the opponent will do and he guessed wrong and the only player who had a a chance was Aiyuk. Every play call is a gamble and often the opponent doesn’t do what you expect. That’s football and not every unsuccessful play requires that someone be blamed. What bothers me are the turnovers and penalties. Those are what cost us the win. Some how we save our worst game for our most hated opponent.

          1. Factoring in the fake punt for the 73 yrd touchdown was the difference in losing the game.
            And with all due respect, it certainly bothered me.

        2. Unfortunately I will never forget that faked punt returned for a TD! And not just a TD, a 73 yrd TD!!! When was the last time that I faked punt resulted in a TD? I sure haven’t seen one until last Sunday.

  6. What irritate me the most, besides the fact that I hate the Seahawks the most, is that we lost twice to a bad Seahawks team!!! They won 4 f***ing games and 2 against us!
    A lot of people are saying that we are a good team coz in spite of the bone headed plays that we could have still won the game. True.
    But I say that’s how BAD the Seahawks are coz in spite of our bone headed plays we still could have won the game. Which make us what? A bad team!
    Losing to the Seahawks is bad enough, but losing to a BAD Seahawks team is the worst!

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