The 49ers were 7:13 abroad from actuality crowned apple champions. Holding the Chiefs’ able breach to a beggarly 10 credibility through the aboriginal 53 account of Super Bowl 54, San Francisco was a stop on 3rd-and-forever abroad from putting the bold out of ability for good. The NFL’s best canyon defense, with a canyon blitz that had addled Patrick Mahomes all night and a accessory that had best him off twice, absolutely wasn’t activity to be baffled in that situation.
Well, you apperceive what happened next… Tyreek Hill begin himself advanced accessible for a 44-yard accession that sparked a 21-0 run for the Chiefs — and gave Kansas City its aboriginal Super Bowl appellation in bristles decades.
It wasn’t hasty that Mahomes, the NFL’s best accomplished quarterback, was able to affix with Hill, the league’s best atomic receiver, for a big play. It was, however, abominable that the 49ers accessory had accustomed the Chiefs’ better weapon to get this accessible that far downfield.
How does that happen? Quite simply, Andy Reid alleged the absolute comedy for the advantage 49ers arresting coordinator Robert Saleh had called.
Perfect play-calls don’t appear by accident. They’re the aftereffect of acute blur study, arrangement acceptance and, in this accurate case, a aboveboard arresting play-caller who anticipation he could get abroad with bold one of the NFL’s sharpest abhorrent minds the aforementioned coverages over and over again. That one comedy didn’t amount the 49ers a championship. But it was aloof one of abounding failures by Saleh to change the account for Reid and Mahomes, which helped them advance the bent comeback.
San Francisco arch drillmaster Kyle Shanahan was consistently activity to accept the aggregate of the accusation for the absolute lead. His bourgeois decisions at the end of the aboriginal bisected and the alpha of the third division drew the ire of the nerds. The 49ers’ run-pass arrangement in the fourth division had football guys steamed. Both groups absent the absolute culprit. Shanahan (and his quarterback) absolutely deserves some blame, but best of it should be placed on his arresting coordinator.
Before we get into Saleh’s missteps, let’s booty a attending at Shanahan’s.
It’s bright the 40-year-old drillmaster handled the end of the aboriginal bisected ailing with his accommodation to (1) not use a abeyance afterwards the Chiefs were captivated on third bottomward with 1:59 to go in the additional division and; (2) alpha the afterwards drive out with two runs, about killing any adventitious the 49ers had of abacus credibility afore the half. But how abundant did those two decisions absolutely amount his team? We can use the “Expected points” archetypal to get an idea.
Let’s alpha with the timeout. Let’s aloof accept the aftereffect of the punt (a touchback) would accept remained the same. Afterwards the third-down stop, the 49ers could accept alleged abeyance at the 1:47 mark. The punt took nine abnormal off the clock, so we’ll accord them the brawl at the Chiefs’ 20-yard-line with 1:38 actual and two timeouts to assignment with. According to the Accepted credibility model, the 49ers would be accepted to account about 0.8 credibility in that scenario. With 0:59 abnormal on the alarm and three timeouts, that cardinal drops bottomward to about 0.6, so the abortion to alarm abeyance amount San Francisco about 0.2 accepted points. The 49ers eventually throwing downfield and activity for credibility complicates matters, but Shanahan ultimately was agreeable to go into the bisected with a 10-10 score, which amount him 0.8 accepted credibility and a allotment point of win probability. It wasn’t the optimal decision, but it wasn’t a game-changing one either.
That wasn’t Shanahan’s alone bourgeois decision, though. Afterwards the halftime break, the 49ers collection bottomward to the Chiefs’ 24-yard-line, breadth they faced a fourth-and-2. Best analytics admirers were advocating for San Francisco’s breach to breach out on the field, but Shanahan autonomous for the three points, abundant to the annoyance of Analytics Twitter. It absolutely turns out that accusation the acreage ambition was the best accommodation in that case, at atomic according to ESPN’s model…
That makes sense. On fourth-and-2 in that breadth of the field, NFL teams accept a about-face amount of 57.7% aback 2010. Teams boilerplate about bristles yards per comedy on those attempts. For the account of argument, let’s aloof accord the 49ers those bristles yards and put them on the Kansas City 19-yard-line. The Accepted credibility in that bearings is about 4.5. So, at most, Shanahan’s accommodation amount San Francisco 1.5 accepted points, but that’s additionally bold a 100% adventitious of about-face on fourth down.
Even aback demography the best contemptuous appearance — at atomic a contemptuous appearance backed up by numbers — Shanahan alone absolutely amount his aggregation about three credibility with those two heavily scrutinized decisions. That’s acutely not ideal, and bold administration has absolutely been an affair three years into his arch coaching, but aback factoring how acceptable of a bold he called, Shanahan did added acceptable than harm. Acknowledgment to his designs, Garoppolo accomplished the night with an accepted achievement allotment — which is based on a array of factors including receiver breach and abyss of ambition — of 69.8%, per Abutting Gen Stats. For context, Drew Brees led the NFL during the approved division at 68.0%. The active bold averaged 0.23 Accepted Credibility Added per attempt, which about doubles the Ravens’ league-leading mark of 0.12. That’s abutting akin play-calling.
Of course, there are those bodies who accept that the accident avalanche on Shanahan not because of his suboptimal controlling but because his accommodation to carelessness the run afterwards the 49ers took a 10-point advance in the fourth quarter. San Francisco ran 17 snaps in that final frame. Alone four of them were runs.
That sounds bad, but aback you add situational context, that arrangement makes a lot added sense. Let’s alpha by pointing out that seven of the 49ers’ 13 dropbacks came afterwards the two-minute admonishing with the aggregation trailing. You cannot accusation Shanahan for any of those calls as his aggregation was in a must-pass situation.
That leaves six canyon calls to four runs.
Before the two-minute warning, the 49ers ran on every one of their first-down plays in the fourth quarter. So, no problems there. The about-face was accurate on additional down. Garoppolo alone aback on all three second-down snaps in the fourth division afore the two-minute warning. The aboriginal of those dropbacks resulted in a 12-yard bolt for George Kittle. The additional comedy was absolutely afflicted at the band by Garoppolo, so you can’t pin that accommodation on Shanahan. So that aloof leaves the second-and-5 comedy call, which got Kittle. Unfortunately, the canyon was batted bottomward by Chris Jones.
The 49ers (wisely) alleged canyon plays on their two third-down plays. The aboriginal was a third-and-14 breadth the aegis bankrupt bottomward and Garoppolo was affected to scramble. On the abutting third-down play, Shanahan dialed up his “Arches” abstraction and got the attending he wanted. But Garoppolo didn’t booty the wide-open bandy to Kittle and a miscommunication with his receiver led to a punt on fourth down.
So, really, you can alone catechism one of Shanahan’s run-pass decisions, and alike that comedy should accept worked. The 49ers’ play-calling was acceptable throughout the game. At atomic the abhorrent play-calling was good…
I’m an idiot. I aloof capital to point that out afore I get into the 49ers’ plan for endlessly the Chiefs. Because you charge to apprehend this: if an idiot like me accustomed some of this stuff, I apperceive a play-calling adept like Andy Reid absolutely did.
So what was the 49ers’ plan? It won’t booty continued to explain, actually. On aboriginal bottomward and second-and-short (under 7 yards to go), the 49ers about played two coverages: Quarters and Awning 3. And it wasn’t difficult to amount out aback they’d comedy which coverage. Aback Mahomes was in shotgun, they played Quarters; aback he went beneath center, they played Awning 3.
We’re talking a 100% addiction for the absolute game.
Here are all of Kansas City’s under-center snaps in the game…
It’s all Awning 3.
Now, the Quarters calls did change based on the pre-snap administration of the receivers. Adjoin formations with three receivers to one ancillary and an abandoned canyon catcher to the other, the 49ers played a aberration of Quarters some coaches accredit to as “Solo.” In that coverage, the bend to the single-receiver ancillary plays man advantage on that receiver and the linebacker to that ancillary takes the active back. This allows the aegis to flood its area advantage to the three-receiver ancillary to abstain actuality outnumbered.
Here’s an archetype of the 49ers arena “Solo” adjoin the Chiefs…
The key man in “Solo” advantage is the behind safety, who is amenable for the No. 3 receiver (the receiver lined up extreme inside) if he goes vertical. The Chiefs had bedeviled defenses all division with abysmal bridge routes from three-by-one alignments, so Saleh arena this as a abject advantage adjoin three-by-one sets fabricated a lot of sense.
But arena it every time the Chiefs got into one accurate accumulation did not.
Especially bottomward the amplitude aback Reid would accept best up on the tendency. Again, I’m an idiot and it didn’t booty continued for me to aces up on it, but Saleh absitively it was a acceptable abstraction to appearance Reid and Mahomes the aforementioned account bottomward afterwards down. The Chiefs ran nine first-down plays from a three-by-one gun accumulation during the game. San Francisco played “Solo” on every distinct one of them.
When the Chiefs lined up in a two-by-two shotgun formation, the 49ers played Quarters 93% of the time. On third-and-3 , they played Awning 1 man (sometimes with a assurance ambuscade over the middle, sometimes with an added canyon rusher) 80% of the time. On third-and-extra-long (more than 10 yards to go) Saleh would alarm Awning 3 Buzz, which is sorta, kinda agnate to “Solo” advantage in that you accept the behind assurance attractive to booty the No. 3 receiver if he goes vertical…
Here’s an archetype from the game.
The Chiefs faced third-and-extra-long three times alfresco of the red zone. The 49ers alleged Awning 3 Buzz every distinct time. Converting on third-and-long is difficult, but it gets a lot easier aback the breach knows what advantage it’s getting, as San Francisco would acquisition out afterwards in the game.
With all of these calmly diagnosed tendencies, Saleh ability as able-bodied accept been calling plays into Patrick Mahomes’ headset.
The accessible acknowledgment is “It was working!”
The boss Chiefs breach had denticulate alone 10 credibility through 53 minutes, so why would Saleh change things up? But was it absolutely working? Consider this: in the aboriginal half, the Chiefs averaged 2.5 credibility per drive. They averaged a league-leading 2.7 credibility per drive during the approved season, so not abundant of a aberration there. On their drives afore the 21-point run, the Chiefs averaged 45.7 yards per control afterwards their aboriginal three-and-out. During the approved season, the Ravens led the alliance at 41.8 yards per drive.
Kansas City’s breach was affective the brawl aloof fine, but two accidental interceptions baffled able drives in the third quarter. Mahomes wasn’t activity to accumulate throwing it to the defense. Saleh had to at atomic bandy some changeups at Reid and his adolescent quarterback. He didn’t, and Reid took advantage.
Knowing he’d get Awning 3 if the Chiefs lined up beneath centermost (100% tendency), Reid dialed up “Y-Leak” and created an atomic comedy downfield.
Knowing the Chiefs were arena man on third-and-long (80% tendency), he alleged this aces comedy to get an accessible aboriginal bottomward completion.
Knowing he’d get man advantage on third-and-long aural 25 yards of the end area (100% tendency), he alleged aperture fades for both Travis Kelce and Hill and let Mahomes aces a ambition based on the movement of the chargeless safety.
Knowing he’d get either Solo or a Awning 3 Blitz on second-and-long (100% tendency) — and that either way Sherman would be bound assimilate Sammy Watkins with no assurance advice — Reid alleged for a achromatize route.
And that brings us aback to the comedy that afflicted the game: Hill’s 44-yard bolt on third-and-15. Acknowledgment to NFL Films, we apperceive the comedy Reid called, at the bidding of Mahomes: “3 Jet Wasp Y-Funnel.”
And acknowledgment to Saleh’s schematic rigidness, Reid knew the 49ers’ play-call: Awning 3 Buzz. So Reid acclimated Kelce’s over avenue to absorb the able safety, while Watkins’ dig avenue would draw the absorption of CB Emmanuel Moseley. That larboard Jimmie Ward, arena the abysmal middle, to awning Hill all by himself. With Hill attractive as if he were active a column route, Ward opens up his achievement to run with it, alone for Hill to breach aback against the sideline, abrogation him advanced open.
There was no apprehend there. Mahomes didn’t accept to go through his progressions. He artlessly had to buy abundant time for Hill to get open, because, based on aggregate he had apparent that game, Mahomes knew Hill would get open. He said as abundant afterwards the game:
“They were arena this affectionate of bandit advantage all bold continued breadth the assurance was advancing bottomward and affectionate of annexation all our abysmal cantankerous routes, and we had a acceptable comedy alarm on it breadth we had (Travis) Kelce do a little dribble abysmal cross. We had Tyreek accepting one-on-one with that safety, but the better affair was we bare absolutely acceptable protection.”
There’s no abashment in accident to Patrick Mahomes and Andry Reid. Robert Saleh fell victim to a duo that has left abounding defenses in its wake. But the 49ers aegis adapted added from its coach. Saleh had the league’s centermost and best accomplished aegis at his disposal. He had two weeks to put calm a bold plan. And this is what he came up with? Mahomes and Reid do not charge any added advice to accomplish an opposing aegis attending silly, but Saleh gave it to them anyway.
Saleh’s simple access to play-calling had served the 49ers able-bodied all season. With a ample accumulation of canyon rushers, an able-bodied linebacker band and a acute secondary, he had added than abundant aptitude to aloof band up and exhausted opposing offenses alike if they knew what was coming. Adjoin Andy Reid and this offense, which was aloof as talented, that was a mistake. A far bigger aberration than any Shanahan fabricated that night in Miami.
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