Super Bowl 2020: Kyle Shanahan defends 49ers' controversial timeout decision
Shanahan called the decision to not call a timeout near the end of the first half a 'no brainer'
Kyle Shanahan's decision to not call a timeout near the end of the first half of Super Bowl LIV has been dissected from just about every angle in the days following the 49ers' 31-20 loss to the Chiefs. Instead of calling a timeout with 1:45 left in the first half, Shanahan decided to let the clock run, as the 49ers appeared content to go to to the locker room at halftime with a tied score.
Shanahan, during a meeting with the media on Thursday, stood by his decision not to call a timeout that would have given his offense more time to try to score before the end of the half.
"No, absolutely not," Shanahan said when asked if he regrets the decision, via 95.7 The Game. "That was one of the reasons we were up 10 points going into the fourth quarter. Absolutely wouldn't call a time out at that time because we were expected to be backed up inside the 10, just like (we) probably should have been at the 1 if they wouldn't have messed that play up.
"I was as confident in what we did in that situation as anything we've done all year, and I mean that strongly. That's something you work at for two weeks studying that team, what they're capable of doing. You're not going to give the ball back to them no matter what in that situation."
While he didn't give his offense much time to try to score, Shanahan said the goal was to make sure that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' quick-scoring offense would not have a chance to get the ball back before intermission. Shanahan supported his logic while referencing what Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense did during the final minutes of the game, when Kansas City scored 21 unanswered points that started with Mahomes' 44-yard pass to Tyreek Hill on third and 15 with 7:13 left.
"The way (Mahomes) did that third-and-15 at the end of the game is how he does a two-minute drive," Shanahan said. "Felt extremely good with how we went. Not using the timeout there was a no-brainer."
While the main objective was to make sure that the Chiefs wouldn't get the ball back, Shanahan said that the 49ers' approach would have changed had they gotten more yards on their first play their final drive of the half.
"If we would have got an explosive run on the first one, then it would have been a whole different deal," Shanahan said, "but we got a two and a half yard run. So the whole goal was to not let them call a timeout there, so you hurry to the line to act like you're going, but then you don't so that you can ensure that Mahomes won't have an opportunity."
After two runs gained five yards, the Chiefs called timeout with 20 seconds left. Garoppolo then hit Jeff Wilson for 25 yards, which led to the 49ers using their first timeout. Garoppolo then hit George Kittle for a 42-yard gain before Kittle was flagged for pass interference.
"We would have had an opportunity to score if we didn't get the offensive PI," Shanahan said.
Instead of having the ball in field goal range, a kneel down by Garoppolo killed the final six seconds of the half. The 49ers would then score the game's next 10 points before the Mahomes and the Chiefs scored three consecutive touchdowns late in the contest.
John Lynch, the 49ers' general manager, was one of the people who initially thought a timeout should have been called by Shanahan. Lynch, who was also present for Thursday's media session, was asked to discuss his initial reaction to the decision not to call a timeout.
"I was thrilled for our guys (forcing a Chiefs' punt)," Lynch said. "I get excited watching these games. Not much I can do up there, but I've got these guys' backs. It's not my role to do time management, and I don't focus a lot on it. I was proud of our getting a big stop, and that was my initial reaction."
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