Colts' Leonard glad Shanahan went away from first-drive success

Darius Leonard

The 49ers opened Sunday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts looking like the offensive juggernaut of old. Coach Kyle Shanahan drew up a perfect opening script as the 49ers used misdirection to march down the field, going 78 yards in eight plays to take an early 6-0 lead at rain-drenched Levi's Stadium.

But that wasn't a harbinger of things to come. After that opening drive, the 49ers' offense was stale outside of a three-play, 70-yard drive in the second half in which they torched the Colts with, you guessed it, misdirection.

Following Indianapolis' 30-18 win, Colts star linebacker Darius Leonard was thankful Shanahan went away from the plan that delivered the 49ers' opening-drive touchdown.

"I just knew that I was going to come in and get about two or three punchouts, but they did a great job, especially in the first quarter about misdirection runs and putting us in bad positions to make plays," Leonard said after the game. "So, they did a great job there, and I was glad they kind of went away from that.”

Shanahan pointed to the 49ers' lack of ability to execute and connect on explosive plays as a reason for the offensive stagnation outside of those two drives.

“We didn't get a big play in those others," Shanahan said when asked about the difference between the 49ers' two touchdown drives and the rest of the game. "Had a couple opportunities for them, didn't get them. In the first drive, we hit all of them. On the last drive, we hit all of them. Both of them I believe we avoided third down on all of them, got a bunch of explosives and it seemed pretty easy. It is tough to get explosives every drive. We had a few opportunities big time for it.


"I think one we had an illegal guy downfield, one we had a holding, I think we had [WR Brandon] Aiyuk alone across the field, it got tipped with the holding before he could let it go. You come up short on those explosives. When you don't get those explosives, you either have to move the chains running the ball or you have to be able to do something on third down and we didn't do anything on third down today.”

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Shanahan admitted he hasn't found his rhythm as a play-caller this season, but that the 49ers' offensive woes are due to multiple things that need to be cleaned up.

“It's a lack of discipline when you get a couple penalties," Shanahan said. "We can do better at that. There's times I don't think we throw and catch very well. Then you got to make some big plays, which we had a chance at the run game early on, but we didn't get that going for three quarters after that. It’s a combination of everything.”

The 49ers now are 2-4 and sinking to the bottom of the NFC. They'll look to snap their four-game losing streak when they visit the 3-4 Chicago Bears in Week 8.

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