49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL, and while the successes of the offenses he has overseen certainly support that reputation, it might not do him justice.
Shanahan's genius was on display at one point during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game. Prior to a crucial third-down play, cameras caught him informing the sideline referee that a Green Bay Packers defender was about to commit a pass interference penalty.
"5-yard out route, 85 versus their guy," Shanahan told the official. "He's gonna go inside and break out, (the defender) won't let [tight end George Kittle] out. Watch."
Just as Shanahan had predicted, the defender held on to Kittle as he was breaking out of his route. Two penalty flags immediately were thrown, giving San Francisco an automatic first down.
That wasn't the first time Shanahan predicted that exact sequence would occur. Kittle recently joined Barstool's "Pardon My Take" podcast and explained that Shanahan knew that would be the result when the play was installed in practice.
"No, he said that when he installed the play on Thursday for a third-down play," Kittle said of Shanahan. "He goes, 'Look, when we're in this formation and this guy covers you, he always holds. So just push him inside and break out, he's gonna hold you.' And I was like, 'All right, sound good.' And then it happened.
"Like I said, the dude's a wizard. It's pretty fun to play for him."
Kittle has developed into the best tight end in the league under Shanahan's tutelage, so it's no wonder why he enjoys playing for the 49ers wizard ... err, coach.
The 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFL that gives them an advantage on the field nearly every time out. But clearly, they often have a significant advantage on the sidelines as well.
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