BALTIMORE — Midway through the third quarter of the 49ers' 20-17 loss to the Ravens, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo carried the ball up the middle for a first down on third-and-1.
At nearly the same point in the fourth quarter, with a yard to go on fourth down, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan elected to pass.
Garoppolo’s attempt, intended for George Kittle, was batted down by Chris Wormley, and the 49ers turned over the ball on downs. The Ravens took over at their 35-yard line with 6:33 remaining, drove down the field and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
So, why not go for the quarterback sneak again after having success with Garoppolo? Shanahan said it’s just not that easy.
“Just because of what they do in that situation,” Shanahan said. “Same reason we did it earlier on fourth-and-1. They just put too many people in there, too many in there that you can’t block. That’s what we’ve seen all year on them, and that’s what they did there, too."
When Garoppolo took the snap from the shotgun, there were more than a couple of raised eyebrows. The 49ers' offense was averaging 6 yards per carry, but Shanahan still stands by his choice on that final fourth down.
The pass play that the 49ers ran wasn’t Shanahan’s original choice. He adjusted the call during the timeout, but even if he had it to do over again, he still would have called a pass.
“I didn’t mind the decision at all not running, but I wished I called a better pass play,” Shanahan said. “We changed it. We didn’t like the look we had out there.”
Shanahan also said there was no option for Robbie Gould to attempt a field goal from that distance, mostly because of the conditions. At that point in the game, Gould would have been kicking into the wind and rain. The call was going to be either a pass or a punt.
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“Different stuff they do in those situations,” Shanahan said. “Third-and-1 wasn’t the same looks that they had. We saw it on the original fourth-and-1. They just committed everyone in there, and it’s extremely hard. We also thought it was a full yard, so it’s not always great to sneak it.
“But definitely when they have people in there and safeties and they’re gapping it out. They best thing was for us to throw, but definitely could have come up with a better pass play.”