SANTA CLARA -- 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would have been met with widespread disapproval.
The home fans would have booed.
Heck, even the Seattle fans in attendance would have voiced their displeasure at sitting through 3 hours, 49 minutes of football at Levi's Stadium and not seeing anything decided.
Shanahan would have been widely mocked for not having confidence in his offense.
But the 49ers would be in a lot better shape today if they had taken the tie on Monday night, instead of giving Russell Wilson one more chance with plenty of time to rip out their hearts.
When the 49ers took possession at their own 20-yard line with 1:50 remaining in overtime, Shanahan should have had two objectives. One, win the game. And, two, make sure the Seahawks do not have enough time to win the game.
The 49ers had one timeout remaining. Seattle coach Pete Carroll had no way of stopping the clock after already using both of his timeouts in overtime.
Shanahan clearly designed a couple of pass plays on first and second downs that he thought should have been easy completions.
However, nothing came easy for the 49ers’ passing game on Monday night with their two best pass-catchers, George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders, out with injuries, two rusty offensive tackles, some butter-fingered receivers and a quarterback who was a tick off the mark.
The 49ers could have run a draw play on first down -- just try to get some easy yards. And with Seattle’s defense spread out, there’s always a chance that Raheem Mostert can tear off a big gain with his speed.
Regardless of how many yards Mostert picked up on first down, Jimmy Garoppolo then could have thrown on second down. If third down were manageable, Shanahan could have run or passed. If it were third-and-long, then probably the best decision with the 49ers’ alarming lack of playmakers would have been to run the ball again ... and try to ignore the jeers.
Instead, the 49ers threw three passes -- each incomplete -- and gave the ball right back to Wilson.
Garoppolo’s first pass, a short underneath throw intended for Kendrick Bourne, was tipped at the line of scrimmage and nearly intercepted. Garoppolo led Dante Pettis too much on second down, and the pass glanced off Pettis’ right hand. On third down, Garoppolo did not lead Deebo Samuel far enough down the field, and Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin broke it up at the Seattle 45.
Those three plays ate up just 14 seconds. When Mitch Wishnowsky punted the ball back to Seattle, only 25 seconds had run off the clock and Seattle took over at their own 36.
Seven plays later, including an 18-yard scramble by Wilson, Seattle moved the ball 40 yards into 49ers territory, and kicker Jason Myers made a 42-yard field goal to pull the Seahawks within striking range in the division.
Shanahan’s explanation was that he felt he called two high-percentage pass plays on first and second downs that would have allowed the 49ers the flexibility to go for the win or run out the clock to leave Seattle little time to respond.
“The first down, you’re expecting to get a completion,” Shanahan said. “They got a tipped ball. The second one, we’ve got to be able to throw and catch there between Dante and Jimmy. And then you get stuck in third and 10 like that, so definitely didn’t want to run it right there on third-and-10. (We) wanted to go for the first down.
"Definitely wish we took more time of the clock, but was counting on us catching one of those balls.”
Of course, nobody would have been satisfied with a tie.
But the fact is that the 49ers, who entered Monday’s game with a two-game lead in the loss column over the Seahawks in the NFC West, would still have that same advantage in the standings.