49ers

Why 49ers didn't use more time on final TD drive vs. Packers

49ers
Juszczyk touchdown

SANTA CLARA — It was like the movie ending you’ve seen over hundred times, and just can’t seem to escape.

The 49ers got the ball back, with 2:39 left on the clock, down by only six points to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense marched down the field with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. 

Kyle Juszczyk’s incredible diving effort to reach the end zone after his catch of a Garoppolo pass got the nearly 70,000 fans at Levi’s Stadium on their feet. Coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers took their first lead of the game.

The 49ers had a 28-27 lead with 37 seconds left on the clock and the home crowd was elated, until they remembered that Aaron Rodgers was set to take the field. 

Like he has done countless times in his NFL career, Rodgers led the Packers far enough down the field to give kicker Mason Crosby a good shot at a game-winning 51-yard field goal. As time expired, the football went through the uprights, sending the 49ers to a 30-28 loss and dashing their hopes of a 3-0 start. 

“You always worry with Aaron on the other side,” Shanahan said after the game. “That’s why we didn’t use any timeouts. We wanted to take it down. Hell of an effort by Juszczyk to get it in. I think [Garoppolo] hit the last guy in the progression and it was a hell of an effort after the catch.” 

 

After the game, Juszczyk shared that there was a conscious decision to slow the game down as opposed to a normal two-minute drill. Once the 49ers passed midfield and still had two minutes left on the clock, they brought down the tempo. 

They clearly did not bleed the clock enough. With 43 seconds left on the game clock and 12 seconds still on the play clock, Alex Mack hiked the ball to Garoppolo. By the time Juszczyk crossed the goal line, only six seconds had expired.

"I didn’t really have a lot of time to think about it,” Juszczyk said. “The entire team was swarming me. I didn’t even know how much time was left on the clock to be totally honest with you. It wasn’t really something that was on my mind during the play. We were down six so we needed a touchdown so I was trying to score.” 

While Garoppolo explained that he is always conscious of the play and game clocks, and getting both as low as possible, there was a reason he didn’t let the play clock dwindle before calling for the snap.

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“We were kind of in a good rhythm,” Garoppolo said. “That’s when you tow the line of you have the defense on their heels, it’s really hard to score down there in the red zone as it is, do you want to let them catch their breath? 

"When a guy catches it and makes a play like that you’re not going to be upset at him for scoring. It’s tough.” 

Hindsight is 20/20, and this is one situation that Shanahan and Co. would definitely like to have back.