JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Tails never fails, according to 49ers designated caller of coin flips Fred Warner, but San Francisco has not found much success this season with coach Kyle Shanahan’s favored strategy.
It finally came together Sunday, and provided the 49ers with a big boost in the middle of the game en route to a 34-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Stadium.
“That was our first time this year I felt like we did it right, that we scored on the last play of the second quarter and we started out with it in the third quarter, and then we got that touchdown,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. “That's what we try to do every week.”
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The 49ers’ game-management strategy consists of winning the toss and electing to defer to the second half.
That affords the 49ers an opportunity to have back-to-back possessions — closing out the first half and then receiving the opening kickoff of the second half.
The Jaguars scored their only points of the game on Brandon McManus’ 37-yard field goal with 4 minutes and 20 seconds remaining in the first half to cut the 49ers’ lead to 10-3.
The 49ers took over and went on an 11-play, 61-yard drive that stalled when quarterback Brock Purdy was called for intentional grounding.
San Francisco 49ers
After a 10-second runoff, the 49ers had a third-and-20 play from the Jacksonville 23-yard line. Purdy threw a short pass to Christian McCaffrey to gain 6 yards, then the 49ers called a timeout with 3 seconds remaining.
The Jaguars called a timeout in an attempt to ice kicker Jake Moody, who went ahead and took a practice kick that split the uprights.
Then, Moody got another warmup kick when referee Brad Allen was seemingly unaware FOX had not yet returned from its commercial break. That practice kick also was good.
When it finally was time for Moody’s field-goal attempt to be official, he barely made it over the right upright as the first half expired.
The 49ers wasted little time at the beginning of the second half to stretch their lead to 20-3.
Purdy completed a 9-yard pass to Deebo Samuel to open the third quarter.
“You know what's fun is you come in at halftime, and you sit down as an offense and Kyle brings up like, ‘Hey, these are the eight to 10 plays that I want to get ran this half,’” 49ers tight end George Kittle said, “and that play was the second play of the half, and that was not on those. That was not up there.”
Kittle suggested the second-and-1 situation set up well for a deep shot because the Jaguars always play man coverage in such situations. The 49ers had two tight ends, two backs and one receiver on the field.
“It gives me a one-on-one versus a linebacker, which I'll take any day of the week versus anybody,” Kittle said. “It was a great call by Kyle to get us in the right play, and it was exactly what we wanted it to be. It was exactly how we drew it up.”
Purdy hung in the pocket, pump-faked and delivered a well-thrown pass for Kittle, who beat the coverage of linebacker Devin Lloyd. Kittle made the catch and strolled into the end zone for a 66-yard touchdown.
It all worked according to plan for Shanahan, beginning with Moody’s made field goal on his third kick and ending with what became a 10-point possession.
“We were successful this week,” Shanahan said. “It was very nerve-racking watching them ice our kicker, then the TV network ice our kicker. I didn't know what was going on. That third kick was a little tight, too.
“But it worked, so I’m glad.”