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Jimmy Garoppolo, Marquise Goodwin Explain Why Kyle Shanahan is a 'Mastermind'

Posted Dec 28, 2017

The 49ers top playmakers explain what makes Kyle Shanahan so special as a playcaller.

Mike Silver garnered the quote of the week after the San Francisco 49ers topped the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday.

"They exposed us,” one veteran Jaguars defender told Silver postgame. “We weren't ready for it."

“They” refers to Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense. “It” was the specific play calls and looks that the 49ers showed the Jaguars en route to 44 points against the league’s top defense.

Very few predicted that San Francisco would upset Jacksonville in Week 16. Nobody forecasted that the 49ers would light up the scoreboard the way they did.

“Everything went well, and there was a good flow in the game so it helped out everybody,” Shanahan said.

San Francisco came out of the gates hot, scoring an opening drive touchdown for the first time all season. The offense never let up from there. 

The 49ers had receivers running open throughout the game – most notably on a 44-yard pass to Kyle Juszczyk. When Jacksonville’s coverage held up, Garoppolo found ways to fit throws into small windows – like an 8-yard touchdown pass to George Kittle or his sidearm dart to Trent Taylor for a 5-yard score.

San Francisco racked up 369 yards of total offense, converted 10-of-15 third downs and accumulated 26 first downs. The icing on the cake was Matt Breida’s 30-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach for good late in the fourth quarter. On the play, Marquise Goodwin ran a dummy jet sweep from left to right. Jacksonville’s entire defense shifted towards Goodwin, only for Garoppolo to pull the ball back and toss it to his left to Breida. The rookie ran untouched up the left sideline for his third score of the season.

It was clear that Shanahan was in a rhythm throughout the contest, and that Garoppolo was executing the game plan to perfection.

“I think that comes from the week prior to it honestly,” Garoppolo said. “All week last week we had a good rhythm of Kyle calling it, there were really no hiccups in the huddle or anything. There was a smooth transition day in and day out. I think it carried over to Sunday. That’s what makes these games a lot easier is when you have a good week of practice leading up to it.” 

Goodwin co-signed that theory, but added that Shanahan’s ability as a playcaller has been consistent all season. All that has changed during the 49ers current four-game winning streak is the on-field execution.

“When Coach Shanahan calls a play, it’s usually the right play call, it’s just about us executing it,” Goodwin said. “He does a great job of planning and getting us ready for the game. What it boils down to is us making the plays.”

So how would the 49ers top offensive playmakers describe Shanahan as a playcaller?

“(He’s) awesome,” Garoppolo said. “Makes my job a lot easier.”

And Goodwin: “Creative. He knows how to get guys in position to win and be successful. That’s why his offense has been so productive in the past few years. He’s a mastermind when it comes to these things.

“When you’ve got a playcaller like Kyle, there’s no telling what will happen play-to-play.”

It sounds like the Jaguars would agree.

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