Shanahan, who served as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator in that game, recently appeared “The Rich Eisen Show” when he admitted to thinking about that game “a lot.” When he was asked if there was one play in particular he regretted the most, Shanahan answered honestly.
“There’s no doubt,” Shanahan said. “The second-and-10 that we got sacked on. I wish I had dialed something up differently.”
The play he’s talking about occurred with roughly four minutes remaining in the game. At that point, the Falcons still held an eight-point lead with the ball. Most importantly, they were already in field-goal range at the 23-yard line. All the Falcons had to do was run some clock and kick a field goal to take a two-score advantage. If they had done that, they likely would’ve won the Super Bowl.
Instead, Shanahan called for a pass and Matt Ryan took an unforgivable sack, which pushed them to the edge of field goal range.
On the next play, the Falcons were called for holding, which pushed them completely out of range. Ryan fired incomplete on third down, which led to a punt, which led to the Patriots driving down the field for the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion. The Patriots won the game on the first possession of overtime.
So, before we move on, let’s not forget that Ryan also deserves blame for taking the sack. Shanahan could’ve negated the risk by simply running the ball, but he also trusted his quarterback to make a smart play. Ryan didn’t do that, of course.
“I’m doing alright,” Shanahan also said. “I can handle it.”
Sure, the 49ers are probably a year or two (or three or four) away from competing due to the state of their roster (bad), but they are coming off a great first offseason. The 49ers, whose front office is led by first-time GM John Lynch, swindled the Bears into giving up way too much for the No. 2 pick in the draft, and then they still managed to draft two top defensive talents in Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster.
Shanahan doesn’t have a quarterback like Ryan to work with yet, but they could get one in next year’s loaded draft. Or they could find a way to sign Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was connected to the team this offseason.
The point being, life for Shanahan isn’t too bad. One doomed play call can’t change that.