49ers come up short on 20-play, historically long drive

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49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan uses time of possession as one of his offensive weapons, which makes sense when you have a great run game and a quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo who keeps bumping his head on his own ceiling. Last Monday night, in a 31-10 thrashing of the Rams, the 49ers had an opening 18-play, 88-yard drive that took 11:03 off the clock, and ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to tight end George Kittle.

The long drive worked against the Rams, but not so much against the Jaguars on Sunday. The 49ers took the ball first against Jacksonville, and matriculated the ball down the field on a 20-play, 87-yard drive that took 13:05 off the clock and ended with a Robbie Gould 20-yard field goal.

Why did Shanahan refuse to go for it on fourth down? Probably because of what happened on second down, two plays before, from the Jacksonville two-yard line. Garoppolo had running back Jeff Wilson wiiiiiiiide open in the end zone, and made an errant throw.

It didn’t look any better with the dots.

Was this the longest drive in NFL history by time of possession? No, but it was close. On Thanksgiving Day, 1997, the Tennessee Oilers had a 21-play, 90-yard drive against the Dallas Cowboys that ended in a 19-yard Al Del Greco field goal after a ton of rushing attempts and a handful of passes (it was the most Jeff Fisher drive ever) had the Oilers stumped at the Dallas one-yard line.

The good folks at Quirky Research had the receipts.

Jacksonville’s defense proved more vulnerable on subsequent drives, but Garoppolo still struggled with reads that weren’t wide open. Second verse, same as the first…