Kyle Shanahan's end-of-half strategy annoys fans, but helps 49ers win

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Shanahan explains logic behind clock management to end first half originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SANTA CLARA — Coach Kyle Shanahan could hear the grumbling among the 49ers’ fan base at Levi’s Stadium.

And he said if he were a fan, he would have been upset, too.

Regrets? Not a chance.

The 49ers let a significant amount of time run off the clock before a third-down play with less than a minute remaining. After the 49ers converted the third down, they still managed to get into range for Robbie Gould’s 50-yard field goal that gave San Francisco a 9-6 lead as time expired in the second quarter.

Shanahan said he knew the fans were frustrated by his game management.

“Not just because I can hear,” Shanahan said, “but because if I’m a fan, I’d be very annoyed, too.

“But I’m pretty confident in what we did there. That’s one of the reasons when you play a good team like that and you hold them to 12 points.”

The end-of-half sequence helped the 49ers advance to the NFC Championship Game with a 19-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on Sunday. San Francisco moves on to face the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday.

Shanahan said the decision to let the clock run down was a calculated decision because, if the 49ers had failed on third down, the Cowboys could have gotten the ball back with 45 seconds remaining and two timeouts.

The last thing Shanahan wanted was to allow the Cowboys an opportunity to score points at the end of the half, especially when they were getting the ball to open the second half.

The 49ers took over at their own 28-yard line with 1:15 remaining in the first half after Fred Warner’s interception. Deebo Samuel gained eight yards on a first-down running play. Twenty seconds ran off the clock, and Christian McCaffrey gained one yard.

San Francisco let the clock run down and called a timeout with 24 seconds remaining. Then, quarterback Brock Purdy hit Samuel for 10 yards for a first down.

“Once you get the first down, yeah, then I wished we’d moved faster,” Shanahan said. “But you don’t know if you’re going to get that first down or not. So you have to play it the smart way. I thought we did that.”

Purdy found wide receiver Jauan Jennings for a 21-yard gain that put the 49ers in field-goal range with 12 seconds left in the second quarter.

“He always goes over situational football throughout the week,” Purdy said of Shanahan.

Shanahan keeps Purdy informed of his headset with the sideline-to-quarterback radio communication, which cuts off with 15 seconds left on the play clock.

Said Purdy, “Even before the 15 seconds, he’ll say some stuff in the headsets, ‘Hey, this is the situation, if it’s not here, throw it away.’”

Purdy cut it a little too close when he nearly waited too long to throw the ball away on a snap that took place with seven seconds remaining.

“I looked left, and our read was covered,” Purdy said. “I thought I had a little more time, in terms of looking back right to Deebo. Obviously, it was a pretty close call. I got to be better at throwing the ball away.”

RELATED: NFL Twitter roasts Cowboys for final play call vs. 49ers

Shanahan had some words for Purdy when he came to the sideline with one second remaining in the half.

“He got on me,” Purdy said, “and rightfully so.”