Kyle Shanahan explains 49ers' fourth-down gaffe on final drive vs. Cowboys

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Shanahan explains fourth-down gaffe on final drive vs. Cowboys originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

ARLINGTON, Texas — Before the 49ers walked out of AT&T Stadium with a 23-17 win, they almost didn’t.

Late in the fourth quarter with less than a minute left on the clock, Kyle Shanahan was faced with a 4th-and-1 situation. With Jimmy Garoppolo’s near-perfect success rate at quarterback sneaks, that ended up being the play call.

Just before the ball was snapped, left tackle Trent Williams flipped from the left side of the offensive line to the right and the ball was quickly snapped. Instead of converting and gaining the ability to run out the clock for a win, the veteran tackle was called for a false start and the Cowboys gained another chance with the ball.

“We just shifted to an unbalanced,” Shanahan said after the game. “It was on the silent count and it was quarterback sneak all the way, but Jimmy got really excited because of the look. Didn’t let Trent get set. He’s got to let him get set.”

“It ended up not being a problem though, would have been a struggle to answer that one if it was.”

With five yards to go instead of one, the 49ers elected to punt and the Cowboys' offense returned to the field for a final drive with 32 seconds left on the clock and 80 yards to go.

The 49ers' defense, knowing that the Cowboys needed a touchdown and the extra point to win, played soft coverage. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and his offense were able to move the ball 56 yards down the field but the 49ers successfully kept them out of the end zone.

When told that Shanahan said that Garoppolo's excitement got the better of him, Garoppolo took a light-hearted approach.

“Kyle said that?” Garoppolo said with a laugh. “Yeah, I mean that’s pretty much what happened.”

When asked if he had another explanation, the quarterback laughed again and succinctly replied, “No.”

After being called for the infraction, Williams was seen on the broadcast asking the referee for an explanation, clearly not agreeing with the call. The All-Pro left tackle was disappointed that they were unable to convert, but not worried about the outcome of the game.

“I wasn’t too stressed,” Williams said. “I knew that was a long way to go with no timeouts and under a minute to go. I wasn’t too worried. As an offense in that position, it’s pretty hard to get into the end zone because everyone knows that’s where you want to go.”

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After beating the Cowboys on the road, the 49ers will travel to Green Bay for a matchup with the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round.