So much of the 49ers’ comeback win over the Rams, a team which had never blown a halftime lead under Sean McVay prior to Sunday — let alone a 17-3 lead at the half — begs the question: how? How did this happen?
How were the 49ers not just able to come back, but to come back again, even after Jimmy Garoppolo’s late interception and a punt with less than two minutes on the clock?
Legendary quarterback Steve Young joined the “Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks” show on Wednesday, as he does every week, to provide his thoughts on all things 49ers, including the comeback. Young took issue with McVay’s decidedly conservative decision-making to end the game, as well as his second-half approach.
Young first credited an “elegant,” purposeful first half that he deemed as planned out with clear intent.
But in the second half, he took aim at a lot of deep dropbacks, saying the Rams should have gone to more of a quick-game offense with Stafford being pressured consistently.
“The second half, you can see that the 49ers are gaining momentum, and you’re going to take the deep drops to try to get it to Odell Beckham Jr. and then Stafford is trying to climb in the pocket and just disappearing,” Young said. “Like the pocket just disappeared, right? The Rams have a short game. They have a game to get out, get people running, get people moving, get it in people’s hands in space.
“Get OBJ to have the ball in space, have we not figured that out in two months? Can we not get Cooper Kupp – he’s tremendous within five, seven yards. Like, find spaces, get moving. I was like what are you guys doing, dropping deep, getting jammed up?”
But what confounded Young the most was the end of the game, and that was without mentioning the Rams failing to use their final timeout to try and get into field goal range.
Los Angeles got the ball back with 1:50 on the clock, with the 49ers holding all three timeouts. What followed, Young said, blew his mind, given that a first down would have ended the game.
“You can’t tell me there’s not an All-Pro, first-round draft choice quarterback, a couple of great receivers and you’re just going to run right into the line three times, make them call their timeouts and punt? That’s what the Jaguars would do or whoever!” Young said. “Are you not going to go win this? Go win it! You’re the Rams! You’re going to win the division! Go win it! So it says a lot to me that they didn’t go win it. What is that? It baffles me.”
After Tom Tolbert suggested that Stafford was being hit consistently and looked shaky in the second half, Young responded, saying that was an indication that McVay lacked faith in Stafford.
“You just basically said it for us,” Young said. “We don’t trust him. We don’t believe. You’ve got a guy that’s played 12 years, has seen all the worst of the worst in the NFL and he can’t put the golden shoes on and go do it? Oh yeah, let’s protect him. What are you doing? Brutal, brutal.”
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks weekdays from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.