One of the most infuriating things I find when watching an NFL game — or any football game for that matter — is how some teams seem to be so incompetent and unable to manage the game clock, the play clock or know how to properly use their timeouts during a game. Unable to properly manage any of the three can end up being the difference in a team winning or losing a game. Heck, Andy Reid showed Kansas City Chiefs fans in their choke job of a loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Saturday how this bad habit can lead to losing a game.
Therefore as I watched the San Francisco 49ers play against the Green Bay Packers the following day, my and I found ourselves screaming and wanting to strangle somebody out of frustration at the mismanagement of the play clock and wasteful use of timeouts. In both the first and second half, the 49ers found themselves only having one timeout to be used headed into the final five minutes of each half. In the first half, the 49ers used a timeout with 10:21 left in the first quarter in order to not get a delay of game penalty.Yet the use of the timeouts during the second half was what really got my blood and those of many other 49ers fans boiling.
Upon getting the ball to start the half, the 49ers used a timeout even before the first snap of the half! The 49ers used their second timeout with 8:17 left in the third quarter once again in order to prevent a delay of game penalty. Luckily for the 49ers, they were able to use their final timeout on the crucial game-winning drive, but that still does not make up for the mishandling of the play clock and wasting of timeouts.
There are several reasons for why the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh at times have been guilty of messing around with regards to being careless with the play clock and the wasting of timeouts to prevent a delay of game penalty. These reasons range from the how quickly Harbaugh is getting the plays to Colin Kaepernick to doing too much audibling when under center or in a shotgun alignment. Whatever the reason may be, the 49ers must correct this issue as they head to take on the Carolina Panthers in their NFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday.
Against the Panthers, the 49ers offensive coaching staff, in particular Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, will need to get play calls into Colin Kaepernick much quicker and Kaepernick will need to do a better job of managing how often he audibles. The reason that not wasting timeouts will be so crucial is that if you need to challenge a call during the game, you need to have the benefit of having multiple timeouts to be able to take the risk of throwing the challenge flag. Being able to manage and control the end of halves and games is critical, and having multiple timeouts in the latter part of each half when they are most valuable can make a huge difference.