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Why 49ers gained confidence to run flea-flicker in win over Cowboys

Why 49ers gained confidence to run flea-flicker in win over Cowboys originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers showed a little razzle-dazzle in their 42-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football,” using a play which interestingly was run by the Detroit Lions earlier in the day.

On the 49ers’ second drive of the second quarter, Brock Purdy handed off the ball to Christian McCaffrey, who pitched it back to Deebo Samuel on a reverse. Samuel then pitched it back to Purdy who launched the ball to George Kittle down the right side of the field for a 38-yard touchdown.

“You know what is hilarious, is I was sitting on my couch and I watched that live,” Kittle said about the Lions running the same play. “We ran that play against Philly [in the NFC Championship Game]. It did not work. [McCaffrey] didn’t throw it to me.

“I saw it today and told my [tight ends coach Brian Fleury], and he said, ‘Don’t worry, we will run it better.’ And we did, from like 10 yards further out.”

What the Lions had done earlier in the day was literally the same play. Quarterback Jared Goff handed off the ball to running back David Montgomery who pitched it back to wide receiver Kalia Raymond who tossed it back to Goff. The quarterback then threw the ball down 31 yards down the right side of the field to Sam LaPorta for the score.

After the 49ers’ primetime win, coach Kyle Shanahan explained that they have had the play installed for some time but didn’t actually run it until the 2022 NFC title game. At that point in the game, Purdy already had suffered an injury to his throwing arm which is why McCaffrey was the “quarterback” on the play.

“I saw [the Lions play] before the game,” Shanahan said. “[The call] was based off of what we were going against, and we planned on calling it, but definitely seeing it work for someone else gives you more confidence.”

Shanahan shared the play is called “Toss-18-flea flicker,” and if the opportunity comes up again, Kittle would love it.

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