In the end, it was a familiar sight with Patrick Mahomes holding the trophy and MVP award. And while Mahomes did lead the final touchdown drive to win the game with three seconds left in the first OT, several San Fran players are not giving the Chiefs the credit but blaming themselves.
While many pundits now point to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan giving up three separate 10-point leads in the Super Bowl as a head coach or coordinator, his players were quick to say they had control on Sunday night in Allegiant Stadium, and it was the Niners who just failed to execute when it mattered most.
49ers Didn’t Choke in LV, But They Did Let a Super Bowl Slip Through Their Fingers
Christian McCaffrey, who had a fumble on the 49ers’ opening drive, was able to bounce back from his early miscue.
“Mistakes like that — costly. You can’t do it.”
But that was not nearly the end of the San Francisco slip-ups, and McCaffrey did not hold back when asked how it was Kansas City that left victorious.
“When you look at the self-inflicted wounds that we had, we just beat ourselves.”
Christian McCaffrey says the #49ers beat themselves.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) February 12, 2024
The 49ers turned the ball over a second time as Darrell Luter Jr. tried to field a kick after it bounced off a teammate who had missed the poison call. They also tacked on a blocked extra point by Jake Moody, which allowed the Chiefs to remain within striking distance with a field goal.
While San Francisco gave it away twice, the ball just seemed to continually bounce Kansas City’s way. The Chiefs fumbled a season-high five times in the game, but only one bounced to the 49ers. KC was able to recover the other four … Lady Luck indeed.
Captain Fred Warner went so far as to say that there wasn’t anything to “be sad about” as the 49ers were in a position to win despite those balls not bouncing their way. “We had every opportunity to win that game — we didn’t take advantage (them). We still had an opportunity at the end there,” said Warner.
The opportunity was there, but the last to play Mecole Hardman, who rejoined the Chiefs mid-year after signing with the Jets in the offseason, got free on a missed assignment that ended any further chances for the Niners.
The 49ers’ defense actually controlled the entire first quarter and held Mahomes and the Chiefs to just one regulation touchdown. While KC was able to answer with field goals to tie the game twice in the fourth quarter, including a kick with just three seconds left, Shanahan still had enough confidence in his defensive unit to put the offense out first and put the pressure on his defense.
“We were fully confident in being able to get a stop,” remarked Warner.
Confidence, unfortunately, only gets you so far as Mahomes, Travis Kielce, and the Chiefs went on to put the official stamp on the NFL’s latest dynasty.
For the 49ers, Nick Bosa even pointed out that this entire group “would not stay together,” and he was hopeful to “spend some time together in a quiet room” tonight before the offseason brings about more change by the Bay.
San Francisco is primed for more success in the future with a young QB in Brock Purdy, who did not shy away from the game’s biggest stage, a plethora of weapons, and a strong defense.
The only question that remains is will the 49ers and Shanahan learn from their self-inflicted mistakes before the championship window closes on this current iteration of the Niners.
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