Three Super Bowl collapses by 10+ points. Can this man actually win when it matters?
Kyle Shanahan is a regular-season genius. Kyle Shanahan is transforming the (regular-season) NFL. Kyle Shanahan is a regular-season winner. After the 49ers’ loss in Super Bowl LVIII, it’s reasonable to include those parentheses on his resume.
Sunday marked Shanahan’s sixth postseason game loss as a coordinator or head coach, including his third Super Bowl. He has done it twice as 49ers coach, and was the offensive coordinator during the Falcons’ notorious 28-3 loss to the Patriots. Whether you like it or not, this is a trend that has emerged in the most important games of his career, and it is not a coincidence.
Shanahan’s failures share the same DNA.
The third quarter was an excellent example of this. The score is 10–3. This is clearly a defensive game, and you have the advantage on the scoreboard against the Chiefs. This is exactly where you hoped the game would be. If someone came to you three days ago and told you this scenario, you’d be thrilled. You have a better run game and can grind the time more efficiently. Points for field position are quite valuable.
Let’s look at the 49ers’ playcalling decisions throughout the next three drives.
This decision made absolutely no sense. It felt more like someone playing Madden and attempting to get their favorite player to win the Super Bowl MVP award than true Super Bowl playcalling. Shanahan repeatedly tried to fit a square peg into a round hole and wondered why it didn’t work. It was almost as if the coach desperately wanted to prove to Brock Purdy that he was an outstanding quarterback capable of winning with his arm — and he was going to try.
We do not need to dispute Purdy’s talent. At this point, it is tiresome and monotonous. We can confidently state that this season, a lot of the 49ers’ offensive passing
This season, the 49ers rushed 499 times and passed 491. They realized that everything revolved around establishing the run and dominating the ground game. In the Super Bowl, Purdy passed 38 times while McCaffrey only ran 22 times.
There’s an alternate reality in which the 49ers ran the ball with McCaffrey on those crucial third down drives. Even if they didn’t result in scores, eating clock would have had a significant impact on how the game played out. If the 49ers manage only one first down on each of those drives, extend out a running clock to devour 10 minutes of total time, rather than less than 4:00—now we have a situation in which the San Francisco
One of the issues going up to the Super Bowl was if this would be the moment Andy Reid decided to retire, but perhaps that speculation is still premature. Travis Kelce wants to continue playing. However, the Chiefs’ tale is far greater than those two players.
We recently watched an organization that was able to completely reverse its direction and restructure itself in a year. The Chiefs knew that even if they won the Super Bowl in 2023, they would be vulnerable. This squad struggled defensively, and on offense, they struggled to locate impact players inside the market and cap.
The fact that we just witnessed Kansas City hang with the 49ers on defense and
I will be honest: I had no expectations for the Super Bowl halftime performance. It’s not that I despise Usher or his music; rather, I expected it to be mediocre at best. We got sheer excellence throughout the entire performance.