The 49ers tested Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' ability in clutch moments, and it came back to bite them in their painful loss in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday.
San Francisco's decision to receive the ball after winning the overtime coin toss confounded the general NFL world while also galvanizing some Chiefs players.
“Yes, I think as a defensive player it's a little disrespectful,” Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton told reporters after Kansas City's 25-22 Super Bowl win. “But at the same time, you understand their defense was there the whole game.” Last”. A minute and a half. So, the legs are a little tired. Yes, that's part of it.”
While the choice to take the ball on second down seemed like the obvious right choice to most people watching given the NFL's new overtime playoff rules, which allow both teams a fair chance with the ball, San Francisco bucked the general consensus.
Kyle Shanahan told reporters after the loss that he did not regret his decision, noting that they wanted the “third” ball if the two teams matched and scored.
San Francisco's logic was mind-boggling for Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones.
“They're crazy, they're crazy,” Jones said after the game. “Because the overtime rules changed where both teams get the ball no matter who scores. So, originally, you want to let the other team get the ball, prevent them from holding the three, so you know what you got. Or if you stop for them, they kick it, and then all What you have to do is kick three.
“…I think we talked about it when we went to a TV break and they were at 25 minutes. No matter what we did, we couldn't let them score. If we could keep them to three, we would win this game, and we were able to do that.”
The 49ers' opening drive of overtime led to a Jake Moody field goal to give them a 22-19 lead. But Mahomes only shined under pressure, leading a game-winning 75-yard touchdown drive in response to secure back-to-back championships for Kansas City.
Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman shared what was going through their heads when the 49ers elected to receive the ball to open the extra quarter.
“I thought the right thing to do was to hold off, but when they got the ball, we knew what we had to do as an offense,” Hardman said. “It's kind of those things. They kicked the field goal, and we looked at each other and thought about going for the score. It's time to score goals, and let's win this game.
“That's what our thinking was all the way through, and we came out of it.”
On top of the players commenting on San Francisco's decision, there are several players The sports analysts wasted no time Shanahan and the 49ers were questioned the next morning.
“Honestly, I like the ball second because I want to know what I need,” ESPN's Shannon Sharp said Monday on First Take. “And guess what? I got an extra foul because I would have been able to score it on fourth down if I didn't get it on third down. And that was the difference. Kyle Shanahan, he made the field goal, but if he knew he needed a touchdown, and he's going for it. It's not like the old rules. It's the postseason. Everyone will get the ball. So registering first doesn't matter.
“I was going to hold off because I want to know what Patrick Mahomes did so I could have a chance to either match or exceed what he did.”
He was sitting next to Stephen A. Sharp. ESPN's Smith, who was more critical of his choice of words, referred to San Francisco's decision and its players' lack of knowledge of the new rules as a “distortion of the entire organization,” “embarrassing” and “a dereliction of duty.”
But Shanahan said he has no regrets about making the decision to lose, and it may take some time, but the 49ers are hoping to shake off this painful loss and get back to their quest for a Six in 2024.
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