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49ers coach Kyle Shanahan experiences third Super Bowl heartbreak

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (95) chases San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Coach Kyle Shanahan's third trip to the Super Bowl ended up just like his first two — a major disappointment after another blown late lead.

The San Francisco 49ers coach has developed an offense that teams around the league try to mimic and has a vast coaching tree that makes him one of the most influential figures in the game at the young age of 44.

He just doesn't have a Super Bowl title after San Francisco squandered two late leads and lost 25-22 in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

“I don’t care how you lose. When you lose Super Bowls, especially ones when you think you can pull it off, it hurts,” Shanahan said. “When you’re in the NFL, I think every team should hurt except for one at the end. We’ve gotten pretty damn close but haven’t pulled it off. We’re hurting right now.”

This loss follows a blown 10-point lead by Shanahan's 49ers in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl four years ago against Kansas City and an even bigger collapse in the 2016 season when he was offensive coordinator in Atlanta. The Falcons blew a 25-point lead that game and lost 34-28 in overtime to New England.

This latest one might be the toughest to take since the 49ers had the best team in the league for most of the season and seemed poised to deliver Shanahan his first championship.

“When you go against guys like Tom Brady and Pat Mahomes, you never feel comfortable with a lead,” Shanahan said. “Those guys are two of the best to ever play the game.”

But the Niners squandered a 10-point lead in the first half and then couldn't hold onto a pair of three-point leads late, making Shanahan the first head coach ever to blow two double-digit leads in the Super Bowl.

His 49ers also blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the 2021 NFC title game against the Rams, tying him for the most blown double-digit leads in the playoffs for a coach in NFL history.

Mahomes drove for a game-tying field goal in the final 1:53 of regulation and then a game-winning TD pass to Mecole Hardman in overtime after Shanahan opted to take the ball first in the extra session.

The Niners could only manage a field goal by Jake Moody when Chris Jones forced Brock Purdy to throw an incomplete pass on third-and-4 from the 9.

“It looked like there was a protection bust up the middle,” Shanahan said. “We were going to Jauan (Jennings). It looked like Jauan killed him pretty good (on the route). But Chris Jones got loose up the middle. I think there was a mistake. I’m not sure. Obviously he’s a hard guy to block.”

San Francisco's defense then couldn't come up with a stop against Mahomes, allowing him to convert both a fourth and third down with his legs.

Mahomes then sent the Niners home with a loss when he found Hardman wide open after faking across the formation in motion and reversing field.

Mahomes and the Chiefs have now handed Shanahan's 49ers two Super Bowl losses in the past five seasons as the dynastic franchise from the 1980s and '90s has now gone 29 straight seasons without winning a title.

“It's part of sports, it's part of football, it's part of life,” Shanahan said. “I thought we put ourselves out there. I love our team. We’ll recover and we'll be back next year strong.”

Now Shanahan must hope to follow the path of his father, Mike, who lost his first three Super Bowl trips — all as an assistant in Denver — before winning one as coordinator for the 49ers in the 1994 season and back-to-back titles for the Broncos in 1997-98.



Josh Dubow, The Associated Press

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