Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan shared this important lesson from his Super Bowl loss with his 49ers players

Jan 30, 2020 at 12:05 PM--

One more game. One more win.

That's what the San Francisco 49ers are focused on this week. The team is perfecting its game plan, staying focused on the task at hand, and is ready to do whatever it takes to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy after 60 minutes of football on Sunday.

"It's definitely a big opportunity for all of us," defensive end Arik Armstead said on Wednesday. "Legends are only made if you win the game. Nobody remembers the loser, so that's the main goal, is to not become individually legendary, but for all of us to become legendary by becoming Super Bowl champions and being remembered forever."

The 49ers are driven.

Joe Staley knows what it's like to lose a Super Bowl. Richard Sherman knows what it's like to lose a Super Bowl. Emmanuel Sanders knows what it's like to lose a Super Bowl.

Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco's 40-year-old brilliant head coach, also knows what it is like to come up short in the biggest game of the year. He did so against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI after leading 28-3.

At least Shanahan is in the history books. The 25-point comeback by the Patriots is the largest in Super Bowl history.

Shanahan was the offensive coordinator then, calling the shots for players like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Now, his chess pieces include names like Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle, and the 49ers coach will try to redeem himself from that collapse.

"Redeem" probably isn't the right word.

Shanahan isn't haunted by that game. It remains a part of him, and he learned valuable lessons from it. For example, never assume you have built up enough of a lead against an opponent. That was evident from San Francisco's game against the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Shanahan's 49ers seemed to have the game in hand and built up a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.

"I freaked out at (defensive coordinator Robert) Saleh when he tried to take the starters out [against Minnesota] when we were up like three scores with two minutes to go," Shanahan shared this week. "I freaked out. Then I did the math, and I thought it was alright. You get some of those scars from that, so guys mess with me with that."

Another lesson learned by Shanahan? No matter what happens, you will be alright.

The Super Bowl loss immediately devastated Shanahan, but he has since moved on. If he can overcome that, he can overcome anything. That's why he never hesitates to answer questions about Super Bowl LI.

NFL Network's Kurt Warner asked Shanahan this week what he had shared with his players about that loss three years ago. What did the coach, heading into the biggest game of his 49ers career, want his team to learn from that collapse?

"I use myself as an example for a team," Shanahan responded. "I go, 'Guys, think of the worst stuff that can happen. Whether it's right or wrong, what happens if someone blames you for losing?' So I try to put everyone through that.

"I'm like, 'Guys, that could give a lot of people anxiety and stuff. Guys, don't worry. I've been there, and guess what? I was still alive the next day, and my life did move on, and things are still alright. But whether you win or lose, the key is that you don't hesitate on anything, so no matter what, the rest of your life, you can look in the mirror, and you don't have regrets."

No matter what happens on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, Shanahan hopes his players put everything out on the field, and become stronger for it.

No regrets.

That is Shanahan's message to his players heading into Super Bowl LIV. That is the lesson he passes on from that game three years ago.

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