Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

George Kittle, Nick Bosa, 49ers don’t want to waste chance at Super Bowl return

Jan 27, 2022 at 5:45 PM--

"I will be back here," San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle said in the closing moments of Super Bowl LIV. "I will be back here, and I will be back with a motherf---ing vengeance."

Now, a return to the Super Bowl is within reach, and the 49ers don't want to waste the opportunity. It took a lot to get to this point. In the regular-season finale, they had to mount a comeback and overtime win against the Los Angeles Rams just to make the playoffs. Then they had to win postseason road games against the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, two favored division winners.

The 49ers face the Rams for the third time this season and know what a win means—a chance to avenge that Super Bowl loss two years ago.

"It was really tough to lose that, especially with the team we had," defensive end Nick Bosa told reporters on Thursday, admitting the Super Bowl defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs still motivates the team. "And now, it's becoming extremely real that we can be there again."

49ers kicker Robbie Gould remembers watching his teammate, Kittle, in those closing moments.

"I think the team's really hungry based on what had happened the last time we were in a Super Bowl, and we're back in a situation where we can make that," Gould said on Wednesday. "I'll tell you the thing I remember the most from watching the game and hearing it was George Kittle saying we were going to be back and back with a vengeance, right? So that's something that's always stuck in my mind since we lost to Kansas City."

Kittle isn't constantly thinking about the words every waking second. However, being in the playoffs is a reminder of the thoughts going through his head in those closing moments of the Super Bowl defeat.

"I said those words because I believe in the fact, I believe in myself, and I believe in this football team, that we have an opportunity to get back to the Super Bowl," Kittle said on Thursday. "I believe in our coaching staff. It's a fantastic team, a great organization, a great owner. And I just believe in our ability to win games, and win tough games, win gritty games, to win blowout games, to bounce back from injuries, bounce back from losses, fight through adversity. And that's what this team, what this organization has done.

"But I said those words because I actually believe those words, and we're on the doorstep, and this whole season actually means nothing unless we get this win. That's all we're focused on, is getting this win and giving ourselves an opportunity to go back down to L.A. again and play in another game."

Kyle Shanahan has now lost two Super Bowls—one as an offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons and another as the 49ers head coach. That last one was tough to swallow because he believes his 2019 squad was the best team in football that season.

"Just like anybody, when you have big moments in your life, whether it's really good or really bad, those are things that you think about from time to time," Shanahan admitted on Thursday. "I was pretty committed when I got in this profession, doing everything you can to have an opportunity to someday win a Super Bowl.

"Losing those, it's hard to say it makes it stronger because I feel like that's how I started off. But you know how hard it is to get there. I think that's the biggest thing, how hard it is to get there. And you just want an opportunity to get there again because you feel, if you can get there, you can do it. But I know the road that it takes to get there, and it's not easy, and you're looking every second you can to get that opportunity again."

For Shanahan and the 49ers, nothing changes this week in their preparation. Yes, the stakes are higher, but the Rams are just another opponent, and this team has been playing must-win football since November.

Bosa added, "Nothing really changes through the year in your preparation, but it just becomes more real the more wins you get."

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