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Super Bowl LVIII: 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, Brock Purdy discuss offensive shortcomings in third quarter, overtime

Feb 11, 2024 at 9:50 PM--

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There will be no shortage of moments the San Francisco 49ers will look back on when trying to figure out what went wrong in their 25-22 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII, but two in particular will be their slow start offensively to the third quarter and the failure to score a touchdown during their lone offensive possession in overtime.

The 49ers put up 189 total yards while building a 10-3 first half against the Chiefs, but their offense disappeared early in the third quarter when they were held to three consecutive three-and-outs to start the second half. There was only one running play in those three-and-outs, leading some to wonder what caused the 49ers to move away from the run in that segment of the game.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about those possessions after the game and responded by suggesting he would have chosen to run the ball more had the offense been able to get first downs.

"I didn't get away from the run game," Shanahan said. "You go three-and-out and you don't get drives. So, didn't get away from it, we just didn't stay on the field."

Quarterback Brock Purdy and the 49ers' offense turned things around late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter by going on a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jauan Jennings to take a 16-13 lead. But Purdy was at a loss to explain what happened before that drive other than to say the offense got themselves into trouble by not executing better on first and second down.

"I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm not going to lie," Purdy told reporters after the game. "I think first and second down, we just got to be better. You get into these third-and-longs and it's tough to convert in those kind of situations, so just got to be better I think on first and second down. There was just a couple of plays where I feel like defense got the stops like they needed to and then our first couple plays were just either negative or we're not moving the ball. So it's as simple as that."

The game wound up being tied at 19 when the clock expired in regulation, then the 49ers started the overtime session with a lengthy drive that looked like it might end in a touchdown. But they fell short inside the 10-yard line, in particular on a 3rd-and-4 play where Purdy threw the ball away after being pressured by defensive tackle Chris Jones.

The play was designed to go to Jennings, but Shanahan thinks there might have been an error when it came to accounting for Jones on the play.

"On the third down, it looked like there was a protection bust up the middle," Shanahan said. "We were going to Jauan. I know it looked like Jauan killed him one pretty good, but Chris Jones got loose in the middle. I think there was a mistake. Not sure. But also he's a hard guy to block."

Purdy had a difficult time accepting that he couldn't come away with a touchdown on the play, given the fact that it gave Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to execute a game-winning drive.

"They brought zero and I was trying to get the ball to JJ," Purdy said. "That's what was hurting me, just knowing that, yeah, we're going to execute the field goal, trusting Jake (kicker Jake Moody) and all the guys on special teams, but obviously their offense is really good, Mahomes is really good and you just don't want to give an opportunity to go down and win the game off a touchdown. When I wasn't able to connect with him, it hurt."

The 49ers successfully converted on a 4th-and-3 late in the aforementioned scoring drive in the fourth quarter, but there was no consideration on their end to go for it on fourth down in overtime, even with Mahomes on the other sideline.

"In that moment in overtime, it was pretty quick," Purdy said. "Just, 'All right, we came down here and let's get points, kick a field goal, and then trust our defense to do what they can do.' So that's where our mindset was at. I think earlier in the game, it was like, 'All right, we needed to score in that moment, and so we were aggressive with it and went for it.'"

Chiefs safety Justin Reid said after the game that he felt holding the 49ers out of the end zone in overtime would result in a win given the fact the offense came close to scoring a touchdown on the game-tying drive at the end of regulation.

"I was like, 'It's over, man.' We're going to get the ball back to 15, especially the way they finished the game? (If) we had ten more seconds on the clock, that game would have been over then and there."

The loss was a devastating one for the 49ers, but Shanahan said the team will bounce back and be ready to make another run next season.

"We're hurting right now," Shanahan said. "But doesn't take away from how proud of our guys I am. I'm real proud of them today, too. That's part of sports. It's part of football. It's part of life. But, glad we put ourselves out there and I love our team and we'll recover and we'll be back next year strong."
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