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Kyle Shanahan, 49ers discuss the emotions of gut-wrenching Super Bowl defeat

Feb 11, 2024 at 9:54 PM--

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As confetti cascaded down upon them in the aftermath of Super Bowl 58's overtime loss, some San Francisco 49ers players sat in stunned disbelief. Despite their confidence entering the game, they now found themselves departing the field, their dreams of victory dashed after coming so close.

San Francisco had known they needed to play a flawless game to secure the win, yet critical errors such as Christian McCaffrey's early fumble, Jake Moody's missed extra point, and costly penalties marred their efforts. The offense's failure to capitalize on opportunities, culminating in settling for a field goal instead of a touchdown in overtime, only added to the frustration.

"It was two real good teams," head coach Kyle Shanahan said in the wake of the heartbreaking defeat. "It went back and forth throughout the whole game, and both teams played their asses off, and in the end, they got it done."

For Shanahan, this marked his third Super Bowl defeat and his second as a head coach. While recognized across the league for his often brilliant play-calling, he has faced criticism for his inability to clinch victory in crucial moments.

"Obviously, it sucks, man," quarterback Brock Purdy said. "You want to win it for that kind of guy, and he's a great coach. Everybody wants to go to war with that guy, the way he handles himself and carries himself. We all want to win for him.

"And obviously, the older guys, the vets, [T] Trent Williams, [DT] Arik Armstead, all the guys that have been through it, you want to win for them. But it starts with the coach. That's who I hurt for, and I hurt for all the other guys, our whole team.

"What we've been through the last year hasn't been easy. And for it to go like that, where it's close at the end, it's tough, and I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it."

Running back Christian McCaffrey said it's tough to look in the eyes of a veteran teammate like Trent Williams, who has played in the NFL since 2010 without a Super Bowl appearance until now, and know that you didn't get the job done.

As expected, the 49ers locker room was somber after the game. Linebacker Fred Warner sat there staring at his locker for several minutes without saying a word. It's going to take time for this wound to heal.

When a reporter asked how much the loss hurts, wide receiver Jauan Jennings responded, "Anybody got a nail he can step on? Probably about that much."

Despite the fresh wounds, Shanahan remained steadfast in his pride for this 49ers team, saying, "We all hurt. Everyone knows how it feels and don't have a lot of words for it, but obviously we're hurting. Our team's hurting, but that's how it goes when you put yourself out there. I'm real proud of our guys. No regrets with our team. I thought our guys played so hard today. Not everything was perfect, by no means, but if I'm going to lose with a group of guys, I'll do it with those guys anytime."

This was Shanahan's best chance yet to win a Super Bowl. Every year brings a new team with new faces. This was likely the best roster he's ever coached, with playmakers everywhere you look. Once again, the talented group fell short of its ultimate goal.

"We've gotten pretty damn close, but we haven't pulled it off," Shanahan conceded. "And we're hurting right now, but [that] 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."

While Shanahan felt the sting of yet another Super Bowl defeat, his primary concern was for his players.

"I hurt the most for the players," Shanahan said. "I can't tell you guys how long it takes to get here and just how long an NFL season is, going through January and all the way into February. So our guys, I hurt for them the most."

Tight end George Kittle commented, "You train all season, you train all offseason, every day, you put in the work. You go to OTAs, training camp. It's a long, long season. It's a long year. ... We've been playing football since late July. To come up short of a goal, of a dream, it's not fun.

Despite the disappointment, Purdy expressed confidence in the team's ability to rebound and fight its way back to the Super Bowl next season.

"I think we have the team to do it," Purdy asserted. "That's what's tough about all this. It's a long, long season, and there's a lot of stuff that you go through, but at the end of the day, we all have the mindset of being able to do it."

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