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49ers Notebook: Chris Jones says 49ers ‘crazy’ for taking ball to start OT; Players shocked at Dre Greenlaw injury; Moody discusses missed PAT; Where do the 49ers go from here?

Feb 12, 2024 at 12:23 AM--

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The mood surrounding the San Francisco 49ers following their 25-22 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII was understandably as dreary as it's ever been after a game. Despite this, a number of players joined head coach Kyle Shanahan in speaking with reporters and did their best to answer questions through a somber mood.

The 49ers were shell-shocked after losing on a game-winning drive led by Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and probably will be for a while, based on the comments to come out of their postgame press conferences.

"I was speechless," defensive end Nick Bosa said. "I couldn't really look anybody in the eye, especially all my teammates. I could have done more. Everybody could have done more, and there's really not much else to say at this point. It's gonna hurt. It's gonna hit in waves. But that's life."

We have a roundup of some of the key comments made by Bosa and other players in this depressing edition of 49ers Notebook, including what the players said about losing linebacker Dre Greenlaw to a torn Achilles and where the team will go from here after enduring one of the most crushing losses in franchise history. Plus we have a couple interesting comments to come from the Chiefs' side of things as well. Let's get into it...

Was taking the ball to start overtime the right move?

The 49ers won the coin toss after the end of regulation, which gave them the choice to kick or receive to start overtime. In years past, it was a no-brainer for any team that won the coin toss to choose to receive due to the rules stating that a touchdown for the receiving team ended the game.

But the NFL's postseason overtime rules changed after the 2022 season, making Super Bowl LVIII the first game to be played under the new rules.

Those new rules state that an overtime game in playoff follows the format of a new game, with 15-minute quarters and each team getting the chance to possess the ball. If a team is ahead after both possessions, like the Chiefs were Sunday night, that team wins. If they are tied after both possessions, the game continues until a team scores.

The Chiefs could have been expected to know those rules due to the fact it was their overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in the 2021 Divisional Round that brought about a change. Not everyone on the 49ers was well-versed on those rules, however.

"I didn't even know about the new overtime rules," 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead said after the game. "So it was a surprise to me. I didn't even really know what was going on in terms of that. They put it on the scoreboard and everyone was like, 'Oh even if you score, they get a chance.'"

Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones criticized the 49ers' decision to take the ball to start the overtime, saying it was exactly what the team that lost the coin toss would have wanted.

"They're crazy," Jones said of the 49ers. "Because the overtime rules have changed where both teams get the ball, no matter who scores. Originally you want to let the other team get the ball and stop or hold them to three, so you know what you've got. Or if you stop them and they punt it, then all you have to do is kick three."

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan shared that the team had discussed their overtime strategy in advance. They believed it was crucial to have the ball for a potential third possession.

"It's just something we talked about," Shanahan said. "None of us have a ton of experience of it, but we went through all the analytics and talked with those guys and we just thought it'd be better. We wanted the ball third. If both teams matched and scored, we wanted to be the ones who had the chance to go win and got that field goal.

"So we knew we had to hold them to at least a field goal and if we did, then we thought it was in our hands."

The 49ers scored a field goal on their opening drive of overtime, giving the 49ers a chance to win with a defensive stop. But Mahomes and the Chiefs had other ideas, driving 75 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

Jake Moody weighs in on the blocked extra point

Rookie kicker Jake Moody for the most part had an effective game for the 49ers as he connected on 3-of-3 field goal attempts including two from over 50 yards while also making sure every kickoff was a touchback. But there was one error that changed the complexion of the game a bit in the fourth quarter, which was when Moody's PAT was blocked after a 49ers' touchdown drive that kept the score at 16-13 instead of 17-13.

Shanahan said he wasn't sure what happened on the block, and neither did Moody.

"I'm not exactly sure yet. I'll have to watch the tape and see exactly what went wrong," Moody said. "That one stings, regardless of it being blocked or not blocked. Any misses are tough for me and I'll just have to watch the tape and see exactly what happened."

The blocked PAT was one of two costly special teams miscues for the 49ers in the second half, the other being a muffed punt that led to a Chiefs touchdown.

Tough to swallow

The 49ers were clearly affected by the injury to Dre Greenlaw both on and off the field, and after the game they were still shaken by what happened.

Greenlaw, who had been dealing with Achilles tendinitis in the weeks before the Super Bowl, tore his Achilles when running onto the field in the first half. He was carted off the field after the injury, which led to Oren Burks and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles getting reps in his place.

Linebacker Fred Warner said he was brought to tears at the sight of seeing an injured Greenlaw in the locker room at halftime.

"I'm sick to my stomach," Warner said after the game. "I'm still sick. I see him at halftime and I'm crying because I'm so hurt for him and obviously wanted to win this for him. Sickening."

Warner added, "He's just been dealing with that same Achilles injury for the past few weeks, so we ran out on the field together and I see him drop down and I knew exactly what happened."

Greenlaw had been having a difficult year with injuries before his Achilles problems, which made it even tougher for his teammates to see him unable to finish the Super Bowl.

"It was hard," Bosa said. "It was hard. Sometimes when things like that happen, it can sway the momentum just because it's such an emotional feeling, but I do think we did a good job of continuing to play the way we were playing. Dre is one of one human being. He was pushing through so much this year, and I think 99 percent of players wouldn't be able to do what he did. He put his body on the line for this and it sucks we couldn't get him one."

A long rehab awaits Greenlaw, who can probably be expected to miss some game time next season before returning to the field. The 49ers can hope he heals unexpectedly fast like Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers did last season, but in most likelihood they'll need a backup plan, at least initially.

"That's depressing," tight end George Kittle said. "To get injured in the Super Bowl -- hopefully he hits up Aaron Rodgers and figures out how to heal that quickly. Besides that, Dre's the heartbeat of our defense -- him and Fred in there. I know they feed off each other. OB and Flan, they stepped in and I think they did a really good job. But we lose a guy like Dre, it's tough. He's just such a fantastic football player and he's everything the Niners stand for. To lose him, it just really, really sucks for him."

Earning some respect, for what it's worth

The 49ers gave the Chiefs all they could handle in Super Bowl LVIII, outplaying them for much of the game. It didn't matter in the end, but their effort earned them a newfound level of respect from Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who said he was surprised at how tough the 49ers made things on the Chiefs.

Kelce was asked after the game what he said during a speech to the team over the weekend that reportedly left teammates in tears. He responded by saying his speech was about how the Chiefs knew how to win Super Bowl LVIII while the 49ers did not, but the 49ers almost wound up proving him wrong.

"That we had the formula. That we know how to go and get it and they didn't," Kelce said. "But that being said, I've got nothing but respect for the 49ers. They showed a lot more than even I imagined. There's going to be a lot of words being thrown around, but that team was every bit as deserving as we were. I've got a lot of respect for them, their coaches and how they go about their business. That game went all the way down to the wire for a reason."

This one will take a while to get over

The 2023 season was viewed as perhaps the best opportunity for this particular group of 49ers players to win a Super Bowl ring, which made the loss to the Chiefs even tougher to handle.

When the Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, there was a sense that the young 49ers standouts would get another chance at a Lombardi Trophy someday. But with a number of players getting older and key contractual decisions looming on the horizon, particularly after the 2024 season, the window of opportunity for this group of players isn't very large.

"It was a great season, but no moral victories," cornerback Charvarius Ward said. "You want to win a Super Bowl. We didn't get that done... A Super Bowl, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You don't know who's going to be back next year, who's going to be gone next year. Gotta love each other while you can because there's a short window to win Super Bowls in the NFL."

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk got choked up when speaking about the loss Sunday night, especially when discussing what his teammates mean to him.

"It's really hard," Juszczyk said. "It's really hard. I don't really know how to put it in perspective yet, and I still haven't had all the feelings of it yet. Right now, you feel numb a little bit. You don't know what to say to your teammates other than you appreciate them and you love them and you did some really good things together. You've just gotta finish it."

But that window of opportunity is expected to remain for at least another year, and the 49ers plan on being back for another go-round.

"Yes, 100 percent," quarterback Brock Purdy said. "I mean, that's the mindset every year. I think we have the team to do it.

"That's what's tough about all this, man. It's a 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, so yes."

Still, it's going to take a while for the team to move past this loss. Kittle isn't sure which Super Bowl loss will be more difficult to deal with but knows the team will continue to have a chance to do good things in 2024.

"I don't know if it's worse," Kittle said. "Give me a couple days. But I know we still have a talented team. We still have a great foundation. The only answer is go back to work."

In the meantime, the 49ers planned on hanging out with each other after the game for a little while longer while they still can -- somewhere away from the Super Bowl.

"We all just said we want to be together tonight," Bosa said. "Groups change every year, so you'll never be with that same group. We wanted to do it for Dre. We wanted to do it for all the guys on the line. Hopefully we can hang out tonight in a quiet place."

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