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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan calls claim he can’t win a big game ‘extremely inaccurate’

Feb 14, 2024 at 11:21 AM--

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Kyle Shanahan has faced disappointment in three Super Bowls—twice as the San Francisco 49ers' head coach and once as the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. He lost all three appearances in dramatic fashion.

The first two games saw the coach's teams suffer significant late-game collapses. Sunday's showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs was lost in overtime, despite Shanahan's 49ers seeming in control for much of the contest. It was the coach's second time losing a Super Bowl to the Chiefs.

Obviously, three losses in the big game will raise questions about one's ability to get a team over the hump. This is the narrative Shanahan will confront this offseason and beyond, until he guides the 49ers to a championship victory.

"I mean, you'd love to fix perception because I would love to win one for what I know about football and stuff," Shanahan told reporters during Tuesday's end-of-season press conference. "And I know if I fixed perception, that means I did everything I wanted to do, which isn't to fix perception, it's to win a damn Super Bowl."

That was the goal this season. It was the goal in previous seasons. It remains the goal next season and beyond. Shanahan has been striving to reach the pinnacle of success for years, yet has always fallen just short.

This season may have presented Shanahan's best opportunity thus far. The roster, assembled by general manager John Lynch and himself, was likely the most talented over his coaching career. San Francisco boasted nine Pro Bowl players and seven All-Pro selections—impactful players such as Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Fred Warner.

Shanahan refutes the notion that he can't win big games. While most are referencing his Super Bowl defeats—the big games—the coach points out that the 49ers have won numerous significant games during his tenure.

"But I also know when you say big games, we've had to win a bunch of big games to get to Super Bowls," Shanahan remarked. "We've won a lot of big games here. We've won a lot of big games to get in the playoffs. The fact that we keep getting there shows you guys how much we've been able to win big games, and I think you guys are aware of that.

"But these two Super Bowls have been tough losing to Kansas City. But to think that if we win that, it means I can win a big game? No, that means our team won the Super Bowl. That's what I understand. You guys can have any narrative you want, but the success or the failure, it comes down to one game."

Unfortunately for Shanahan, those games have pitted him against two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history—Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. Brady has retired, but Mahomes remains a force to be reckoned with.

Shanahan added, "And I hope that I can be a part of a team that wins a game at the end of the year, but to say that the Niners can't win a big game would be an extremely inaccurate statement."

To reshape the narrative, Shanahan will need to find a way to overcome the Chiefs quarterback—the same player the 49ers passed on drafting in 2017.

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