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49ers on moving past Super Bowl loss: “The wound heals, but the scar is still there”

Jun 11, 2024 at 2:25 PM

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The San Francisco 49ers didn't have to sit with the sting of February's heartbreaking Super Bowl defeat for too long. That's one of the benefits of playing deep into the postseason. Before you know it, you are back at work, preparing for the next season.

Two months after the loss, the 49ers reported for the start of the offseason program, which concluded last week with a two-day minicamp. Most of the players and coaches have moved past that game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the memory of it serves as motivation for the 2024 season.

That doesn't mean returning after the loss was easy. However, it's not the first time the 49ers have faced adversity.

"It's a difficult thing to do, to climb the mountain," defensive line coach Kris Kocurek recently told Matt Barrows of The Athletic. "It's not like baseball, where you have a seven-game series and you mess up one of them, you've still got six left. You watch the NBA playoffs, see a couple teams get blown out by 30, come back and win the playoffs. It's not that."

For Brock Purdy, the loss is yet another learning experience for the young quarterback, something that will help him become a better player.

"I just think it's such a big game," Purdy said in April. "Everything is magnified. Just every play can be the play. So [looking] back, it's like, I could have done better here with my eyes or my feet and with this read and make that throw. There's a handful of plays. So for me, it's like, dang, I could have been better, and I want to be better next time we get in that position and be ready for those opportunities when they come."

Purdy added, "Obviously, [you] wish you won the game, won the Super Bowl, and won a championship for this organization, but it happens. For me, it's like, alright, I've got to learn from it, like truly learn from it."

Defensive end Nick Bosa has lost two Super Bowls after previously reaching the big game during his rookie season.

"With the Super Bowl, unfortunately, I know how to bounce back from tough losses," Bosa said last month. "It was rough for a little bit, but now it's just annoying when people bring it up."

Kocurek is confident that the 49ers will respond and attack the upcoming season with renewed determination and urgency.

"You learn more from adversity and failure than you do from instant success," Kocurek said. "So you face the adversity, you face the failure head-on. It should add a bigger chip to your shoulder or a stronger fire to your gut. You get to that day where you never put it totally past you — 2019 will always be there, last season will always be there. The wound heals, but the scar is still there."

Kocurek noted that he turned the page on April 15, when his players returned to the facility, ready to embark on a new journey to climb the mountain yet again, hoping things might end differently this time.

Linebacker Fred Warner is confident his team will eventually hoist the Lombardi Trophy, believing the locker room will respond well to this latest setback.

"Those things stay with you," Warner said last month. "In this league, you earn scars. Throughout the league, you face adversity. Losing the Super Bowl, of course, is as big of an adversity that you can hit, and it stays with you and it makes you stronger. It makes you better. I know I'll be better from it.

"I've watched it several times and seen different plays that we could have made to win that game, and you just got to be better for next time. It's not a matter of 'if' in my mind. It's a matter of 'when,' when we do go win one."

Discussing the rigors of an NFL season and falling just short of the team's ultimate goal, Purdy commented, "You put so much into it, you get to the final game, and then you come up short in overtime. So for all of us, it's like, dang, in the moment, it's heartbreaking, but that's the nature of the sport that you play. At the end of the day, we all love this game and we all have passion for it."
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