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Missed opportunities cost 49ers Super Bowl: Rapid reactions

Marc Adams
Feb 12, 2024 at 6:00 AM--

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How much more pain can a heart take? It's the cry of San Francisco 49ers fans all over the world, after the team lost another heartbreaker, falling in Super Bowl LVIII to the Kansas City Chiefs 25-22. If anyone tells you that losing these games hurts less the more you do it, they're lying.

Early on, it looked like the 49ers might win. They were dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. But there was concern that, while the 49ers were controlling the game, they weren't taking advantage of the many opportunities to build a nice lead. And when Patrick Mahomes is the quarterback on the other side, you can't miss out on opportunities. At the end of the day, that was the story of Super Bowl LVIII—missed opportunities.

Here are my rapid reactions to the game. These are my live notes as the game unfolded.

  • A nice-looking opening drive came to an end when Christian McCaffrey fumbled. That was his third of the season. You can't make those kinds of mistakes against the Chiefs and expect to win.
  • Great start by the 49ers' defense.
  • Terrible start by Trent Williams. A false start and a hold killed the 49ers' second drive.
  • You would expect Brock Purdy, the young QB, to be a little off early on, not Williams and McCaffrey, the team's best two players.
  • Purdy started the game 6 for 6.
  • Chase Young with an early sack. That's a good sign.

  • And look at Randy Gregory making some plays out there.
  • Chris Conley has made some big plays in the postseason, on offense and special teams.
  • Purdy is spreading the ball around early. He hit six different receivers in the first quarter.
  • Jake Moody! Money from 55 yards. Just how we thought, right?
  • What was Tashaun Gipson doing on the big pass play by Kansas City? He looked like an outfielder losing a ball in the sun.
  • Javon Hargrave's fumble recovery had to have felt good, considering he lost to the Chiefs in this game a year ago.
  • Great play by Deommodore Lenoir forcing that fumble.

  • Dre Greenlaw was injured on the sideline as he was coming back into the game. Just a terrible break for him and the 49ers.

  • Young is having a great first half. That's great to see,
  • Jauan Jennings with the first touchdown pass of Super Bowl LVIII. What a play.

  • The defense was excellent in the first half, until the final drive before halftime. Even then, they still held Kansas City to a field goal. The 49ers defense is not going to be accused of a lack of effort in this game.
  • Arik Armstead had a great first half.

  • Kyle Shanahan said he wanted to run the ball 30 times in the Super Bowl. He ran it 14 times in the first half.
  • The 49ers rookies are showing off. Ji'Ayir Brown with the pick to start the second half.
  • The 49ers offense is not showing off, though. Too many penalties and mistakes.
  • Javon Kinlaw had a big stop on third down. It'll be interesting to see what happens with him in the offseason.

  • Why is Shanahan not running the ball? Two possessions into the second half, and he hasn't called a run play. In fact, eight of the first nine plays of the second half were passes. I just don't understand that.
  • Special teams may have just cost the 49ers the Super Bowl. That turnover on the punt return was bad. I had Kyle Williams flashbacks. Ray-Ray McCloud did the right thing since the ball bounced off Darrell Luter, Jr. first. But what a fluke play.
  • I loved the gutsy call by Shanahan to go for it on 4th down late in the game.
  • Jennings has been the MVP.
  • The 49ers special teams unit continues to try to lose the game. The blocked PAT may be the difference in this game.

  • So many missed opportunities.
  • That's a touchdown in overtime if someone actually tried to block Chris Jones. You would think the 49ers would learn. This is the second time Jones has done this to the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Aiyuk was open. So was Jennings.

  • I kind of wanted Shanahan to go for it on fourth down in overtime, rather than kicking the field goal. I realize that's probably not the right decision, but I just didn't feel like the defense was going to stop Mahomes. They were exhausted and you could tell. Many are criticizing Shanahan for taking the ball first in overtime. But I can see why he did it. With the new overtime rules, it may have been smarter to let the Chiefs have the ball first.
  • By the way, if you're screaming for Shanahan to be fired, you need to remember what it was like before he came to San Francisco.
  • Speaking of new rules, did Arik Armstead and Kyle Juszczyk both say they didn't know the new overtime rules? That is shocking, if true. Especially from those guys. And if Armstead and Juszczyk didn't know the rule change, how many others didn't?

  • Were there any holding calls on the Chiefs offensive line? They were holding a lot, but I don't remember any penalties being called.
  • The 49ers need help on the offensive line next season. They failed to give Purdy time to throw in some critical moments.
  • Mahomes is amazing, by the way. And Travis Kelce is a piece of trash. George Kittle would never act like Kelce does.
  • Speaking of Kittle, where was he? That was a disappointing game from Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. They had only eight catches between them. McCaffrey had that by himself. Kittle had two catches for four yards.
  • The 49ers receivers did not get much separation on their routes. The Kansas City corners are legit. But even so, the San Francisco receivers should have had more success than they did.
  • It was reported after the game that Greenlaw tore his Achilles. He not only missed the Super Bowl, he may miss some of the 2024 season. You have to think that a healthy Greenlaw may have been the difference. Kelce torched Oren Burks.
  • I thought Purdy played a really good game. He was calm, he made good decisions, and he threw the ball well. 49ers fans should be proud of their young quarterback. Steve Spagnolo said after the game that he was even more impressed with Purdy in person.
  • For once, 49ers fans will enter the offseason without any questions at quarterback. That will be refreshing.
  • This was Shanahan's best opportunity to win a Super Bowl, but I don't agree with the talk about how the window is closing. They'll regroup and reload.

There were so many missed opportunities that cost the 49ers this game. From offensive breakdowns to missed PATs to missed assignments and muffed punts, there were plenty of gaffes for the 49ers, and this one will hurt for a while. I'm sick of these heartbreaking season-ending losses. But I'm still proud of this team. It's just sad to continually go out this way.

Let the offseason begin.
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