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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Young: 49ers’ best chance at a title may have passed

May 15, 2024 at 1:19 PM

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Steve Young believes the San Francisco 49ers may have missed their best opportunity for the organization's sixth Super Bowl victory. It was an uphill battle for the 49ers in the playoffs, requiring two comeback victories against perceived weaker opponents before suffering an overtime defeat in Las Vegas against the Kansas City Chiefs.

For various reasons, the Hall of Fame quarterback feels that it was head coach Kyle Shanahan's best opportunity to silence his critics and finally emerge victorious in the NFL title game.

Now, it's too early to predict how the 2024 season will unfold. The Niners could be just as competitive as last season. They might find themselves at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Sunday, February 9, 2025, competing against the AFC champion for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

However, like many fans, Young's mind remains on the missed opportunity from last season.

"The most pressure was last year, right?" Young said this week on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game's "Willard and Dibs" show (h/t Taylor Wirth of NBC Sports Bay Area). "Because last year, the Rams are down, the whole division is down. The Seahawks are down, the Cardinals are way down.

"In the playoffs, you play a Packers team that's been middling the whole day. You've got an upstart Lions squad. You're like, 'That's how we get to the Super Bowl?' And then you play a down-year Chiefs team. Of all the times that you're set up to do it, that was it."

San Francisco led in that game against quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Ultimately, Mahomes pulled off some more magic and found a way to deliver a gut-wrenching defeat to the 49ers.

"And we held Patrick Mahomes to 19 points," Young continued. "If you had told me Patrick Mahomes won't score three touchdowns, [I would have asked], 'We're not going to win that game?'"

Young points out that the 49ers showed flaws entering the Super Bowl contest after struggling against playoff opponents they should have more handily defeated. Now, the 49ers will compete in a conference that is expected to be more competitive.

"Things were haywire from Christmas on, and that's why last year was the time, with the best roster in football, to go get it done," Young said. "And the fact is it didn't happen. That happens. It happened to me. I get that. But now, next year, I think the Rams will be better. I think that [WR] Marvin Harrison will make the [Cardinals] better, the Seahawks will be better, the Lions will better, the Packers will be better.

"It's going to get better, and we're probably not—I don't know if we'll get better, but hopefully, we can stay the same and still beat the rank and file with this amazing roster we have and the way that we deploy the guys in on offense. Then yeah, great. But what just happened was a big miss. It just was. It was too bad."
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