The San Francisco 49ers reached the top, but couldn’t quite surpass the final hurdle. After a 12-5 regular season, a No. 1 overall NFC seed, two comeback wins in the playoffs, and an early lead in the Super Bowl, the Niners once again fell to the Kansas City Chiefs and fell short of a long-coveted title. They lost 25-22 in overtime. We break down what this loss means for the 49ers going forward, and whether it will set them back.
While there are only 32 teams in the NFL, a number that does not seem staggeringly high to look at, a Super Bowl berth is an extremely rare thing for most franchises. To get there and lose is to blow an opportunity that may never come to your doorstep again. The 49ers have reached the title game just three times since they last won it all in 1995.
Where does San Francisco go from here?
What loss in Super Bowl means for 49ers
Purdy did his job in Super Bowl 58. Is the bar lower for him than it is for Patrick Mahomes? Yes, but because Mahomes has made it that way, not Purdy. Purdy didn’t throw any interceptions. He scrambled when he needed to scramble. He struggled to find receivers in the third quarter, but that was just as much credit to the Chiefs defense as it was a mark against Purdy and the Niners’ offense. Purdy has locked down his role as the Niners’ starting quarterback, and will have job security under this Kyle Shanahan offense in the years to come.
After that early CMC fumble, the offense did not make any egregious errors. Yes, Purdy struggled to find his receivers in the third quarter. But the big mistakes came on special teams, and this game could absolutely be characterized as defense-forward, as both offenses struggled to string together any momentum-building plays.
The offense’s biggest concern won’t arrive until 2025, when Purdy’s rookie contract goes up for extension and the Niners will need to move puzzle pieces around to pay him up to 50 times more than he currently earns. They will be able to avoid that upcoming cap hit through next season, when they will focus on re-signing Brandon Aiyuk and beefing up the offensive line.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan
The overtime call to receive the ball first was a questionable one, if not outright wrong. Shanahan’s explanation for it was that he wanted the ball first if it came down to sudden death rules, but giving Patrick Mahomes unlimited time and all four downs to complete a drive is a fool’s errand. The Ringer also reported that some Niners players were unaware of the new playoff overtime rules, while others did not know that they were opting to take the ball first. While the unpreparedness did not necessarily affect the game, it reflected poorly on Shanahan.
Can 49ers remain contenders?
They absolutely can. Say what you will, but Brock Purdy took them to the top in a very solid performance that included multiple playoff comebacks. They have a very strong slate of receivers, one of the best pass rushers, and arguably the best running back in the NFL on their roster. Their defense, a piece that was lacking in much of the Niners’ playoff run, looked strong and decisive against the Chiefs, and even got to Mahomes several times, a rare and challenging feat. This team has all of the tools in place to be back in this position as soon as next season.
But can they beat the Chiefs? That’s another question entirely.