After losing Super Bowl LVIII to the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers had a chance to end the story that has been going around about them for the last five years. Instead, they turned it into a much bigger question:
Why not now?
The Niners have done a lot in the last two years to finally win their sixth Lombardi Trophy. They’ve been in war before and have scars to show for it. They gave up four draft picks for running back Christian McCaffrey.
They told Javon Hargrave they would give him $40 million to help fix a hole in their defense. They also picked up Brock Purdy in the seventh round of the 2022 draft and helped him get better. They are sure he will be their quarterback for a long time.
Within the Niners’ facility, people saw their problems over the last four years—a lost 10-point fourth-quarter lead to Kansas City in Super Bowl LIV, an injury-plagued 6–10 pandemic season, and back-to-back disappointing losses in the NFC Championship Game—as fuel to make them better.
Instead, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl 25–22 in OT, becoming the first dynasty in NFL history. They had won three titles in five years, while the Niners had dropped two.
It was another heartbreaking loss for San Francisco on Sunday. They have now lost so many games that seasons and titles are in danger. The Niners were very upset after Ray-Ray McCloud III messed up his punt, Jake Moody missed the extra point, and Patrick Mahomes did great things late in the game.
In Super Bowl XLVIII, Michael Crabtree made a catch in the corner of the end zone. In Super Bowl LIV, Tyreek Hill caught a pass for 44 yards in the last few seconds.
“Yeah, I couldn’t say anything.” Can’t look anyone in the eye. “Most of all, my teammates,” defensive end Nick Bosa replied. “I did more than I needed to.” Everyone could have done more, and there’s not much else to say at this point. Life is like that; it will hurt and hit you in waves.
Crazy enough, the team hasn’t won a title in 29 years. From 1981 to 1994, they had some of the best players and leaders in the history of the sport and won five Lombardi Trophies. It is the fifth time in NFL history that a team has lost three straight Super Bowls. It had already won five Super Bowls before this.
It looks like the Niners lost today, and they don’t know what will happen next. Because Purdy’s pay day is coming up in 2025, the leaders on the team may lose their chance to win a title.
John Lynch, the general manager, said, “It’s hard to look at the guys—the Ronnie Lotts, the Steve Youngs, and the Joe Montanas—when we haven’t done that.” “Because they helped us, and we want to help them too.” There’s a fight going on, but you have to pay that off.
“Do that to be great. You need to get through it.”
This loss has made a lot of people pay close attention to coach Kyle Shanahan. He has only lost two Super Bowls that went into extra time. He has a lot of time to finish the job because he is 44 years old. He has been an NFL head coach for seven years now.
It takes a lot of work to get to the Super Bowl door, let alone break it down and take the Lombardi Trophy. Before Kyle Shanahan won two Super Bowls in four years, Jim Harbaugh made the 49ers a dangerous team again.
From 2011 to 2013, the Niners went to the NFC Championship Game every year. It was their first trip since 1997. In his second season, they went to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1994.
Harbaugh came so close a lot of times in his four years in San Francisco. After the 2014 season, he left to coach at the University of Michigan. He tried many times, but he could never make it.
Harbaugh said last week, “The NFL is the most competitive sport in the world.” “I dream about having another crack at it.”
I don’t understand how hard it is to get through when Superman is on the other team. Montana stopped Hall of Famers like Dan Marino from getting a ring for a long time. Tom Brady was the best quarterback in the NFL for 20 years. Some greats, like Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, have only won one big game.
With Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback, teams that want to win the title now have to go through them. It’s great to be good enough to win the Super Bowl, but sometimes a team is too good at the wrong time.
This all makes the Niners’ most recent loss even worse. The last four games they’ve played against the Chiefs were all losses under Shanahan. Three of those losses were by more than 10 points. It has been this long since Shanahan took over that San Francisco has dropped this many games without beating any other team. Even if the Niners get back to this point, Andy Reid, the Chiefs, and the rest of the team might be ready.
“This is my second (Super Bowl) as the head coach, but I think when you go against guys like Tom Brady and Pat Mahomes, you better never feel comfortable with the lead,” Shanahan said after Sunday’s loss. “Those two players are the best ever.” That’s why those guys are always in it, even if you’re not far behind or ahead. They always do that, you can tell.
Before Sunday night’s loss, someone had already said that Shanahan and Reid were a lot alike. Reid was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 years. During that time, his teams made it to five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. It took the Kansas City Chiefs six years to win the Super Bowl, but they did make it to five championship games and one AFC Championship Game during that time.
He was known as the “best coach who never won a Super Bowl.” Shanahan’s friends and family know how important it is to get through this.
Reid joined the NFL with Kansas City and won his first title there. He now plays safety for San Francisco. He thinks Shanahan is just as good as his old coach and knows how much Shanahan wants to win.
What Ward said this week was, “[Shanahan] also eats, sleeps, and breathes football.” “I believe that getting that Super Bowl ring will make his career stronger in every way.” It looks like that’s the only thing he forgot. “He’s one of the smartest football players, everyone knows that.”
But these losses hurt even more as time goes on. Even after a bad split at the end of the season, Shanahan says he needs at least a month to clear his mind and get ready for the next season.
Harbaugh knows how you feel about it. One hundred and eleven years after Super Bowl XLVII, the wounds are still there. The Baltimore Ravens beat the New England Patriots.
He said, “I think about it every day.” He is back in the NFL and has been the coach of the Los Angeles Chargers since January. What could have been better? How could we get the ball in from the 5-yard line?
“It’s vivid, and you walk off that field going, ‘There’ll be other days,’ but that might’ve been the only day.”
Shanahan won’t have much time to grieve because the 49ers won’t be back for another year. Someone needs to tell him and Lynch that they are not “also rans.”
The 2023 Niners had one of the best teams in the team’s history. They are in a tough spot, though, since they haven’t won the Super Bowl yet. Despite the fact that most of the 49ers’ best players are already under contract for next season, they are $43.96 million over next year’s pay cap. It looks like Purdy’s rookie deal will end after 2024, which will be their last season together.
He will probably have to pay 50 times as much for his $1.12 million cap charge in 2024 if he signs a new deal in 2025. Because of this, they might have to make tough decisions about some of their expensive troops. Because of this, the 2023 season could be a two-year window to win the Super Bowl, at least with the professionals that are already on the team. York finds the thought funny.
“When you talk about windows, I just think that that’s such a B.S. concept in this league,” stated York. “There’s no telling when you might get the chance to be here.” “You should make the most of it.”
There is still a window, though. Some of the pros, like seventh-year tight end George Kittle (two catches for 4 yards on Sunday), have said they know it and need to break through it as soon as possible.
When the offseason starts, one of the Niners’ main goals will be to sign rising star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to a lucrative extension. Aiyuk has made three catches for 49 yards and is coming to the end of his rookie contract. The Niners need to make moves to win a title next season, but they also need to think about the future.
They spent a lot of money on an offensive line that hasn’t been as good as they thought it would be. Their defense needs a fresh look. But their offensive line has had a hard time without All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, who is 35 years old, and they need to start planning for the future in the defense.
“We’ve been so close so many times that it’s only so many more opportunities that we have,” Bosa said on Sunday. “We have amazing core of players that are going to be back and we have to be better.”
The 49ers took a 40-minute bus ride from their hotel in Henderson, Nevada, to Allegiant Stadium on Monday for the NFL’s opening night media event. Fred Warner and Bosa talked about their trip back to the Super Bowl on the way.
At one point, they talked about how many players were still on the team from each pick class. Warner picked players who would all be gone in five years. After four years in the draft, three of Bosa’s friends were still living. He was proud of this.
The 49ers’ two best defenders both knew one thing: every team will have to deal with big changes at some point. This is especially true for a team that tried to come back with the same core, but they might need a bigger change to get it done.
“Of course, we have the team to do it, to win the whole thing and still lose.” “That’s how things have been around here for the past two years,” said Purdy. “Everyone wish they had it.” We might not know what’s going on yet, but everyone in the room loves each other. That is what I will say.
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