In a decision many NFL observers questioned, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan elected to receive the ball in the overtime period of Super Bowl 58 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He tried to explain his decision in post-game comments.
Shanahan's reasoning came down to trying to think several steps ahead, assuring his team would have the ball if the game remained tied after two possessions, per The 33rd Team's Ari Meirov.
If the game was indeed deadlocked after the OT period's first two possessions, it would then be “next score wins” rules.
The decision by Shanahan to take the ball might not have been the wrong one. But the way he coached his team in overtime, with Patrick Mahomes lurking on the other sideline, once again doomed his team to a loss to the Chiefs on the NFL's biggest stage.
Shanahan gives ball to Mahomes, loses
Shanahan's conservative nature has created issues for the 49ers in the past, and Sunday was no different.
After Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey got the Niners inside the Chiefs' 10-yard line, Shanahan needed to display a killer instinct. Instead, he played for three points.
A McCaffrey run on second-and-four went nowhere, and then Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones helped force Purdy into an incompletion on third down.
With four yards to go for a first down and nine for a touchdown, Shanahan settled for a field goal.
While taking a lead seems like a no-brainer decision, it's been demonstrated over and over that teams need touchdowns to defeat Mahomes and Co., not three-pointers.
A golden opportunity was squandered, and that third possession that Shanahan was playing for never materialized. Mahomes marched the Chiefs down the field, found the end zone, and handed Shanahan his second loss in the Super Bowl as a head coach.
While opting for the ball in overtime might have been the right call, what Shanahan did with it arguably was not.