49ers Players Didn’t Know Super Bowl Overtime Rules


Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan walks off the field after losing Super Bowl LVIII to the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — Imagine waking up Super Bowl morning and not knowing the overtime rules. That was the case for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, according to a report from ESPN.

Let’s start from the top. The Chiefs and 49ers were deadlocked at 19 at piece. Patrick Mahomes and Fred Warner met at the 50-yard line for the overtime coin toss. The two captains had very different instructions. The Niners wanted their offense to have the ball first; the Chiefs wanted to kick and play defense to begin overtime.

Both got their wish. Brock Purdy and the 49ers got the ball first. And the rest is history. The Chiefs defense held the 49ers to a field goal. And Mahomes then led Kansas City on a game-winning drive, tossing a touchdown to Mecole Hardman.

Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs win, 25-22. Game over. Super Bowl over. NFL season over.

So your headline today.  Did Kyle Shanahan’s decision to receive cost the 49ers the Super Bowl?

Maybe. The Niners coach said he and his analytics staff discussed overtime possibilities before the game.

“None of us have a ton of experience with it, but we went through all the analytics and talked to those guys, and we just decided we wanted the ball third,” Shanahan said.

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

But the rest of the team? Not his much.

Multiple San Francisco players said after the game that they were not aware that the overtime rules are different and they did not discuss strategy as a team. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead said he learned the details of the postseason rule when it was shown on the Allegiant Stadium jumbotron during a TV timeout after regulation.

“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rule, so it was a surprise to me. I didn’t even really know what was going on in terms of that,” the defenseman lineman explained.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk said he assumed the 49ers asked to receive when they won the toss because that’s what you do in the regular season, when a touchdown wins the game.

“You know what? I didn’t even realize the playoff rules were different in overtime. I assume you just want the ball to score a touchdown and win.”

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Chiefs, different story.

“We’ve talked about it all year,” head coach Andy Reid said. “We talked about it in training camp about how the rules were different in regular season versus the playoffs. Every week of the playoffs we talked about the overtime rule.”

Chandler Jones said that if the Niners had scored a touchdown on their opening overtime possession to take a seven-point lead, the Chiefs were prepared to “go for two” if they scored on their ensuing possession.

“We knew what our game plan was — had we won the coin toss, whether we want to defer or not, and what our plan was from there.”

People often ask what’s the difference between a Super Bowl winning coach and a Super Bowl losing coach. One might say that knowing the rules….makes a big difference.

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