Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback of San Francisco 49er, steps to the sidelines in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 soccer game against Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, February 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Florida (AP Photo / Matt York)
SANTA CLARA, California – Coach Kyle Shanahan knows that criticism of all the messages asking if he's okay after the San Francisco 49ers collapsed in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl loss to Kansas City are in circulation.
There are questions about time management and game calls, the performance of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and why the defense couldn't come up with a big stop when needed.
But Shanahan isolates himself from all of this and believes in his decisions and players, even if the team lost 31-20 in the fourth quarter by 10 points.
"I don't feel it's a big setback, I'm not on Twitter and whatever that stuff is," Shanahan said Thursday. “I would never do that to myself anyway. I've lost the Super Bowl before. I was part of a bigger lead that was lost. So I know very well what that means. I'm not a good liar either. How you hear me talk is exactly how I feel. I am very upset about the loss because it is difficult to get there. I personally thought we had the best team in the NFL this year. We do not have that. We have to deal with that. "
Now the Niners must begin the long process of returning here so Shanahan can be part of the one team that happily ends a season after winning a championship.
Only three teams recovered from the disappointment of losing the title fight and won the following year, with Dallas and Miami competing against each other in 1971/72 and then the New England Patriots again in 2018.
Eight other Super Bowl losers returned to the game the following season to lose again, including Buffalo three times. But 15 of the last 33 teams that lost in the Super Bowl didn't even make it into the following year’s playoffs, including last season’s Los Angeles Rams.
"We believe we are different," said General Manager John Lynch. "There aren't many teams that go from four wins to 13 and dominate an NFC in the playoffs and get there." We believe that this team is different. We believe that we are able to do this. "
In the off-season there will be big decisions as to whether the Niners can bring back key free agents like defender Arik Armstead, recipient Emmanuel Sanders and security Jimmie Ward.
Any expressed interest in returning, but keeping everyone, will be difficult below the salary cap, especially when players like All Pro are short of George Kittle and DeForest Buckner is soon prepared for an extension on the defensive.
San Francisco won't have nearly as much leeway to add large chunks as they did in the past couple of offseasons when they hired high-priced players like cornerback Richard Sherman, defender Dee Ford, linebacker Kwon Alexander, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
"These days no longer happen," said Lynch. "We can't go to the grocery store and say I have it, I have it, I have it. It's more like I have it, but I might have to put it off. There are compromises. It gets worse, but it does we knew all the time. "
But before the Niners can move on to the next season, they have to overcome the pain of losing the Super Bowl this year. Shanahan has had a painful Super Bowl loss. He was an offensive coordinator in Atlanta when the Falcons banished a 28-3 lead to New England before losing in extra time three years ago.
Shanahan quickly changed after this defeat and took over the position of head coach in San Francisco a few days later. He has repeatedly said that there was only one game call that he regretted to the patriots in this loss – a pass on the second and the eleventh that resulted in a sack that threw the hawks out of range of the field gate.
He doesn't regret any of his game assignments against the Chiefs, including the decision not to take any time off after Kansas City was stopped in third place and had barely two minutes left in the first half.
The Niners reset the ball to 20 after 59 seconds, 40 seconds less than if they had taken a break. There was even more time on a first outage and San Francisco remained without points after an offensive pass-interference call against Kittle wiped out a big win.
"I was as confident in what we did in this situation as I was in everything we did all year round," said Shanahan. "I mean that very seriously. You will work on this for two weeks and learn the team what they are capable of. You won't give the ball back to them in any situation. "
Shanahan also said he remains confident in Garoppolo, who only completed three of eleven passes in the last quarter, ending his first full season as a starter after missing most of the season with a cracked ACL.
He missed some open receivers, including Sanders on a deep pass that could take San Francisco back in the lead in the past two minutes.
"I think Jimmy is one of the main reasons why we came to the Super Bowl. I think he has overcome a lot, ”said Shanahan. "I can't tell you how much I loved training the guy as a player and as a person this year."
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