49ers credit Chiefs for calling 'great' play on crucial third-and-15

49ers credit Chiefs for calling 'great' play on crucial third-and-15

SANTA CLARA -- San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward has watched the Super Bowl a lot. From the time the game ended on Sunday night through late Wednesday morning, he said he had already viewed the game film 10 times.

“I just like watching it,” Ward said, three days after the 49ers’ 30-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

He likes watching it?

“I’m a film type of guy,” Ward explained, “so I just watch the film and then I try to put myself in the opposing quarterback’s head: 'What is he thinking on this play?' ”

The play that everyone on the 49ers’ defense will remember was third-and-15. The Chiefs were down, 20-10, with 7:13 remaining, when Patrick Mahomes dropped back and looked deep for Tyreek Hill.

“It was the right call, a perfect throw and a great catch,” Ward said. “Me, being in the middle of the field, I really couldn’t get over.”

Ward said his main responsibility was to take away the deep throw to the middle of the field. Hill ran a post, then turned it into a corner route. Mahomes got rid of the ball a split-second before DeForest Buckner hit him.

Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley was apparently responsible for deep ball on that side of the field. But he followed Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins toward the middle on an underneath route. Mahomes left his pass for Hill short, but Moseley was not in position to get back in time to defend the play. And Ward did not have time to reverse direction to range toward the sideline to break it up.

Moseley, who has yet to re-watch the video of the game, did not delve into the specifics of the third-and-15 play.

“Eventually, I’ll watch it,” Moseley told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Right now, it’s kind of hard. I’ll watch it in about a week and get the things corrected that need to be corrected.

“I don’t really replay it in my head. Things happen. You just got to learn from it and move on from it. They got us on a play. It was a great play call by them. Things have to be better executed and once we do that, we’ll be fine.”

The 49ers surrendered only one pass play of more than 20 yards through 3 ½ quarters, but the Chiefs’ team speed had its first real impact on that play in which Hill hauled in a 44-yard pass on the game’s most critical play.

Ward said he had to respect the speed of the Chiefs wide receivers to turn and run any time they broke into the deep middle.

“The only (way) I was going to play that better is if I would’ve guessed,” Ward said. “I didn’t have any choice. I had to open my hips because, 17 (Mecole Hardman) or 10 (Hill), even 14 (Watkins), you can’t let them run up on you. You have to flip your hips. If you don’t flip your hips, they’ll run past you.”

[RELATEDWard wants to re-sign with 49ers]

It was a difficult end to the season for Moseley, who proved he is more than capable of being a starting cornerback on a Super Bowl team. He replaced Ahkello Witherspoon after an injury early in the season. Then, Moseley was back in the starting lineup in the postseason when Witherspoon struggled.

Now, Moseley heads into the offseason as the presumptive starting right cornerback for 2020. And he said he knows he room to be an improved player next season.

“I want to be a better me on the field,” Moseley said. “I just want to be a better teammate and do everything I can to make sure everything on the field is executed right, everything on the field goes right.

“It definitely gives me motivation. I’m ready to attack this offseason, and I’m ready to provide a lot more next year.”

What Myles Garrett's reported new contract means for Nick Bosa, 49ers

What Myles Garrett's reported new contract means for Nick Bosa, 49ers

Nick Bosa got off to a tremendous start to his NFL career, and it came as no surprise when he was named the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year. Though the award can be viewed as the culmination of one hell of a rookie season, it also points to an extremely bright future for the former No. 2 overall draft pick.

A quick glance at the list of NFL Defensive Rookies of the Year from the past decade suggests that Bosa is just scratching the surface of his dominance. From Von Miller to Luke Kuechly (retired) to Aaron Donald, his older brother Joey and tackling machine Darius Leonard, it's a who's who of the most impactful defensive players in today's game. One phenomenal defensive player not included on that list is Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who likely would have won the award in 2017 had he not missed the first four weeks of the season.

Ever since, Garrett has established himself as possibly the most feared defensive player in the league. He has accumulated 23.5 sacks in 26 games over the last two seasons combined, and figures to terrorize the AFC North for many years to come. That became far more certain Monday when NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported that Garrett and the Browns were nearing a historic contract extension, worth $125 million over five years.

Once signed, Garrett would become the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL, and would leapfrog Chicago Bears pass-rusher extraordinaire Khalil Mack to become the highest-paid defensive player in annual average salary in NFL history.

It's definitely a deserved number, though chances are he won't maintain that status as the top AAV salary among defensive players for long. Each year, new deals are struck, eclipsing those of the season before. Jimmy Garoppolo's contract, for instance, once viewed as an albatross no longer ranks among the top 10 salaries at his position.

If there's any one defensive player who should be most excited by Garrett's pending agreement, it's Bosa. He already is among the very best defensive players in the league, and it won't be long until the 49ers lock him up with his own record-setting extension.

Garrett entered the offseason with two years remaining on his rookie contract (counting the fifth-year option), so that can give you an idea of when a Bosa extension might come. Luckily for San Francisco, that's still a couple of offseasons away. His fifth-year option most certainly will be picked up, so based on the timing of Garrett's extension, we can assume Bosa might get his following the 2021 season.

Why is that lucky for San Francisco? Given the certainty of a massive drop in league revenue for the upcoming 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the salary cap is expected to -- at the very best -- remain flat, with a significant drop far more likely. The recent moves by the Chiefs, signing quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a mind-blowing contract extension and reportedly signing defensive tackle Chris Jones to another huge number -- both of which are considerably backloaded -- suggest that Kansas City expects the salary cap to substantially increase in the near future.

[RELATED: Could 49ers' Kinlaw follow Bosa's footsteps, win DROY?]

Assuming he remains healthy, Bosa will get more than Garrett did. Whatever that number is, it would be tremendously tough for the 49ers to fit that into the current salary cap. But a couple years from now, San Francisco very well could have the resources to pay Bosa, as well as a few other key players due for extensions.

The 49ers just missed out on the opportunity to select Garrett in the 2017 NFL Draft. Two years later, they nabbed Bosa, who just might be better and eventually will be paid like it.

NFL rumors: 49ers interested in signing Jarius Wright in free agency

NFL rumors: 49ers interested in signing Jarius Wright in free agency

Help could be on the way for the 49ers. Receivers Deebo Samuel and Richie James went down to injuries this offseason, and San Francisco reportedly is eyeing a veteran. 

The Athletic's Ben Standig reported Tuesday receiver Jarius Wright is on the 49ers' short list of free agents to sign right now. 

Wright played for the Carolina Panthers last season, finishing with just 28 receptions for 296 receiving yards and no touchdowns. He is an eight-year veteran, though, with plenty of experience under his belt. 

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Samuel (fractured foot) and James (fractured wrist) both are expected to be back before the regular season begins. But that's being optimistic, which doesn't always come to fruition with injuries.

In their absence, players like rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Jalen Hurd will have to step up for the 49ers. The door could even open for seventh-round pick Jauan Jennings

[RELATED: Madden 21 leak reveals top-10 rated 49ers players this year]

The 49ers also should receive a big boost with the healthy return of slot receiver Trent Taylor, who has looked explosive in offseason workouts. Dante Pettis shouldn't be written off quite yet, either.

But coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch very well could want to add a veteran for training camp. Perhaps that's where Wright fits. 

The 49ers believe in their talented, unproven group of young receivers. Still, it never hurts to add experience to the fold.