SANTA CLARA -- Not only did the 49ers let a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in the Super Bowl slip away on Sunday night, they also lost all the wins that got them closer to a championship.
The 49ers' record immediately reset for the 2020 season. And, now, the climb begins again.
The 49ers won 15 of the 19 regular-season and postseason games in which they played. But, now, like the 31 other teams in the NFL, they start the next season at 0-0.
The 49ers built tremendous chemistry in the locker room and the playing field throughout the 2019 season, and members of the team believe that is not going away any time soon.
After coming out of nowhere to win the NFC West and advancing to the Super Bowl, 49ers running back Raheem Mostert said he does not believe the club faces any more pressure next season as a team that is not going to sneak up on anyone.
“Our odds are greater than most people think, simply because we’re going to be losing some guys in the offseason and we’re going to be gaining some guys,” Mostert said. “But the core values of this team are always going to be the same, regardless. We have the formula. We know what it takes. We got guys who’ve been to the dance now, so it’s just more motivation than anything."
Mostert said there has already been talk among the players of taking a trip together in the offseason to continue to cultivate the chemistry among the individuals in the locker room in order to take steps to ensure the team has a similar bond as this season.
Coach Kyle Shanahan believes the 49ers are a special group that is capable of beating the odds. Only three teams that lost the Super Bowl one season came back to win it all the next: Dallas (1971), Miami (1972) and New England (2018).
Shanahan said he believes the reason it has been difficult for losing Super Bowl teams to earn the Lombardi Trophy the following year is mostly because it is so difficult to advance all the way to the championship game in the first place.
“It’ll be hard to get back here, but looking around this room, looking at all the guys, we got the pieces for it,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said this week. “Guys have the right mindset for it. That’s the encouraging part. I think most guys feel the same way the last couple of days.”
Veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders has appeared in three Super Bowls. He lost with the Pittsburgh Steelers, won with the Denver Broncos, and was back on the losing end on Sunday.
He said he re-watched the film of the 49ers’ 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV several times – each time hoping the video showed a different ending. Sanders’ future is uncertain. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. But he spoke as if he anticipates being back with the 49ers in their quest to win a championship next season.
“So now we have to move on and look forward to next year and this offseason and grinding and try to get back and try to win it again,” he said.
The 49ers had their final team meeting on Wednesday. The offseason program does not get started until mid-April. During his final address to the 49ers, Shanahan said he wants to keep the same approach next season.
“He’s proud of us. He loves us,” Mostert said. “He wants to get up and talk the same way next year. That’s his mentality. We all were, basically, ‘Hell, yeah, let’s do it.’”
Garoppolo said the disappointment of experiencing a loss in the Super Bowl will fuel the entire time, but he said it will especially fuel him after the club was unable to close the deal on Sunday night in the final eight minutes.
The 49ers spent the first few days after the defeat working through the process toward acceptance and hope.
“Sunday night was awful. It was an awful feeling,” 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “You obviously don’t want to miss out on those kinds of opportunities. But it’s motivation. We know we have a chance to continue to do something special, and that’s what we’re going to try to do, and it starts today, I guess.
“Guys are going to get away. You got family stuff to deal with. People, go home, see your loved ones. And we get right back to it pretty soon.”