49ers takeaways: What we learned in 31-20 Super Bowl loss vs. Chiefs

49ers takeaways: What we learned in 31-20 Super Bowl loss vs. Chiefs


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- In his return trip to the Super Bowl, 49ers coach Kylle Shanahan experienced an all-too-familiar result.

The 49ers blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead Sunday night in the biggest game of the season, as Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes rallied his team to a 31-20 victory in Super Bowl LIV.

Shanahan was on the wrong end of another big Super Bowl comeback just three years earlier as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. He received a lot of criticism for his handling of the offense in a game in which the New England Patriots rallied from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to pull out an overtime victory.

The game brought a disappointing end to a remarkable season in which the 49ers won the NFC West and earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The 49ers were just the third team to advance to a Super Bowl after winning four or fewer games the prior season. The 1999 St. Louis Rams are the only one of those teams that won a Super Bowl.

After winning their first five Super Bowl appearances in franchise history, the 49ers now have lost two consecutive league championship games. The 49ers lost Super Bowl XLVII to the Baltimore Ravens in February of 2013.

The 49ers remain with five Super Bowl titles, one behind both the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Chiefs’ Mahomes shows his magic

Patrick Mahomes is never out of it. And, now, coach Andy Reid is a Super Bowl champion.

He saved his best for last after earlier in the postseason rallying the Chiefs from 24- and 10-point deficits.

The 49ers held a 20-10 lead midway into the fourth quarter before Mahomes came up with a huge play on a third-and-15 situation when he flung a deep pass down the field for Tyreek Hill, who turned around 49ers deep safety Jimmie Ward.

The play picked up 44 yards and gave the Chiefs a first down at the San Francisco 21-yard line. Four plays later, Mahomes tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce to pull Kansas City within 20-17.

After a 49ers three-and-out, Mahomes went right back to work against a dragging defense.

Mahomes made another third-down play with a 5-yard touchdown pass to running back Damien Williams to give the Chiefs a 24-20 lead with 2:44 left in regulation.

Mahomes finished the game completing 26 of 41 pass attempts for 286 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Garoppolo unable to lead comeback

Jimmy Garoppolo had a chance to lead his team down the field 85 yards for the win in the final minutes, but the 49ers’ offense could not get it done.

His best chance came on a third-and-10 play in which receiver Emmanuel Sanders had a step on a couple of Chiefs defenders, but Garoppolo badly overthrew him on a play that could have gone for a touchdown. Frank Clark dropped Garoppolo for a sack on fourth down.

Garoppolo completed 20 of 31 pass attempts for 219 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Garoppolo threw a late interception. He also had one in the first half, but he rebounded from it.

With defensive tackle Mike Pennel bearing down on him, Garoppolo tried to get his pass out along the right sideline in the direction of Deebo Samuel. Perhaps, he tried to throw the ball out of bounds. But he could not get enough power behind the throw, and he left it out there for Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland to get the easy interception.

Garoppolo quickly has put such mistakes behind in the past. And he did it again on Sunday.

Garoppolo completed all three pass attempts on the 49ers’ next possession for 42 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

In drives after interceptions this season, Garoppolo completed 39 of 42 passes for 461 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 136.2 passer rating.

The drive was particularly important, as it pulled the 49ers into a 10-10 tie late in the second quarter and prevented Kansas City from taking control before the end of the first half.

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Shanahan plays it cautiously

The 49ers knew they were getting the ball to start the second half, so they went to great measures to make sure they had the ball to end the first half.

After Fred Warner and Jaquiski Tartt made stops on second and third downs to force a Kansas City punt, Shanahan opted to not call a timeout with approximately 1:50 remaining in the first half. General manager John Lynch was shown in a booth signaling for Shanahan to call for a timeout.

Kansas City let the clock run down, and the 49ers took over at their own 20-yard line with 59 seconds remaining.

After run plays on first and second downs, Jeff Wilson caught a pass out of the backfield for a 20-yard gain. The 49ers’ chance to score points before the end of the first half ended when George Kittle was called for a questionable pass-interference penalty, which nullified a 42-yard pass play to the Kansas City 13.

The 49ers ended up taking a knee to run out the final seconds. Shanahan’s decision to play it safe could be seen as the coach lacking confidence in Garoppolo. Clearly, Shanahan did not want the Chiefs to have another opportunity to score before the end of the half.

NFL All-Decade snubs: Andy Lee, not NaVorro Bowman, 49ers' biggest omission

NFL All-Decade snubs: Andy Lee, not NaVorro Bowman, 49ers' biggest omission

The NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame provided a gift to the content-starved masses Monday, naming 55 players to the All-Decade team of the 2010s.

Some, including 49ers fullback Kyle Jusczyk, immediately sprung into action to note those who were left off. The Twitter mentions for NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport’s story, as just one example, are littered with fans asking “Where is [insert NFL player here]?”

The 49ers were well-represented on the list, with franchise legends Frank Gore, Joe Staley and Patrick Willis all making the cut. Richard Sherman did, too, although his Seattle Seahawks stint surely was on the minds of most voters. But did any other San Francisco players warrant inclusion? 

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman and punter Andy Lee have the best cases, but one is a much bigger snub than the other. 

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Bowman, who retired in 2019, finished the 2010s with the eighth-most solo tackles (585) among linebackers and the 11th-most combined (798). His three seasons of 100-plus solo tackles were the third-most in the decade. The pick-six in Candlestick Park’s last game plus his status as a stalwart in the 49ers’ dominant Jim Harbaugh-era defense only boosts Bowman’s status as a San Francisco icon.

Yet Bowman’s inclusion arguably would come at the expense of Willis, his longtime teammate. Willis retired after playing just six games in the 2014 season, ending the decade with three First Team All-Pro selections and four Pro Bowl nods. Bowman was First-Team All-Pro four times and a three-time Pro Bowler. 

Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner, the other two inside linebackers who made the NFL’s All-Decade team, each were First Team All-Pro five times and were named to seven and six Pro Bowls, respectively. Willis’ feet and Bowman’s ACL and Achilles injuries perhaps robbed both 49ers of more appearances, but Kuechly and Wagner accomplished more in the 2010s. 

Chandler Jones, Khalil Mack and Von Miller made the cut as outside linebackers, even though the All-Decade team featured four defensive ends and thus (hypothetically) wouldn’t line up in a 3-4 defense. But Miller was a unanimous selection, while Jones and Mack’s dominance shouldn’t be discounted. The voters seemed committed to having three inside linebackers and three outside linebackers, and a longtime 49er thus would've been snubbed regardless. 

Lee’s exclusion, on the other hand, is more of a head-scratcher. He, unlike All-Decade punters Shane Lechler and Johnny Hekker, played every season of the decade and ended it with a higher yards-per-punt average (47.9) than both punters. Lee finished the 2010s with two of the 10 highest single seasons in terms of yards per punt, including the decade’s highest in 2010 (50.9).

Lechler and Hekker are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the NFL’s all-time yards per punt leaders (min. 250 punts). Hekker’s career began in 2012, but his 2010s weren’t as prolific as Lee’s and neither were Lechler’s.

Lee fit the committee’s eligibility criteria, having made two First Team All-Pro appearances and a Pro Bowl in the 2010s. That basically is equivalent to Lechler, who made a First Team All-Pro and two Pro Bowl appearances, but Lee doesn’t carry the reputation as arguably the greatest punter of all time. Hekker made First Team All-Pro and the Pro Bowl every year from 2015 through 2017, likely benefitting from those accolades and their recency. 

[RELATED: Bourne signs one-year tender to remain with 49ers in 2020]

Ray Guy is the only punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, making an All-Decade team pretty much the professional pinnacle for recognition at the position. Lee’s exclusion, then, is more meaningful than Bowman’s. The longtime linebacker might not be headed to Canton, Ohio either, but his placement in the 49ers’ Hall of Fame -- or even a jersey retirement -- is easier to envision than it is for Lee, a specialist who now has played for four different teams. 

To borrow a line from Rich Eisen: Punters are snubs, too.

Kendrick Bourne signs one-year tender to remain with 49ers in 2020

Kendrick Bourne signs one-year tender to remain with 49ers in 2020

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne signed his one-year tender to remain with the 49ers as a restricted free agent on Monday.

The deal will pay Bourne $3.259 million for the 2020 season. Bourne now is scheduled for unrestricted free agent next offseason.

The 49ers placed the second-round tender on Bourne this offseason, meaning another club could sign Bourne to an offer sheet on a multi-year contract. If the 49ers did not match the offer sheet, they would receive a second-round draft pick as compensation.

Bourne’s decision to sign the tender means he not allowed to negotiate a contract with any other team.

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Bourne, 24, caught 30 passes last season for 358 yards and five touchdowns. In three NFL seasons, he has 88 career receptions for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns. He entered the NFL in 2017 as an undrafted rookie from Eastern Washington.

Running back Matt Breida, also tendered at the second-round level by the 49ers, has yet to sign his tender. He still is eligible to sign an offer sheet with another team.

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