Kyle Shanahan loves to run the ball.
That was evident all season long and especially true thus far in the 49ers' postseason, where the Niners coach called for 47 runs against the Minnesota Vikings and for 42 against the Green Bay Packers en route to a berth in Super Bowl LIV.
But when the 49ers' season was on the line in the fourth quarter Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Shanahan strayed from the favorite tool in his shed. This was much to the delight of the Chiefs, who put up 21 unanswered points to take home a 31-20 Super Bowl victory.
The 49ers ran the ball only 22 times in the game, with Raheem Mostert leading the team with just 12 carries.
"We tried to run the ball," Shanahan told reporters after the game. "We play action, convert third downs. I think the plays got a little lopsided a little bit where we didn't have 15-play drives. I didn't feel like we punted until the fourth quarter."
Sure enough, the 49ers' first punt came with 8:53 remaining in the fourth quarter with San Francisco leading 20-10. After a Chiefs touchdown cut the lead to 20-17, the 49ers' most crucial drive of the season began on their own 20-yard line with 6:13 remaining in the game.
After Mostert picked up five yards on a first-down carry, Shanahan called for two straight pass plays -- resulting in two incompletions from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. It was the 49ers' first three-and-out of the game.
When asked if he wished they had run the ball more on that possession, Shanahan stood by his decision.
"No not at all," he said. "The last thing you're thinking about when you're up three points and there is that much time left, the clock is not an issue at that time, especially with the timeouts. The issue was moving the chains. If you move the chains, then you will wind the clock."
Of course, the Chiefs stormed right back to take the lead, and eventually, win their first Lombardi Trophy since 1970.
Shanahan surely will be replaying those missed opportunities over and over in his head as he tries to go to bed tonight, thinking about what could have been. Perhaps handing the ball off to his trusted running backs -- something he had no trouble doing all season long -- will be one of them.