San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has taken a lot of flak online since his team’s Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Many have second-guessed the coach’s decision to take the ball first in overtime, blaming that move for the 49ers’ 25-22 defeat.
After the game, Shanahan explained his rationale, telling reporters that if both teams scored on their drives and one team had a chance at a third possession, he wanted it to be his.
Kyle Shanahan detailed why the 49ers took the ball after winning the coin toss in overtime.
“We wanted the ball third. If both teams matched and scored, we wanted to be the ones who had the chance to go win.” pic.twitter.com/MyuRRpGvTA
— KNBR (@KNBR) February 12, 2024
But two San Francisco players admitted after the heartbreaking loss that the new overtime rules in the playoffs were news to them.
49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk told reporters after the game that as far as he understood the situation, if his team scored a touchdown in overtime, the game would have ended there — just as it would have in a regular season game.
“You know, I didn’t even that the playoff rules were different in overtime,” Juszczyk said. “So I assumed you just want the ball because you score a touchdown and win, but I guess that’s not the case.
“So I don’t really — I don’t totally know the strategy there.”
This is embarrassing. Kyle Juszczyk didn’t even know the OT rules. Did Shanahan? pic.twitter.com/TEP5Bg7rNK
— Dave “Softy” Mahler (@Softykjr) February 12, 2024
Meanwhile, 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead said he found out about the new rules after regulation ended.
“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rules, so it was a surprise to me,” he said. “Yeah, I didn’t even really know what was going on in terms of that.”
The new NFL playoff overtime rules were a surprise to Armstead ???? pic.twitter.com/NZMaC6cVYA
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) February 12, 2024
Armstead appeared surprised to learn that a third possession was even possible.
Some NFL fans might remember that in Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in overtime after overcoming a 25-point deficit, scoring a touchdown on the only OT possession.
Are you surprised these players didn’t know the rules had changed?
Both teams now are allowed to possess the ball, even if the team that receives it first scores a touchdown. If the teams are tied after one possession each, the team that scores next wins.
Shanahan’s rationale was that he wanted to see what his offense could do so that if his defense could hold the Chiefs or force a tie by the time each team had possessed the ball, the 49ers had a chance to win it by scoring any points at all.
Many of his detractors argued that sending the defense out first would have been the best decision because the 49ers would have known what they needed to do on defense. If the defense executed, the offense would have been set up with a chance to win the game.
San Francisco scored three points in its overtime possession but lost when Kansas City got the ball, marched down the field and scored a touchdown.
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