For 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, Super Bowl 54 provides an opportunity for redemption. The last time Shanahan coached in a Super Bowl was when he was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
In that game, the Falcons were dominating the Patriots and were up 28-3 in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Falcons and Shanahan, the Patriots would score the final 31 points and would defeat the Falcons 34-28 in overtime. This was the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Losing in the Super Bowl was very difficult for Shanahan, and on Monday, he discussed how he felt after the loss to the Patriots.
“The days after were real tough,” Shanahan said. “Losing a Super Bowl is extremely tough for everybody, especially when you lose one when you have a 28-3 lead going into the fourth. The way it came down on me personally, I didn’t react to that, I think, the way people would expect because there were definitely parts in that Super Bowl that I would love to have back and stuff I was very hard on myself, but the whole narrative of if I would’ve just ran it, we would’ve won. I know that wasn’t the case.
“I know what went into that game and all the stuff that happened, so that stuff didn’t bother me. You’ve got to deal with that and listen to other people, but it was nice to be able to move on and move out here and just keep working. I’m glad I’m going to get the chance to go back.”
With the Falcons leading 28-20 late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons moved the ball all the way down to the Patriots’ 22-yard line. However, Falcons QB Matt Ryan was sacked, and then, the Falcons were called for a holding the penalty, which pushed the Falcons out of field goal range.
Shanahan discussed what he did wrong.
“Yeah, the play I regretted the most was when we got down there,” Shanahan said. “We haven’t converted a third down, really the entire second half, I think we were averaging one yard a carry rushing. So, when you do that, the formula to keep giving the ball back to someone is to go run-run-pass. You’re going to make a third-and-seven at best every single time. If you’re not converting third downs, that makes it tough. We did mix it up a little bit. I think we actually ran it more in the second half than we did in the first half.
“The other team was I think 34 of 38, converted all their third downs, couldn’t get the ball. Finally they got it within a score, we got it back and got pretty aggressive to get it down there. It was a second-and-10, called a pass on the last time down there. On second-and-10 I called a run. We got a two-yard loss and a holding call that put us out of field goal range. This time I went the opposite. Tried to get a play to [Atlanta Falcons WR] Julio [Jones]. They played a different coverage, didn’t get the call I wanted, so I didn’t like the call. I was hoping we could just get rid of it, but they had a pretty good rush and got a sack. Once that happened, I knew we had to throw because now we were out of field goal range. Threw it the next down to [Atlanta Falcons WR Mohamed] Sanu, ran a choice-route breaking out and moved the chains, but they called a holding call on our left tackle so that put us way back and we had to throw again to get back into it and we missed it. I wish I didn’t call that play on second-and-11 that led to that sack.”
Obviously, the Falcons should have won that football game, but Bill Belichick and Tom Brady made magic happen, and the rest is history.
Hopefully, for Shanahan, he can get vindication in Super Bowl 54.