Did the 49ers blow Super Bowl LIV, or was it just Mahomes magic?

Jimmy Garoppolo Playing Against Vikings
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon

NFL · 2 years ago

Show Bio

Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Kyle Shanahan knows all too well about blowing Super Bowl leads in what are still the early stages of his NFL coaching career. He was, of course, the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator when they squandered a 28-3 over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Now he is head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, who led the Kansas City Chiefs 20-10 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV only to get outscored 21-0 the rest of the way and fall 31-20.

When such a late-game disaster occurs, it is obvious that both teams must play a part. But to a greater extent, did the 49ers blow it or did the Chiefs seize it?

Shanahan shenanigans

Regardless of Tom Brady being on the other sideline in February of 2017, the Falcons undoubtedly blew that game. Their huge lead was still 28-9 going into the fourth quarter and just a couple of run plays at the right time would have sealed the deal. The defensive meltdown—no fault of Shanahan’s—was a similar disaster that does not get enough of the blame.

San Francisco’s collapse this past Sunday is more complicated. It was not an entirely epic one, but the fact that it came in the biggest football game on the planet and with Shanahan at the helm exacerbates the story.

Prior to the fourth-quarter failure, the 49ers—who are +800 to win it all next year—had a chance to put up points just prior to halftime with the score tied 10-10. Following a Kansas City punt, the NFC champions got the ball on their own 20-yard line with one minute remaining. With two straight run plays, they were content to run out the clock. A dump pass that Jeff Wilson Jr. eventually took 20 yards down the field changed things, and San Francisco appeared to surge into field-goal range with a 42-yard pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to George Kittle. However, it was called back by offensive pass interference and the Niners—now at their own 35—had no time left due to the first two run plays.

Fast forward to the fourth and Shanahan’s squad twice had the lead and the ball. Up 20-10 with 10 minutes left, the 49ers threw an incomplete pass on second down and a Garoppolo scramble on third down came up well short. Still leading 20-17 with six minutes remaining, they attempted passes on both second down and third down. Both fell incomplete for a quick three-and-out.

Mahomes magic

Kansas City’s offense answered both of those defensive stops with touchdowns, the second of which proved to be the game-winner with 2:44 on the clock. Mahomes and company added another TD—the clincher—shortly thereafter and their three fourth-quarter scoring drives went for a total of 190 yards. That is more than they had previously amassed in the entire game.

Although the 49ers had not given up 21 points in any quarter since Week 3 of the 2018 season, it’s not like their defense was any worse than that of other teams who had fallen victim to the Chiefs. Take these playoffs, for example. In the divisional round, Houston led 24-0 only to give up 51 points over the final three quarters en route to a 51-31 loss. In the AFC Championship, Tennessee jumped out to a 10-0 advantage but then surrendered 14 points in both the second and fourth quarters on the way to a 35-24 setback.

It is true that there are things the Niners could have done differently, especially to stop the clock when they needed to stop it and move it when they needed to move it. But even with those gaffes—and plenty of calls that did not go their way—perhaps no NFL team aside from Kansas City would have been able to take advantage.

Will the Mahomes magic shine through in the Super Bowl again? Check out the latest Super Bowl Odds and our Super Bowl Predictions to see if the Super Bowl Sportsbooks and our expert handicappers think it will.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
PointsBet

$500

Get 5x $100 Risk-Free Bets!

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

DraftKings

$200

Bet $5 on Any MLB Game, Get $200 if Your Team Wins!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5 on any MLB team to win their next game

Win $200 in free bets + any cash winnings from your original wager

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

DraftKings

$100

Bet $5 on any UFC 276 fight, Get $100 instantly

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5 on any UFC 276 fight

Win $100 in free bets + any cash winnings from your original wager

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

PointsBet

$2,000

Get $2,000 in Risk-Free Bets!

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook

$1,500

Get up to $1,500 Risk-Free First Bet!

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account

Make your first deposit of $50+

If your first bet is not a winner, get it all back as a free bet (up to $1,100) if you lose!

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

BetRivers

$250

Get a $250 Deposit Bonus!

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make a deposit & get it doubled up to $250 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $100

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

Unibet

$500

Get a $500 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $500 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $500

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

BetMGM

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet!

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

FanDuel Sportsbook

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet!

Register for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus!

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim 100% Instant Deposit Match up to $100!

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

Yahoo DFS

$25

Get $25 in Site Credit With Yahoo DFS When You Deposit $5!

Register for a new account with Yahoo DFS and deposit $5+

Enter a $5 DFS contest

Upon entry, you will receive a bonus $25 in credit into your account!

21+ and new players only. Full terms available from Yahoo DFS.

TVG

$200

Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your TwinSpires.com account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.