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Niners coach Shanahan out to lift Super Bowl curse

todayFebruary 9, 2024 2

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After seeing his teams snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on his two previous visits to the Super Bowl, Kyle Shanahan is hoping to strike it third time lucky in Las Vegas.

The San Francisco 49ers head coach is back in the NFL’s championship game once more, hoping to banish the ghosts of his previous agonizing near-misses on Sunday when his team faces the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 44-year-old coach — regarded as one of the most innovative minds in the NFL — has twice been on the losing side in a Super Bowl.

In 2017, he was the offensive coordinator when the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to be reeled in by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history.

Three years later, Shanahan came up short once more when his 49ers team squandered a double-digit advantage and conceded 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points in a 31-20 loss to Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.

“I’ve been able to coach in two Super Bowls and both of them are heartbreaking,” Shanahan admitted this week.

“Those things last a while. But it’s all about getting back there again, and that’s what I’m excited for today.”

Of the two previous defeats, Shanahan said the 49ers’ loss to Kansas City in 2020 hits hardest.

Despite the scale of Atlanta’s collapse in 2017, Shanahan says he learned to put that loss in perspective, attributing it to Brady’s clinical genius.

“If you tell me before that game you’re going to blow a 28-3 lead and lose, I’d be like, ‘Do I ever come out of my room again?'” Shanahan told NBC.

“But I also understand that the quarterback on the other side (Brady) did the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen.

“The harder one was the Kansas City game, personally. As you get older and you go through the experience, you try to control everything. You realize you can’t.”

Shanahan, though, is well versed in disappointment. As a boy growing up in the 1980s, he saw his father Mike Shanahan, a coach with the Denver Broncos, lose in three Super Bowls.

“I remember always seeing my dad after losing those three Super Bowls when he was in Denver when I was younger and how hard it was on him,” Shanahan said.

“I think any time you get that close and lose the last one, that’s a tough one to harvest.”

Fortunately, Mike Shanahan’s coaching career ended in redemption.

He would go on to win two Super Bowls as head coach with the Broncos in 1998 and 1999, after winning his first ring as an assistant coach with the 49ers in 1995.

Kyle Shanahan hopes this weekend will see him following in his father’s footsteps for the right reasons.

“It’s the ultimate goal,” Shanahan said. “We always say it: There’s only one team happy at the end of the year.

“We’re real proud of a lot of things that we’ve accomplished here in the last five years or so. We still want to be that one team that’s happy.

“No matter what you accomplish, if you don’t win that Super Bowl, it’s always disappointing.”




Written by: Staff Writer

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