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#pounditTuesday, April 16, 2024

Kyle Shanahan explains why 49ers took the ball to start overtime

Kyle Shanahan in a 49ers cap

Oct 3, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan walks on the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was questioned by some for his decision to take the ball at the start of overtime in Super Bowl LVIII, but the coach said the move was far from a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Sunday’s game was the first to be played under the NFL’s new playoff overtime rules, which were changed in the 2022 offseason to ensure that both teams would have a chance to possess the ball. The 49ers won the coin toss, which made Shanahan the first to have to make the key decision of whether to take the ball first or kick off and get the second possession.

Shanahan wanted the ball, and while some questioned the decision, he explained his logic after the game. The 49ers coach told reporters that the decision had been considered beforehand, and he wanted to make sure that his team would get the ball for a hypothetical third possession. That would put them in position to win the game with any score.

Detractors pointed out that getting the ball second would enable an offense to use all four downs if need be, and getting the ball first comes with fewer advantages if both teams are getting a possession anyway. Those are fair arguments, and one could also point out that working with the third possession in mind is overthinking when things have to go a specific way on the first two for it to even matter. The ploy would have probably looked pretty good, however, if San Francisco’s defense had been able to hold the Chiefs to a field goal.

Shanahan has been on the wrong end of some awful playoff collapses during the last ten years or so. Sunday’s loss cannot really be pinned fully on him, but second-guessers will point to this decision as a moment when he should have done something differently.

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