The Kansas City Chiefs for the third straight game had to comeback from at least a two score deficit and won Super Bowl 54. San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan had to answer questions about why another one of his team collapsed in the Super Bowl.
Jimmy Garoppolo has now been on both sides of epic fourth quarter comebacks in the Super Bowl. San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has been on the wrong side twice. They both have to share the blame for the 49er collapse to the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 54.
Garoppolo of course was sitting on the bench during Super Bowl 51, watching Tom Brady lead the Patriots to their fifth Lombardi trophy and further cementing himself as the greatest of all time.
The Atlanta Falcons were up as much as 28-3 against the Patriots in Super Bowl 51, and by the time the fourth quarter rolled around they still held a 28-9 lead. Instead of running the ball and managing the game, the Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan kept putting the ball in Matt Ryan's hands instead of running out the clock. A fumble, sack, holding penalty, and the greatest catch in the history of the Super Bowl later, Brady and the Patriots won the coin toss in overtime, and James White sealed the deal running in the game winning touchdown.
You had to figure that both Garoppolo and Shanahan both learned a valuable lesson from that game. Apparently they didn't.
Prior to Super Bowl 54, the San Francisco 49ers beat up on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game 37-20. Garoppolo completed six passes for 77 yards. The 49ers got to the Super Bowl on the shoulders of their running backs and their rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel who had 42 yards of rushing in that game. San Francisco put up 285 rushing yards and pounded the 49ers into the Super Bowl.
Garoppolo had a much more productive first, second, and third quarters in Super Bowl 54. The run game was working as well as San Francisco had 141 yards on the ground. Then the fourth quarter came around and Shanahan abandoned all logic, and did exactly what he did in Super Bowl 51. Instead of protecting the 49ers 20-10 lead, Shanahan got away from the run game that got them to the Super Bowl and put the ball in Garoppolo's hands.
Patrick Mahomes threw an interception on back to back possessions, and despite being named Super Bowl MVP he really didn't have a great game. Shanahan didn't take advantage of a wounded giant and Jimmy G turned into Jittery G at the worst possible time.
The 49ers took advantage of one interception and ran and threw the ball effectively and made the Chiefs pay. After the second interception the 49ers threw the ball a lot and they went nowhere. In fact Jimmy Garoppolo had a quarterback rating of 2.8 in the fourth quarter, going 3 for 11 and an interception.
They gave Kansas City a chance and Mahomes made them pay. The Chiefs scored 14 unanswered points in a five minute span and the 49ers watched their lead evaporate. With about two and a half minutes left in the game, Jimmy G had the ball in his hands down 24-20. Garoppolo was able to get the ball out to midfield but no further. The 49ers turned the ball over on downs, the Chiefs scored another touchdown, and Kyle Shanahan has to live with another Super Bowl collapse.
But Shanahan's questionable decision making wasn't just in the fourth quarter. The 49ers defense struggled to defend Mahomes on run option routes and they played a lot of man coverage with no safety help. San Francisco benefited from Mahomes not having a great game and not taking advantage of the match ups the Chiefs had, like he did in the fourth quarter.
Then there's the stupidity at the end of the first half. The 49ers get a stop with about 1:40 left in the half and Shanahan chose not to use a timeout. In fact if not for Andy Reid taking a timeout it appeared Shanahan was content running out the clock and going into halftime tied 10-10. I'm not sure if he was just excited to watch Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, or he didn't trust his offense, but he blew a prime opportunity to double up on the Chiefs and really apply the pressure.
The 49ers scored on the opening possession of the second half, and when you look at the outcome of the game you have to wonder how things could have been different. The most aggressive coach in football decided not to be aggressive when he needed to be. Then he was aggressive when he should have been more conservative. Now he not only gets to live with 28-3, he also gets to live with 20-10. Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl performances as an offensive coordinator and as a head coach should be in textbooks everywhere titled "What not to do"
The 49ers have a somewhat bright future in front of them, but there has to be concerns about going forward with a coach who loses his head every time he's in the Super Bowl, and a quarterback who time and time again this season choked in the big moments. Is the 49ers defense and running backs good enough to overcome these two huge liabilities? It sure looks like they have enough talent, but it's still to be seen if coach Shanahan actually gives them the opportunity to prove it.