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Chiefs comeback from ten-point deficit to defeat 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV

The Niners had every opportunity to win this one

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers defense forced a three-and-out to start the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Their speed showed up early, as did Nick Bosa. On the 49ers first possession, we saw a quick throw to George Kittle go for a first down, then Deebo Samuel took an end-around for 32 yards after outrunning the Chiefs to put the Niners in scoring position. A throwback pass to Jimmy Garoppolo was sniffed out by the defense, as was a screen to Raheem Mostert. A Robbie Gould kicked a 38-yard field goal to put the 49ers up 3-0.

The Chiefs took over and marched down the field after Kyle Shanahan elected to decline a penalty on 2nd and 2 to make it 3rd & 2. The Chiefs picked up the first down on the next play and continued to drive down the field after Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce made plays. Mahomes did a nice job of extending plays and buying more time for the receivers to get open. A ten-yard scramble on 3rd & 11 made it 4th & 1, and the Chiefs were always going to go for it. A few plays later, Mahomes found the end zone on an option. The first two scoring drives by both teams were absolute gems by both play-callers. The difference was one team punched it into the end zone while the other settled for a field goal.

The only thing that was going to get in the way of San Francisco scoring was turnovers. Garoppolo was pressured and did a nice job of avoiding the sack, but couldn’t get enough on his throw and made a bad decision which led to an interception. That throw either can’t happen or needs to go into the fifth row of the stands. The 49ers came up with a huge stop to hold the Chiefs to three points. On the drive, Tarvarius Moore played a few snaps as the defense went to their “dime” package. That made it 10-3.

The 49ers had to put points on the board on the next drive. It didn’t take long for the offense to get into Chiefs territory. Raheem Mostert didn’t get his first carry until midway through the second quarter. Mostert’s second carry went for nine yards and a first down; then his third carry went for 11 yards. A nice run by Tevin Coleman, a pass to Deebo, and a 15-yard touchdown drive made it a tie game again. That was the answer the 49ers needed to have. The 49ers averaged 8.1 yards a drive. Again, the only thing that was going to slow this offense down was turnovers.

Or Shanahan.

The score was tied at ten, and the Chiefs were punting with 1:47 left. Shanahan didn’t elect to call a timeout. Why? To ensure that the 49ers had the ball last in the half. He even ran it on the first play of the next possession. This is missing the point of your offense being successful all season, and this game was no different. San Francisco was averaging 8.1 yards per play up to this point. Do you want to keep Mahomes off the field? Of course. You can keep the Chiefs off the field by moving the ball. A 20-yard gain on the first pass of the game to Jeff Wilson proved this. Offensive pass interference on George Kittle after an absolute dime from Jimmy G ended the half.

It wasn’t that the call was bad, but the consistency. They haven’t called that play a penalty all season, so why in the biggest moment of the biggest game? That took us to halftime, where the execution may not have been there, but both coaches called great halves for the most part.

The 49ers marched down the field to start the second half but had to settle for a field goal once again. It was 4th & 2, and it felt like a situation where you go for it. Field goals didn’t feel like they would be enough, and Kanas City had already converted two fourth downs that led to points. For what it’s worth, George Kittle was wide open on the third down that would have led to a first down.

The next possession justified Shanahan’s confidence in his defense. Nick Bosa got a strip-sack on Mahomes, but the quarterback fell on it. That made it 3rd & long, and Fred Warner stepped in front of a pass for an interception. What a turn of events. The 49ers took over on the 45-yard line, and a 16-yard pass play Samuel, followed by two throws to Juszczyk and Kendrick Bourne, put the 49ers in a position to score, and the did just that after Mostert scored. Garoppolo missed Kittle wide open on the second down of the drive, but made several big-time throws. To this point, he was outplaying Mahomes. Don’t tell anyone, though. That score made it 20-10.

The 49ers let a couple of opportunities slip through their fingers to open the fourth quarter. One was an interception from Kwon Alexander. The Niners wouldn’t miss another opportunity, though. Tarvarius Moore’s interception stopped a Chiefs drive that was sure to end in points. What a huge turn of events. Nick Bosa was everywhere on the drive, as was DeForest Buckner. The Niners punted for the first time in the game on the next possession after taking three points off the clock.

The Chiefs answered in dramatic fashion. It was 3rd & 15, and Mahomes hits Hill 44 yards downfield. It was an amazing throw. The Chiefs had another third and long, but Moore never got his head around, and the pass interference put the Chiefs on the one-yard line, and eventually scored a touchdown to make it 20-17. The 49ers offense didn’t answer after throwing it on 2nd & 5. It looked like Garoppolo read the play wrong and had Kittle open again, but no dice. The Chiefs wasted no time scoring again to give them a 24-20 lead. It would come down to the Niners scoring a touchdown. San Francisco took over with 2:44 left. Shanahan will be kicking himself for not running the ball in that situation.

Emmanuel Sanders had a false start, as did Joe Staley earlier in the half. Both loomed largely and put the Niners behind the chains. Do you see the theme? The Chiefs aren’t stopping the 49ers; the 49ers are stopping the 49ers. It came down to 4th & 10, and the pressure didn’t allow Jimmy G to get off a pass. The Chiefs took over at the 49-yard line.