LAS VEGAS – There was math behind the 49ers’ decision to take the ball first in overtime, but the numbers didn’t end up working in San Francisco’s favor.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan denied the team didn’t know the overtime rules — which several players said postgame — included both teams having a chance with the ball regardless of the outcome of the initial receiving team’s first drive in the extra session.
“This is something we talked about with, you know that none of us have a ton of experience of it but we went through all the analytics and talked with those guys and we just thought it would be better, we just wanted the ball third,” Shanahan said. “If both teams matched and scored, we wanted to be the ones who had the chance to go in. We got that field goal, so we knew we had to hold them to at least a field goal. And if we did then we thought it was in our hands after that.”
Defensive tackle Arik Armstead was one of the players who said he was unaware the sudden death aspect of overtime didn’t kick in until both teams possessed the ball.
“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rule, so it was a surprise to me,” Armstead said. “I didn’t even really know what was going on in terms of that.”
Captain Fred Warner won the overtime toss and the 49ers’ linebacker said the team wanted to receive the kick. Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said players couldn’t believe San Francisco opted to take the ball first. He doubted the 49ers thought through the rules in OT that differ from the regular season, when a touchdown on the opening drive of overtime ends the game, but a field goal affords the opponent one possession.
“They’re crazy, they’re crazy,” Jones said. “Because the overtime rules has changed where both teams get the ball no matter who scores. So, originally, you want to let the other team get the ball, stop them holding the three, so you know what you got. Or if you stop them, they punt it, then all you have to do is kick three.”
After a stop and 49ers kicker Jake Moody punching in a field goal to open the overtime scoring and stake San Francisco to a 22-19 lead, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ended the game with a walk-off TD pass to Mecole Hardman.
“I was speechless,” 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa said. “I couldn’t really look anybody in the eye, especially all my teammates. I could have done more. Everybody could have done more. And there’s really not much to say at this point. It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to hit in waves, but that’s life.”
–Field Level Media
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