Just four days away from the biggest game of most 49ers players’ lives, the organization from top to bottom will enter Sunday’s big game with the right mindset.
There haven’t been many low moments this season for the 49ers, who finished the regular season with a 13-3 record before cruising to Super Bowl 54. When those forgettable moments do occur, they will always embrace it, never running away from the criticism.
This philosophy starts from the top with head coach Kyle Shanahan. Throughout Super Bowl week, Shanahan has been asked numerous questions about his previous Super Bowl experience, the infamous 28-3 blown lead by the Falcons in Super Bowl 51.
Shanahan has asked why he has not run away from such a low moment in his career:
“Because I don’t think there’s anything to run away from. I’m very proud of that year, I was proud of our team in Atlanta. I was proud of our players, and I thought we played a pretty darn good game. We were up 28-3 in the 4th and we all know that we did not play well in the 4th, didn’t coach well. To sit here and run from something, I’m not going to run from that. I’m very disappointed about losing a 28-3 game, and that was very hard on our entire team. I understand perception wise how much i had to take of that. I think I can deal with that, I’ve been able to, and knowing that has made me a little bit stronger. You don’t always know what you can deal with, and I think it’s always harder for people who love me like my wife and family members, because they’re very defensive of it. I was involved in the game, I know exactly what happened, every single play, and i know i can live with that.”
After Shanahan’s press conference, I asked 49ers tackle, Mike McGlinchey, about Kyle embracing that infamous Super Bowl, and how that can translate to a player:
“It’s how you learn from them, and I think that’s what he does better, making sure things don’t happen ever again. He’s done a great job of learning from that and being dominant as a play-caller since then, and he was in that game. If one thing goes the right way, if protection was busted, and if you look down the field, im sure there was a wide-open receiver that was about to catch a touchdown and end it. You can go both ways on it, obviously it was a very low point but it’s not something that we talk about. But yeah we always embrace the low moments and learn how to get better. That’s how you become great at something.”
The 49ers as a team have always embraced their lowest moments, especially this season. The three heart-breaking losses to the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, and Atlanta Falcons on-top of the many injuries this team has suffered has allowed them to learn from each moment, applying what they learn to the remainder of the season.
So where does that stem from? Does Shanahan lead the charge with this mindset, or have 49ers players adopted this on their own? This is what George Kittle had to say when I asked him about it:
“Yes and no. It’s not something he touches on all of the time with us, but he leads by example, that’s just what he does. He’s not scared, he always tells us to ‘learn from your mistakes and try to get better every single day.’ He’s a guy who definitely leads by example about getting better every single day. How he changes our offense, how it evolves, how it gets better, how it gets more creative. There’s never any gone days with him, he’s the same guy that shows up every single day, and for that it’s really easy to play for him.”
The 49ers are hungry for a Super Bowl title, as is their opponent the Kansas City Chiefs. Having lost a Super Bowl already, Shanahan talked about what the takeaway will be if the 49ers in fact fall short of their goal Sunday:
“Whatever the experience is. There’s always something to take away from it every day. Whoever loses the Super Bowl is going to be very upset, it’s going to take a lot to get over it. If you’re scared of failure and you’re scared of the pain that you’ll feel, then this sport is not for you. I’m just pumped to have the opportunity and we’re going to give it everything we have, but if you come up short it’s going to hurt a lot. We put a lot into it. I’ll take that gamble every time as long as someone gives us the opportunity.”