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Super Bowl LIV: Finding peace in defeat for San Francisco

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Christmas Eve, 2015. As children were tucked in their beds awaiting the joy to come on Christmas Day, I was sat watching Chip Kelly’s 1-13 San Francisco 49ers earn their second victory of the year against the newly christened L.A. Rams.

Then 49ers QB, the ghost of Colin Kaepernick, drove the apathetic Niners offence down the field to tie the game at the death. Kelly and Kaepernick decided to go for two and it paid off. 22-21. Niners win. As Kaepernick crossed the plane with the ball, I remember the sheer elation of victory washing over me. A fan watching at midnight, halfway across the world on Christmas Eve.

Flash forward a few years and instead of watching Kelly and Kaepernick driving down the field to secure a 2-14 record, it’s now Shanahan and Garoppolo – and it’s the game-deciding drive of the Super Bowl.

After a 3rd & 10 near miss on what would be a touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders, which will replay in my mind forever, it’s 4th & 10. I’m still confident, why would I not be? I, along with every other 49ers fan, have seen this team overcome insurmountable odds more than once this season.

Garoppolo in the shotgun. Receives the snap. Drops back to pass. Winds up. Hesitates. Hit. Ball in the turf. Game over.


It says a lot about the character of this 49er team that even when the game was over, I felt that they would come back. Shanahan had one more scheme to conjure up. Garoppolo had one more drive to calmy execute.

But no, it wasn’t meant to be.

That’s how it felt in the 4th quarter. Going against Patrick Mahomes who was battered, bruised and chased all game by this heroic 49ers defence. Mahomes transcended typical quarterback play and seemed to become a force of nature.

Sure, Shanahan could have run the ball a few more times, Garoppolo could have been more poised down the stretch. Hindsight is 20/20.

So, where does San Francisco go from here?


It’s extremely difficult to have sustained, repeated success in the NFL. The socialist structure of the draft and the salary cap demands it be this way. That’s what has made the continued success of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots so impressive over the last twenty years. Even then, Brady and Belichick had to wait ten years between lifting their third and fourth Lombardi’s.

49ers owner Jed York must give Shanahan and Lynch both contract extensions. Underneath the fantastic talent analysis, Shanahan and Lynch have shown a level of chemistry and cooperation that front offices’ around the league have been trying to obtain for decades. I’m looking at you Cleveland.

On the field, Shanahan and Lynch have taken a roster filled with XFL level talent and turned it into a Super Bowl team within three years. For example, the team that beat LA on Christmas Eve boasted a receiver corps of; Aaron Burbridge, Rod Streater, Chris Harper and DeAndre Smelter. A running back room led by Shaun Draughn. The team’s best TE was Garrett Celek.

Anyone who questions whether or not Shanahan has the capabilities to take this team onward and upward should be severely discredited.

As for the 49ers current day roster, John Lynch has no 2nd, 3rd or 4th round draft pick this year, barring any trades of course. Expect to hear and increase of mumblings on Richard Sherman converting to safety as the 49ers look to add a quality corner to the secondary in the draft.

Another point of emphasis for the 49ers will be finding somebody young to replace long and trusted servant Joe Staley at the LT position. Staley, who is nearing the end of his 13-year career had some sombre words at the post-game podium.

“I’m sorry, this is super disappointing. This is very hard being in this moment right now. You put your heart and soul and entire life into trying to be a super bowl champion. You get to the end of your career and you realise how rare these opportunities are.”

Staley’s words remind us all how fleeting these moments are. So it’s important to savour them. This season has been incredibly fun to watch as a 49ers fan. Almost dreamlike. And although, in the end, 49er fans were robbed of the joy of lifting the Lombardi trophy, I’ll always think back to that game on Christmas Eve and smile at how far we’ve come.

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