The San Francisco 49ers had many opportunities to put the Kansas City Chiefs away by going up multiple scores in the second half of Super LVIII, but they couldn’t do it, going three-and-out on their three drives in the third quarter.
That, of course, meant the inevitable: Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs rallied for another comeback victory against the 49ers in the big game, leaving San Francisco thinking again about what it could have done differently for the second time in five years after losing 25-22 in overtime.
“Yeah, obviously it sucks man,” 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy said postgame when asked about losing the Super Bowl, via NBC Sports. “You want to win it for that kind of guy [head coach Kyle Shanahan]. He’s a great coach. Everyone wants to go to war with that guy. The way he handles himself and carries himself, we all just want to win for him. Obviously, the older guys, the vets. Trent Williams, Arik Armstead and all the guys that have been through it, man, you want to win for them.
“It starts with Coach, man. That’s who I hurt for,” Purdy continued. “I hurt for all the other guys. Our whole team. What we have been through the last year hasn’t been easy, and for it to go like that, close at the end, it’s tough. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.”
Purdy, who was the third-youngest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history (24 years, 46 days), didn’t play poorly as he completed 23 of his 38 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown. However, he just couldn’t quite make a couple key, game-changing plays when the 49ers needed them, facing critical third downs on their final two drives of the game.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who became the first coordinator ever to win four Super Bowls, blitzed Purdy on each of San Francisco’s last third-down plays of its final two possessions, which forced incompletions on both of those throws. In the Super Bowl aftermath, Purdy was very aware at how costly those incompletions were, particularly his last throw of the game in overtime.
“They brought [Cover] Zero [pure man coverage with no deep safety because of the blitz], and I was trying to get the ball to JJ [Jauan Jennings],” Purdy said postgame, via KNBR, when asked about his incompletion on third-and-4 at the Chiefs’ 9-yard line in overtime. “That’s what hurt me … Their offense is really good. Mahomes is really good, and you just don’t want to give them an opportunity to go down and win the game off a touchdown. When I wasn’t able to connect with him [Jennings] it hurt.”
For most of the night, Purdy stood tall against Spagnuolo’s designed pressure, completing 10 of his 13 passes against the blitz on first and second down. However, third down, aka the money down, was a different story. He completed just two of his six throws on third down when blitzed, including just one of four when Spags blitzed defensive backs on those plays.
Purdy vs. Chiefs blitz
* 1 of 4 vs. DB blitz on third down (2 of 2 on first and second down)
Spagnuolo’s pressure defenses helped hand Tom Brady and the 18-1 New England Patriots a Super Bowl defeat in the 2007, Shanahan’s 49ers a Super Bowl loss in the 2019 season and Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles a narrow case of Super Bowl sadness just like Purdy’s 2023 Niners.
Now Purdy and Shanahan have to go back to the drawing board this offseason with the hopes another return trip doesn’t take five more years.