Before the rise of the Patriots dynasty, it was the 49ers that were the dominant team in the NFL for more than a decade. They dominated in the 1980s and early 90s, and for a small minute on Sunday, I allowed myself to dream of what might come: another Super Bowl victory. This would have put the 49ers back on par with the Steelers and Patriots, both of which have six titles; instead, I am like the fans of the 31 other NFL teams, just waiting till next year.
When Tarvarius Moore picked off Patrick Mahomes early in the fourth quarter, I texted my group of friends and said, “just keep giving it to Mostert.” Instead, I sat there stunned as the 49ers abandoned the run, the very thing that had powered them through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. The Niners’ offensive line was allowing their running backs to rip off six yards per carry, and instead, Head Coach Kyle Shannahan outthought himself and tried to get fancy, and the offense had two quick, ineffective possessions, allowing the Chiefs to build the momentum needed to make their fourth-quarter comeback.
Even after the Niners’ 20-10 lead was now 24-20 in favor of Kansas City, I did not lose hope. I had seen Jimmy G lead the team back on the road in New Orleans, overcome the Rams late in the season and defeat the Seahawks in Seattle for the first time in 11 tries. I still had faith.
Once again the drive began on the ground and things were looking great but after a batted pass and a good defensive play by the Chiefs, doubt crept in for the first time. Then came the third-down play and the deep pass to Emmanuel Sanders. The play was not initially shown in slow motion but to every 49er fan out there, those 2.5 seconds seemed to play out as single frames of a movie. I saw Sanders behind the defense and then the ball entered the top of the screen. I found the spot on the field the ball was going to land and relocated Sanders. I just knew he was going to have that one extra gear to make up that little distance and snag that ball to become the first Super Bowl hero of the 2020s, but this was not fate for the 49ers. The ball dropped hit the turf, and, as it did, the hearts of so many of its faithful fans dropped too.
After not losing in any of their first five Super Bowl appearances, the 49ers have now lost their last two. The journey to get there can always be great, but these championships and Super Bowls are the games that stick with you, as a player and also as a fan. Not just because it was a championship game, but because these opportunities don’t come around often. You never know when your team will have another chance to win it all.
Written by: Danny Barnts