When the San Francisco 49ers meet the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, it’ll be the third time Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan has coached in a Super Bowl. The first of those three games, quite famously, saw the Atlanta Falcons — with Shanahan as their offensive coordinator — blow a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots.
According to Shanahan, he is not haunted by that loss.
“No,” Shanahan told NBC Sports, when asked directly by Peter King if the game haunts him to this day. “It hurts. It doesn’t kill you. You understand what happened. You understand you can handle it. You can take it. ‘Haunted’ is just such the wrong word. It makes you stronger, really. But, you know, if you tell me before that game you’re going to blow a 28-3 lead and lose, I’d be like, ‘Do I ever come out of my room again?’ You realize, this is sports. Any one of 20 different plays would’ve changed that game. But I also understand that the quarterback on the other side (Tom Brady) did the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen. He performed surgery for an entire second half.”
Of course, Shanahan saidthe last time he made a Super Bowl, which came back in 2020 when he was the head coach of the 49ers and they played against the Chiefs. Of course, we now know how that game played out: with Shanahan’s team again blowing a double-digit lead and ending up on the losing side. And that game sticks with him more than the Atlanta loss.
“The harder one was the Kansas City game, personally,” Shanahan told NBC. “As you get older and you go through the experience, you just … you try to control everything. You realize you can’t. You also realize you can handle it. And you realize how much you love it.”
Shanahan will now have a third chance to capture a Lombardi Trophy. His 49ers are narrow favorites over the Chiefs, but we have already seen Kansas City win back-to-back games as road underdogs, even after never having previously played a road playoff game during the Patrick Mahomes era. The Chiefs have come from behind to win each of their two Super Bowls during the Mahomes-Andy Reid partnership (they did not stage a comeback in their Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers, however), and Shanahan has let a team come from behind in each of his Super Bowls. We’ll see on Sunday if either of those streaks can be broken.