Kyle Shanahan

Stephen A rips 49ers for not knowing new NFL playoff overtime rule

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In the fallout from the 49ers' crushing 25-22 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII, it has become clear San Francisco wasn't prepared if the game went to overtime, which it inevitably did.

The NFL changed the playoff overtime rule before the 2022 NFL season to ensure both teams would have at least one possession, unless the first drive ended in a safety.

After the loss at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, veteran 49ers players Arik Armstead and Kyle Juszczyk admitted to reporters they were unaware of the overtime rule change, baffling national pundits Monday morning.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith didn't hold back on "First Take" when addressing the 49ers' ignorance on the overtime rule change, directing his ire at coach Kyle Shanahan and 49ers players.

"This particular situation is a smear on the entire organization and let me tell you why," Smith told co-host Shannon Sharpe. "No. 1, you're the coach, Kyle Shanahan. It's your job to make sure you articulate what the situation is, that your players know all the rules that they need to know. That's No. 1.

"No. 2, hold the players accountable. Last time I checked, you can read. You're playing the game. This is your profession. How in god's name are you going to be postgame of the Super Bowl and talk about you aren't even aware of the circumstances of an overtime game when there's a Super Bowl championship on the line. It just goes to show that folks were asleep at the wheel, at least to some degree. They certainly didn't play that way, especially defensively, because I give them a lot of credit where credit is due.

"But nevertheless, you cannot have a situation where you're admitting post-Super Bowl that you didn't even know the rules that pertain to overtime. Overtime is sudden death. Overtime is everything is on the line right now. And it's the Super Bowl championship that's on the line and you are literally saying you weren't aware of it. That is just embarrassing and that is a negligence of duty."

The 49ers won the overtime coin flip and elected to receive the kickoff rather than defer, which ended up biting them in the end.

Under the old NFL overtime playoff rule, if the 49ers had scored a touchdown on that opening possession, the game would have been over. But in light of the Buffalo Bills never possessing the ball in overtime against the Chiefs in their AFC divisional playoff game loss last postseason, the league tweaked the rule to allow both teams to have the ball, even if the team which receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown.

The new rule didn't come into play during the first three rounds of the 2024 NFL playoffs, but the Chiefs made it clear after the game that they had been preparing for the scenario all season and they worked on it during each week of the playoffs.

Armstead and Juszczyk, two 49ers leaders, acknowledged San Francisco didn't take the same path.

San Francisco took the opening possession of overtime and rookie kicker Jake Moody made a 27-yard field goal with 7:22 remaining in overtime.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes got the ball back knowing that all he had to do was score a touchdown to end the game.

With three seconds remaining in overtime, Mahomes found a wide-open Mecole Hardman for the game-winning 3-yard touchdown, sending the 49ers to their second Super Bowl loss in five years and third straight dating back to 2013.

Shanahan and the 49ers rightfully are taking a lot of heat in the aftermath of their Super Bowl loss, and they likely won't hear the end of it until they overcome their playoff demons and bring a championship back to the Bay Area.

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