Feb 8, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan during a press conference before Super Bowl LVIII at Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Players Admit To Overtime Confusion

The San Francisco 49ers suffered a heartbreaking defeat in Super Bowl 58. After opening up a double-digit lead in the first half, they were outlasted by the Kansas City Chiefs, losing 25-22 in overtime.

This was the first time that the NFL’s new overtime playoff rules were in effect. The Chiefs took full advantage, as the 49ers received the ball first and managed to only kick a field goal. Even if they had scored a touchdown, the Chiefs would have gotten the ball and a chance to match that score.

After the game, Chiefs players and coaches revealed that they had devised a game plan in case the game went into overtime. No such plan was in place for the 49ers, as several players admitted they didn’t even know there was a rules change.

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“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rule, so it was a surprise to me,” Niners defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. “I didn’t even really know what was going on in terms of that.”

This was only the second Super Bowl to ever go into overtime, but was the first played with the new rules that guaranteed each team would have the ball at least once. That isn’t how regular-season overtime rules work, as the team receiving the ball can score a touchdown to end the game. 

The only way both teams see the ball in a regular season overtime game is the team who gets it first by kicking a field goal or being stopped and scoring no points. After the Buffalo Bills didn’t have a chance to get on the field two years ago in a Divisional matchup against the Chiefs that went into overtime, the rules were changed.

“You know what? I didn’t even realize the playoff rules were different in overtime,” Juszczyk said. “I assume you just want the ball to score a touchdown and win.

“I guess that’s not the case. I don’t totally know the strategy there. We hadn’t talked about it, no.”

Armstead and Juszczyk both said that Kyle Shanahan and his staff discussed different possibilities for potential overtime before the game. But, the players weren’t involved and whatever was discussed amongst the coaches was not talked about with the players.

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The Chiefs were on the polar opposite side when it came to preparation,  as this is something they had worked on for a while. Defensive tackle Chris Jones told reporters the new overtime rules were discussed for two weeks. Safety Justin Reid took things back even further, saying they were preparing in training camp.

“We’ve talked about it all year,” Reid said. “We talked about it in training camp about how the rules were different in regular season versus the playoffs. Every week of the playoffs we talked about the overtime rule.”

That kind of preparation is what could have separated the 49ers and Chiefs in the end. Kansas City was fully aware of what was going on and had a game plan to take advantage of the situation. San Francisco discussed things amongst its coaches but the team, as a whole, didn’t seem to be prepared for what was ahead in overtime.

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