Stage Fright Will Not Be An Issue For 49ers In Super Bowl
Jose Luis Sanchez III
MIAMI - Lack of playoff experience has been a recurring topic for the 49ers since they they started their playoff run against the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional playoff round.
It is why some fans and media persons alike didn't see the 49ers advancing as far as the Super Bowl. However, what critics of the 49ers' lack of experience fail to realize is that it's an overrated narrative. That topic always gets thrown out there in all sports and always traps people into thinking it is a necessity to have success in the playoffs.
While nerves is not a far-fetched idea, this topic of lack of experience is not as cut and dry as it seems. Context is necessary when deciding whether or not it will be a factor into a team's playoff run.
For the 49ers, stage freight will not be an issue in the Super Bowl.
Look no further than the plethora of high stakes games the 49ers have participated in this season alone. Even if you exclude their last two playoff games, the 49ers are battle hardened in pressurized moments.
However, the Super Bowl is a different beast that could cause some players to feel that strike of stage freight or jitters. But that isn't something defensive tackle DeForest Buckner is worried about for himself or his teammates.
"I feel like everyone gets jitters before every game. After the first play, all those butterflies inside they go away. I think we have a really good team that's been in a lot of high pressured situations throughout the entire season and playing through a lot of primetime games which is really good."
Every game that the 49ers have played from week 10 to now has been a high stakes game. They needed to win almost every game so that the NFC west would not fall into the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, which ended up being decided in the final regular season game. A game that the 49ers won at CenturyLink Field, which they had not claimed victory since 2011. That final regular season game was proof enough that the 49ers were ready for playoff football.
"We came out with a lot of wins this year." Said Buckner. "Coming down to the final possession, knowing certain situations and everything. We won every aspect that you could think of."
Even the shootout win against Drew Brees in New Orleans against the Saints was an intense game. If nerves were an issue with this team, they would not have came on top in that game. They would not have came on top in week 17 against the Seahawks to win the division.
The amount of pressured games that went down to the wire is a testament to this team that they are mentally tough. San Francisco does not get credit for that nor acknowledged that those games have molded them to be ready for the grandest of stages like the Super Bowl.
Wide receivers coach Wes Welker, who knows a thing or two about Super Bowl experience, was also confident in the team's ability to not succumb to jitters.
"Just the preparation. The amount of work we put in the last two weeks and the work we put in all the way back to spring. This didn't just happen in a few weeks or anything like that. This started back in the spring and guys buying in with what we're trying to do here. Just building off that and getting better everyday."
The high stakes games have allowed this team to grow, but like Welker said - they have been preparing dating as far back as OTAs in the spring. Coming from a guy who's been in multiple Super Bowls, the lack of experience was easily minimized. It's more about the experiences from the regular season and the work that has been put in over the last nine months.
Things, of course, could change once the players step onto the field and get caught up in the moment. That is where the leaders of the teams have to step up and bring their teammates back down to earth.
"Just walk up to them and talk to them a little bit, 'It's all good, calm down'. Just depends on what the situations is." Said Buckner, who is a captain of the team.
Jitters, nervousness, stage fright - whatever you want to call it. The San Francisco 49ers will assuredly be ready for this game. There will be no issues of being a victim with the bright lights after the teams has been through it countless times in various situations. And if some players do fall into that nervous rabbit hole, then leaders like DeForest Buckner will be their to uplift his teammates.