Kyle Shanahan blew it again

Rashad Milligan

It happened again.

As 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes threw his second interception of the night at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the San Francisco 49ers’ defense ran into the end zone and posed for a Super Bowl portrait.  

All the offense had to do was run the clock out.

The concept of running the game clock out in a championship situation is beyond obvious to everyone except former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Super Bowl LI.

Fast forward three years later, Shanahan is the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and he has the ball in the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead.

The first play of the next drive for San Francisco was a run. Fox color commentator Troy Aikmen said Shanahan would run the clock down for as long as he needed to. Then, the 49ers get a first down on a completed pass. Another run. An incomplete pass. A false start call on the 49ers. A third-down stop for Kansas City as the clock continued to tick to 8:54.

Deja vu.

On the ensuing drive, Travis Kelce scored a touchdown with 6:13 remaining. The score was set up by a big catch from Tyreek Hill to get Kansas City in the red zone. 

Then, the Chiefs defense forced their first three-and-out of the night. Just Shanahan’s luck.

Kansas City had the ball, and the momentum, with 5:10 to go. Mahomes escaped pressure, and got a first down completion to Kelce. 

The camera cut to the nervous John Lynch. 

Another completion for Mahomes and the clock ticked in Kansas City’s favor. The next play, Sammy Watkins beat Richard Sherman to get the Chiefs in the red zone. Then, Mahomes ran out of bounds. With 2:44 to go, the Chiefs took the lead with a touchdown reception from Damien Williams.

The camera cut to Shanahan, who was drawing up his last attempt at magic.

The 49ers ran the ball. Got another false start penalty. A completed pass that ran the clock down into the two-minute warning. A first down pass to continue the drive. A deflected pass, reminiscent of the Matt Ryan strip-fumble in 2017, that fell incomplete. Another pass that was nearly intercepted. An overthrown pass to a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders to bring up fourth-down. Sack.

Ball game.

With a minute and a half remaining, the Chiefs ran the ball. The 49ers called their first timeout. Kansas City ran the ball again, but this time Williams found open field and ran 38 yards for a touchdown.

The final drive of San Francisco's season ended with a Jimmy Garoppolo interception. The Chiefs’ defense celebrated by running to the end zone and posing for a Super Bowl portrait.

Deja vu.

In came the Gatorade bath for Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid and the disappointed faces of 49ers players Falcon fans recognize too well.

After a week of joking about the elephant in the room, Shanahan failed to close the deal once again.

Comments (1)
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Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy


This one didn't quite have the same dreaded feeling of inevitability that I felt as a Falcons fan at 28-12. The 49ers and San Francisco sports in general aren't used to the doom that we are in places like Atlanta and Cleveland.... but I remember Matt Ryan coming off the field during that game and saying "run the #%%ing ball".