The San Francisco 49ers have been trying to return to the Super Bowl since losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020.
After missing a chance to make it to football’s biggest event last season — partially due to untimely injuries that hampered the offense in the NFC Championship Game — the 49ers made their way back to the pinnacle and have a chance to win their sixth Super Bowl, tying the NFL record.
And once again, Kansas City stands in the way.
“We’re just getting ready for this game,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media Wednesday night. “I don’t think last Super Bowl has anything to do with this game, just like last week doesn’t have anything to do with this game.”
The 49ers have a few players remaining from the squad that lost Super Bowl LVI, and Shanahan is encouraging them to share their experiences with the younger players to help them prepare for their first appearances in the big game.
“They can talk to the younger guys who are coming now and kind of tell them how they felt at the time and how you feel after,” Shanahan explained. “… It’s cool when people have gone through that. People tend to listen more.”
Shanahan, the son of three-time Super Bowl champion Mike Shanahan, has been able to win games with the 49ers but has yet to win a title himself. While it always remains the ultimate goal, he is not giving any extra thought to his legacy this week.
“You’re just trying to win that game, and that game is always the next one. Finally, we’re in a game where this is the last one of the year, and those are the ones that count. … You understand that. You’re aware of that, but that’s stuff that you don’t really have time to spend thinking about. Hopefully, when the game’s over, you can sit back and think about that stuff and enjoy it.”
Still, his players want to get him the championship, whether it’s for his legacy or just achieving the team’s ultimate goal.
“It’s nothing that I’ve thought about,” tight end George Kittle said. “I want to win for Kyle just because I’ve been with him for seven years. I love how he attacks the game of football. I love his unrelenting pursuit of winning. … I love this team, I love its legacy, and I want to have that.”
Regardless of how the team finishes on Sunday, San Francisco got over the hump this season after back-to-back NFC championship losses.
“This has been something we’ve been trying to get to,” Kittle added. “We’ve been to two NFC Championships before this and lost. It’s like, ‘Well, what do we have to do to get over the hump?’ We finally won that game, and now it’s like, ‘Ok, what are you going to do to win this game?'”