One of the biggest talking points in the aftermath of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII was Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan’s decision to take the ball first in the overtime period. Shanahan explained his decision Sunday night, stating that he and the rest of the Niners’ coaching staff talked about it and decided that it would be beneficial to take the ball first because, in the event of a tie game after each team had their first drive of the extra period, the Niners would be the first team to get the ball in sudden-death.
Of course, we know that things didn’t turn out that way. San Francisco drove down the field and kicked a field goal to take a three-point lead, and then Kansas City came right back and scored the game-winning touchdown, with Patrick Mahomes finding Mecole Hardman wide open in the flat for the clinching score.
But here’s the other thing: Even if the Niners had scored a touchdown on their opening drive, they weren’t going to get the ball back in a sudden-death situation. According to Mahomes, if San Francisco opened overtime with a touchdown and then Kansas City scored one of its own, the Chiefs planned to go for two to try to win the game right then and there.
“I don’t know if Coach Reid wants me telling everybody, but we would’ve went for two for sure,” he said on SportsCenter.
That echoes what Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones said after the game. “We talked through this for two weeks,” Jones said. “How we was going to give the ball to the opponent; if they scored, we was going for two at the end of the game. We rehearsed it.”
The 49ers apparently did not talk through their plan, as several players appeared wholly unaware after the game of the new playoff overtime rules. Obviously, the Chiefs were better-prepared for the situation, and they also had an answer for San Francisco’s strategic gambit of taking the ball first, if things had played out the way the Niners envisioned.