O’Neil: 3 things Seahawks fans can take from 49ers’ Super Bowl loss
Just because the Seahawks didn’t play in Sunday’s Super Bowl doesn’t mean there’s nothing they can take away from the game.
Here’s a list of what we learned from watching the Seahawks’ divisional rival lose to the Kansas City Chiefs:
1) Quarterback is what matters most in this league.
The 49ers allowed the second-fewest yards in the league during the regular season, their ground game averaged more than 6 yards per carry in Sunday’s Super Bowl and they held a 10-point lead in the final period. So how in the world did they lose? Well, quarterback.
Patrick Mahomes played three quarters of below-average football before turning it on in the fourth quarter while Jimmy Garoppolo did everything that San Francisco asked of him in the first three quarters but was unable to do much in the fourth when his team needed him most.
Garoppolo was 3-for-11 passing in the fourth quarter for 36 yards. He was intercepted, but that came after the game was pretty much decided, which was fitting because it wasn’t a mistake the 49ers made that decided this game, but plays they didn’t. And on two pivotal plays, Garoppolo didn’t even get a throw off, scrambling for 3 yards on third-and-14 with just under 10 minutes to go and getting sacked on fourth-and-10 when San Francisco trailed by four points in the final 2 minutes.
2) Scared money don’t make none.
The Chiefs were stopped on third-and-14 with 1 minute, 53 seconds left in the first half and facing a punt when the 49ers didn’t use a timeout, despite having all three available. It showed that 49er coach Kyle Shanahan was so concerned about the Chiefs getting another possession that he was almost conceding his team’s chances of scoring. San Francisco had the ball on its 20 with 59 seconds and ran the ball on first down, taking the clock under 30 seconds.
OK. Fine. You can defend that by pointing to the fact the score was tied, Kansas City’s offense is potent and the 49ers were going to get the ball to start the second half. However, it’s impossible to reconcile that play-calling with what Shanahan did in the fourth quarter when his team had a lead and was passing more often than it was running it.
To summarize: Shanahan didn’t trust his quarterback to get first downs to end the first half when the game was tied, but though it was better to have him throw in the fourth quarter with a lead when running the ball would have shortened the game.
3) Double-digit deficits aren’t that big of a handicap.
The Kansas City Chiefs trailed by 10 points or more in each of their three postseason games this season, including falling behind 24-0 to the Houston Texans in the divisional round, proving that it isn’t necessarily how you start that determines the outcome of the game even if the start is unbelievably putrid.
Seattle knows a little something about bad starts in the playoffs. They have played on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs five times in Pete Carroll’s 10 seasons as head coach, and in those five games they have been outscored 112-13 in the first half. That makes comebacks difficult, but as Kansas City showed this year, maybe not impossible.