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49ers

Mahomes, Chiefs rally late to win Super Bowl LIV

Saskia Hatvany

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Miami – Three late touchdowns in the fourth quarter by the Kansas City Chiefs stunned the Forty-Niners in what was the best comeback victory in Super Bowl history.  The 49ers defense smothered the Chiefs offense in the third quarter, shut down in the fourth San Francisco appeared to have celebrated too soon.

Crucial mistakes this time proved costly as the 49ers suffered a tough 31-20 loss to Kansas City who are now the Super Bowl Champs for the first time in 50 years.  Patrick Mahomes was named the MVP after leading his team to victory. 

“I just tried to fight, and obviously the third quarter didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” said Maohmes.  “I tried to force some things and had some turnovers.  I mean, that’s a really good defense, and so I didn’t play to my liking in that third quarter, but guys believed in me and gave me confidence.  We kept fighting and we found ways to win it in the end.”

San Francisco had a good lead to start the second half.  But the Chiefs are known for their epic comebacks late in the game.  With 6:30 left on the clock, a pass interference called on Tarvarius Moore came after Mahomes went deep to Travis Kelce on a 43 yards pass.

That setup Kelce’s 1-yard touchdown making it a 20-17 game.  Unable to score on the next drive, Kansas City scored their second touchdown, Mahomes connected with Damien Williams for a 5-yard touchdown, that play gave the Chiefs their first lead of the night.  At the two-minute warning the 49ers had a chance to turn things around, but three incomplete passes followed with a sack on Jimmy Garoppolo on 4th down.

Kansas City got the ball back, Williams rushed for 4 yards before Kyle Shanahan took a timeout.  Williams then rushed for a 38-yard touchdown to secure the Chiefs win.  San Francisco’s offense and defense collapsed in the fourth quarter leaving the team dejected as Kansas City began to celebrate. 

“I think the turning point was when we got a turnover and then we didn’t execute on offense and they got the ball right back and drove 87 yards or however how far it was,” TE George Kittle said.  “As an offense, we have to end the game right there, and we didn’t.”

Garoppolo threw his second interception to end the game.  The 49ers registered two interceptions on the night, with Fred Warner and Moore each but against a dominant Chiefs defense it just wasn’t enough.  San Francisco finished the 2019 postseason with 5 interceptions, which is tied for the 4th most in a single postseason in franchise history.

The 49ers seemed to have everything under control until the six-minute mark in the fourth quarter.  Both teams scored and kicked a field goal to end the half tied at 10-10.  After Samuel rushed for 32 yards, Robbie Gould kicked a 38-yard field goal for a quick 3-0 lead.  

Mahomes scrambled for 2 yards in the red zone, then rushed in for a 1-yard touchdown making it a 7-3 game. By the second, Garoppolo’s pass intended for Samuel was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland.  That setup Harrison Butker’s 31-yard field goal to extend the Chiefs lead to 10-3.  

Garoppolo then connected with Samuel for 16 yards before San Francisco went to the running game, Raheem Mostert rushed for 11 yards and Tevin Coleman rushed for 17 yards.  Garoppolo found a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk who rushed into the end zone for 15-yard touchdown to tie the game 10-10.

To start the third Gould kicked a 42-yard field goal giving the 49ers a 13-10 lead.  After Mahomes pass was blocked by Nick Bosa, who almost forced a fumble, Mahomes went deep to Tyreek Hill but his pass was intercepted by Warner.  That setup Mostert’s 1-yard touchdown extending their lead 20-10.  San Francisco did not score again after that play.

“It definitely hurts, FB Juszczyk said.  “At the end of the day, that’s exactly the position we wanted to be in.  So, I think that makes it hurt a little bit more, but you couldn’t have asked to be in a better situation.”

Before the game, there was an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant and those who lost their lives in the helicopter crash last Sunday.  Both NFL teams lined up on the 24 yard line to honor all nine victims killed in that crash that included NBA great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant.  The NFL also honored their own, Hall of Famer Chris Dolan who lost his battle with Cancer.

Photos by Malaika Bobino

 

The NFL then honored 100 years in football with the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game along with defense, offense, coaches, dynasty teams and those who you might not remember but made an impact as well.

 

 

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The 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl after dominating the Packers 37-20

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Santa Clara – The 49ers have punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.  After a dominating first half, it was clear only one team showed up to play.  Raheem Mostert scored four touchdowns, San Francisco’s defense forced three turnovers and Richard Sherman’s interception in the final minutes was the icing on the cake.  The running game was unstoppable and the reward, a trip to Miami for Super Bowl Fifty-Four.

“Still surreal. You know, I just — I can’t believe that I’m in this position right now and I did the things that I did tonight,” said Mostert.  “And I would like to thank God first and foremost for blessing not only myself but everybody in the organization to be in the position that we’re in, to get the win and to move on to Miami, my home state.  And I can’t believe it.  I’m still being able to play at my home state.  This is so surreal right now.”

The 49ers 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers was well deserved.  A phenomenal season where the team went undefeated through eight games before they recorded their first lost to the Seattle Seahawks.  Now, they return to the Super Bowl after a rebuilding period during the Jim Harbaugh years.  Harbaugh took San Francisco to the Super Bowl back in 2012 where he lost 34-31 to his brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens. 

“This is like everybody coming to work,” T Joe Staley said.  “The attitude that everybody has every single day.  There are no egos.  Everybody generally pulls for each other.  No one cares about what credit that they get. [49ers QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] doesn’t care if he throws for 300 yards or what did he pass today for 50-60?  He doesn’t care and same with the running backs.  [49ers TE George] Kittle is a superstar and he could care less about his stats.  Top to bottom everybody just wants to pull for each other and win.  It is just a special bunch.”

A special bunch indeed, the chemistry on this team began in preseason and became stronger with each game.  Almost every game, the team gave it their all.  Tonight, the offense rushed for 285 yards and 4 touchdowns on 42 attempts.  The team’s 285 total rushing yards were the second most in postseason franchise history, and the 6th most by any team in the postseason since 1970.  

Mostert finished with 29 carries for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns, marking the first postseason rushing touchdowns of his career.  Mostert 220 rushing yards, set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a game, regular season or postseason.  HIs 220 rushing yards are the 2nd most in a postseason game in the Super Bowl era [LA Rams running back Eric Dickerson – 248 yards vs Dallas Cowboys (1/4/86 – NFC Divisional game)] and his 4 rushing touchdown are tied for 2nd most in a Super Bowl era.

“The lanes that we saw and the way he was running, just wanted to keep feeding him,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. Raheem is not someone who is going to come up and tell me a bunch during the game. I know he was feeling it and it wasn’t too hard to see.”

The 49ers got off to a rocky start after going with their running game on opening drive.  Tevin Coleman had 5 attempts for 17 yards but the Packers forced them to punt.  On the next drive, the 49ers went with their passing game before Jimmy Garoppolo handed off a pass to Mostert for a 36-yard touchdown.  Green Bay’s offense completely collapsed in the first, Nick Bosa recorded the first sack on Aaron Rodgers. 

“Not getting that first third down didn’t quite help for sure,” Rodgers said. “We just weren’t very consistent in the first half. I made a couple of mistakes, personally, that hurt us. We kind of let it get away from us.”

[On the botched snap] “It didn’t help. We could’ve cut that to two scores there at a minimum. It was like the fourth down snap the first time we played them. It was a big turning point.”

DeForest Buckner recovered Rodgers fumble and that led to Robbie Gould’s second field goal making it a 20-0 game to start the second quarter.  Another turnover proved costly for Green Bay.  Rodgers pass was intended for Geronimo Allison, but Emmanuel Mosley intercepted the ball.  With 50 seconds left on the clock, Mostert rushed for an 18-yard touchdown to end the half with the 49ers leading 27-0.

By the third, the Packers came alive with Rodgers connecting with Aaron Jones for a 9-yard touchdown.  Jones also rushed up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown giving Green Bay another scored run.  Rodgers then went deep in the fourth to Jimmy Graham for a 43-yard touchdown making it a 34-20 game.  But Green Bay couldn’t stop Mostert’s fourth touchdown  that extended San Francisco’s lead 34-7.  And Gould’s 42-yard field goal was the final score to cap off an outstanding victory.

“I think you go back to OTAs, man,” Said Buckner.  We all knew we could be a special group, a special team this year.  And just seeing the guys work, work through a lot of things from OTAs, to training camp and preseason.  The guys just fed off of each other, you know what I mean?  Offense, defense special teams, everybody.  We’ve got a lot of selfless guys playing for each other.  That’s the key ingredient being able to play for your brother next to you, no matter what happens.  Doesn’t matter who gets the stats or anything.  We’re just trying to go out there and win football games and I think we have a really special group.”

“Yeah, I mean we keep it fun,” Sherman said.  “We keep it loose.  There were a few people that came in our locker room for the first time throughout the week and they were like, ‘Man, this is the loosest locker room.’ You would think this is a winning team.  But, that’s the difference. That’s the difference when you’re confident, when you know what you’re playing for, when you know what you’re doing, when you’re locked in.  

You don’t have to sit there serious and worry and sit there with anxiety.  You can enjoy, let your hair down because you know you’re putting the work in.  You put the work in every single day and you’re prepared.  Now, when you’re not prepared and you’re nervous, you sit there locked in, quiet.  No music in the locker room.  Let’s be locked in.  But, that’s not our team.  We have a bunch of guys who enjoy this game and play it in a way that brings us a lot of joy, the receiving corps especially.  They’re a fun group and they’re enjoying the ride, but they’re still locked in.  They’re making huge plays.”

Super Bowl LIV is set for February 2, 2020 at 3:30 pm PST at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

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49ers advance to NFC Championship after defeating the Vikings 27-10

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The road to the Super Bowl continues for the 49ers, the confidence of this team is unwavering.  Their first appearance in the playoffs since 2013 and the they did not disappoint.  Tevin Coleman recorded two touchdowns while Richard Sherman notched his first playoff interception with the team that led to a touchdown.

“First playoff game of my career, to get the win and keep playing to extend our season.  It was a crazy game and the atmosphere was wild, I’m excited to be apart of it,” said Arik Armstead.  “We were playing good the whole game, they got us early with a touchdown.  We just locked in.  We knew they wanted to do which was run the ball.  It starts with that, stopping the run.  We did a good job of that, I saw they had twenty something rushing yards.”

San Francisco’s 27-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings advanced them to the NFC Championship game next Sunday.  One game away from the Super Bowl and this young team is ready.  On opening drive, Jimmy Garoppolo found Emmanuel Sanders for 22, 11 and 11 yards.  Then Garoppolo connected with George Kittle for another 11 yards, that setup Garoppolo’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne for a 7-0 lead.  

On the next drive a pass interference call gave Minnesota an easy first down.  Kirk Cousins went deep to Stefon Diggs for a 41-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.  After that play, it became a defensive game leaving both teams with one touchdown each to start the second quarter.   A crucial error by the 49ers came in the second.  

Deebo Samuel got tackled and fumbled the ball in the process.  After further review, the call was overturned when the replay showed his knee was down.  Garoppolo connected with Samuel for 18 yards, to setup Coleman’s 1 yard touchdown to extend their lead 14-7.  Coleman rushed for 102 yards with 22 attempts and two touchdowns for the day.

“We’re one game away from getting to the Super Bowl and two games away from being the Champs, the only thing on my mind is to keep stacking these wins” Sanders said.  “We were able to run the ball, we ran it 47 times and to be able to do that and be successful feels good.”

The Vikings unable to contain San Francisco’s offense, got lucky when Garoppolo’s pass intended for Samuel was intercepted by Eric Kendricks.  Minnesota struggled to get into the end zone, therefore settled for Dan Bailey’s 39-yard field goal to make it a 17-10 game to end the half.  Cousins was sacked a total of six times by the 49ers defense.

“We were beating ourselves,” said DT Jaleel Johnson.  “We just weren’t getting to the ball and once we got there, we had too many missed tackles.

His knee was down (regarding Samuel’s fumble), so if anything it gave us another opportunity.  We had some momentum after something like that.  When you’re on the road and it was so close to being a turnover, we needed to capitalize on that and suck the air out of the building.  We didn’t and they were able to convert and keep the ball going.”

By the third, the 49ers took over the game by forcing more turnovers for Minnesota.  Robbie Gould kicked a 35-yard field goal to extend their lead 17-10.  Cousins pass intended for Adam Thielen was intercepted by Richard Sherman.  There was a flag on the play for unnecessary roughness and that pushed San Francisco back 15 yards.  No worries, Coleman rushed into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown making it a 24-10 game. 

“It was completely my fault,” Thielen said.  “I didn’t cross his face and obviously Cousins trusted me to win on that route and make a play on the ball.  I didn’t do that.”

Another crucial error proved costly for the Vikings.  Mitch Wishnowsky punted 54 yards to the Vikings 20.  Marcus Sherels muffed the catch and Raheem Mostert recovered the ball to end the third quarter.  That was a huge break for the 49ers who dominated on both sides of the ball in the second half.  Gould kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend their lead 27-10.

“I think the emotion is probably the same for the fans as it is for the players,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said.  “When you get guys back (DL Dee Ford, LB Kwon Alexander, and S Jaquiski Tartt) who are really good players and made an impact all year, everyone is a lot more excited.  The more players you have out there, the better chance you have.  Starting with the rush with Dee Ford out there, just getting off the ball, whether he’s doing it or the other guys do it, the speed.  Having Kwon out there.  The times I’m looking up watching him, the way he flew around, made some plays on the screens.  Even when he flew and missed the guy on the screen, he makes the back have to come to a complete stop and cut back the other way, then our pass rushers can get there.  Tartt back there.  Tartt has been great for us when he’s been out there.  I knew it took him some time to get back with the injury that he had, but from what I saw, he played very well today.  I’m pumped to have him next week playing.

“The Bye Week helped the most.  None of those guys would have been available last week.  So, it was perfect to give them the week that they had, so their first game back was now.  I think they all got out of it, from what I know of, pretty clean and should be ready to go again next week.”

San Francisco improved to 5-1 against Minnesota in postseason play, with each game coming in the Divisional Round.  The 49ers also advanced to their 14th Conference Championship game since 1980.  The defense held the Vikings to 147 total net yards, which are the fewest allowed in a postseason game in franchise history.  The 21 rushing yards allowed by the 49ers defense is the fewest allowed in postseason game in franchise history.

“I mean, honestly on defense you just keep going next play,” said Sherman.  “I don’t know if it broke them or not.  Our team, we’ve got a good offense. [Head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] calls a heck of a game.  We just try to worry about things we can control on defense.  Going out there, getting another shot.  Honestly it was nice to get the touchdown, but we’re just ready for our next snap.”

“Yes, really exciting,” T Joe Staley said.  “Today was a big step.  We had a great plan coming in, we executed it really well.  I am excited to have the opportunity to play in the NFC Championship game.  I was excited coming into the locker room after the game, because the guys were excited that we won, but no one was really celebrating.  We realize how special this team is and what we can to do this year.  Guys are really excited and focused and we are moving on.”

The NFC Championship game will be held at Levi’s Stadium next Sunday, January 19th at 3:40 pm PST.

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