NFL-Some 49ers unaware of overtime rules in Super Bowl loss

By Thomson Reuters Feb 12, 2024 | 1:29 PM

(Reuters) – The San Francisco 49ers woke up on Monday still stinging from a Super Bowl loss and facing criticism given that some of their players admitted they were not aware of playoff overtime rules that allowed for both teams to possess the ball.

Sunday’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas was only the second to go to overtime and the first to fall under a March 2022 rule change which eliminated the chance of a team winning the game outright on the first possession of the extra period with a touchdown.

“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rule, so it was a surprise to me,” 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead said after the game. “I didn’t even really know what was going on in terms of that.”

After winning the overtime coin toss, the 49ers elected to receive the ball to start the extra frame and marched down the field before settling for a 27-yard field goal and a 22-19 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs.

But the Chiefs responded with a 75-yard drive that Patrick Mahomes capped with a three-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman that secured a 25-22 victory.

In the regular season, if the team that gets the ball first in overtime scores a touchdown on the opening possession, they win.

“You know what? I didn’t even realize the playoff rules were different in overtime. I assume you just want the ball to score a touchdown and win,” 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk said in an ESPN report. “I guess that’s not the case. I don’t totally know the strategy there. We hadn’t talked about it, no.”

The NFL’s overtime rules came under fire in January 2022 after the Buffalo Bills’ high-powered offense never got a chance to touch the ball in the extra period of their crushing playoff loss to the Chiefs.

At the time, if a team kicked a field goal on the first possession of overtime, their opponent got a possession and could win the game with a touchdown or tie it with a field goal. If both teams got field goals, then the next team to score wins.

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan said that he and his analytics team discussed overtime possibilities ahead of the Super Bowl.

Members of the Chiefs, including head coach Andy Reid, said after the game their analytics showed it was better to kick off in overtime so that if both teams matched and scored, they would have a chance to win outright on the next possession.

“He’s a pretty smart guy, so there’s gotta be a reason why he (chose to receive the ball first),” Reid said of Shanahan.

“Everybody’s got their own philosophy on it. I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong; we felt that you (should) kick off first, but that’s neither here nor there. That’s what we think, but, listen, the guy’s a great football coach.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Jonathan Oatis)