The 49ers’ bizarre OT coin toss decision hits them again in the 2024 Super Bowl

LAS VEGAS – After winning the overtime coin toss in Super Bowl LVIII, no one could make up their minds about the 49ers’ decision.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan made the controversial decision on Sunday to start overtime on offense, even though new NFL playoff rules ensure both teams have at least one possession.

After the 49ers kicked a game-winning field goal, the Chiefs responded with a walk-off touchdown to claim a 25-22 win at Allegiant Stadium.

Shanahan explained that after the winning coin toss, he thought several plays ahead, hoping for a possible third possession in overtime when the game became sudden death.

“None of us have much experience with this,” Shanahan said. “We went through all the analytics and talked to these people. We decided it would be better to get the ball because if both teams were tied and scoring, we wanted to be the ones with a chance to win the ball.”

NFL regular season overtime rules only allow both teams a possession if the first team fails to score a touchdown. Therefore, winners of the coin toss almost always choose to receive the kickoff for a chance to end the game.

Referee Bill Vinovich conducts the coin toss before overtime as Fred Warner of the San Francisco 49ers and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs look on. REUTERS

But the overtime rules are more like the college football model, where the reward for playing defense first is knowing exactly how many points your team needs on the second possession to tie or to win the game.

“We hit that field goal. We knew we had to limit them to at least one field goal,” Shanahan said. “If we did that, we thought it would be in our hands afterward.”

Andy Reid said the Chiefs’ plan is to toast if they win the coin toss.

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“I’m not sure there’s a right answer,” Reid said. “I will never question Kyle.”

Several 49ers admitted they weren’t even aware of the new overtime rules, implemented after an epic back-and-forth playoff game in the 2021 season when the Bills’ Josh Allen threw a touchdown pass with 13 seconds left threw stayed in the fourth quarter and never touched the ball again.

Just as he broke the 49ers’ hearts on Sunday, Mahomes also broke the Bills’ hearts, scoring a field goal and a touchdown on their only possession in overtime during the regular season.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan leaves the field after losing the 2024 Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

CBS analyst Tony Romo and several others

“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rules,” defensive tackle Arik Armstead said. “It was a surprise for me. I didn’t even know what was going on with it. They put it on the scoreboard and everyone said, “Even if we score, they’ll have a chance.” ”

The only other overtime game in Super Bowl history ended on the first possession, as Tom Brady engineered a 25-point second-half comeback for the Patriots against the Falcons, ending the 2016 season.

Shanahan was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator in that game.


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Matthew Collins

Sports storyteller. Capturing the triumphs and tribulations of athletes, inspiring readers worldwide.

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