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Sunday, March 3, 2024

2024 Super Bowl LVIII: NFL legacies on the line in San Francisco 49ers – Kansas City Chiefs rematch for coaches and quarterbacks

LAS VEGAS — Super Bowl LVIII kicked off at 3:30 p.m. PT on Sunday, with the San Francisco 49ers facing the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs. This is a rematch of Super Bowl LIV, after the 2019 season, in which the Chiefs beat the 49ers 31-20.

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This is Kansas City’s fourth appearance in the big game in five years. The last time the 49ers won the Super Bowl was after the 1994 season in Super Bowl XXIX. The 49ers entered the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 1 seed, while the Chiefs were the AFC’s No. 3 seed.

Jake Moody made a Super Bowl-record 55-yard field goal just 12 seconds into the second quarter to put the 49ers on top 3-0. Buffalo’s Steve Christie held the record with a 54-yarder against Dallas in Super Bowl 28. This could be a confidence booster for Moody, who missed field goals in the past two playoff games.

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Kyle Shanahan can finally get past the Super Bowl hurdle and shed the label of a big-game coaching dud. Brock Purdy can go from being Mr. Irrelevant to Super Bowl champion.

For Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, a win in the Super Bowl on Sunday against San Francisco will elevate them to a level reached only by the most accomplished quarterbacks and coaches.

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When the Super Bowl ends Sunday night, either the Chiefs or 49ers will hoist the Lombardi Trophy and the legacies of their quarterbacks and coaches could be transformed.

“I never thought about the word legacy,” Shanahan said this week when asked how this game would impact his following his blown double-digit fourth-quarter leads in his previous trips to the Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator and head coach.

“When I think of legacy, I think of my dad. Even though it doesn’t look like that when I FaceTime time anymore, but I still feel like I’m somewhat young. It just doesn’t really work that way with me. I don’t think that works that way with a lot of people are just in it. You’re just trying to win that game.”

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Reid was in a similar spot to Shanahan before beating him to win his first Super Bowl in his 21st season as a head coach four years ago in Miami.

Reid added another title last season against Philadelphia and now can join Bill Belichick (six), Chuck Noll (four), Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs (three each) as the only coaches with at least three titles.

“As far as the legacy goes, I don’t really think about that,” Reid said. “We’re so tied up in the game and getting ready for the game, that’s where all your energy goes.”

But getting a third in five seasons – and becoming the first team in 19 seasons to go back-to-back – would put Kansas City in the talk for best dynasties in the Super Bowl era.

The only other teams to win three Super Bowls in a span of five seasons or fewer are the 1970s Steelers, the 1990s Cowboys and the Patriots, who did it twice with Belichick and Tom Brady.

“I think the number three is a big number in terms of dynasties and things like that,” tight end Travis Kelce said. “Hopefully we can get this thing and you guys can start talking about dynasties.”

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Mahomes also is in position to join rare company with a third Super Bowl win, joining Tom Brady (seven), Joe Montana (four), Terry Bradshaw (four) and Troy Aikman (three) in that group.

A third Super Bowl title at age 28 will raise the talk about whether Mahomes will have a chance to catch Brady’s record that seemed untouchable just three years when he won his seventh.

“I’m not even close to halfway, so I haven’t put a lot of thought into it,” Mahomes said. “Right now it’s do whatever I can to beat a great 49ers team and try to get that third ring. Then if you ask me that question in 15 years, I’ll see if I can get close to seven, but seven seems like a long ways away still.”

While getting to seven remains in question, there is little doubt that Mahomes will end his career mentioned among the greatest ever at the position no matter what happens on Sunday.

Purdy is looking to join that group of Super Bowl winners and can be the second youngest quarterback ever to do it.

“I think Patrick’s legacy is pretty set,” two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning said. “What he’s done in these first six years in the NFL, making the Super Bowls, making the AFC championship every year as a starter. But an opportunity to win your third Super Bowl as a quarterback, that’s putting you in a different category.

“Brock Purdy, this is a great opportunity for him. … To get a Super Bowl would be huge for him.”

Purdy has had a meteoric rise from the final pick of the 2022 draft to star quarterback for a franchise that employed two of the best to do it in Montana and Steve Young.

A win would let Purdy join those Hall of Famers as the only QBs to lead San Francisco to a title and let him be known more for winning the Super Bowl than his draft status.

“As a quarterback, those are obviously big shoes to fill, and I’m not going to compare myself to them,” Purdy said. “They’ve set the standard for winning, so it definitely makes you think, ‘Let’s step it up and live up to the standard they set.'”

Shanahan has been oh-so-close to the football’s ultimate prize while making a major impact on modern football with his much-copied offensive system and coaching tree of former assistants sprinkled around the league.

Seven years ago as coordinator in Atlanta, the Falcons held a 28-3 lead in the second half against New England before Brady rallied for a 34-28 overtime win that made him and Belichick the all-time leaders in their positions with five Super Bowl wins.

Three years later, Shanahan led the 49ers to the title game as head coach only to blow a 10-point lead to Kansas City in the fourth quarter of a 31-20 loss, delivering Reid and Mahomes their first titles.

A win Sunday could do the same for Shanahan and Purdy, although Shanahan’s focus remains on the details and not his place in the history books.

“I just don’t want regrets,” Shanahan said. “I just want to do everything that makes sense to myself, that makes sense for our team. … No matter how hard something is or good something is, you always keep perspective of what it really is. If you want your perspective to be someone else’s narrative, good luck being happy in life. Or successful.”

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