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Niners' Kyle Shanahan didn't feel need to discuss new OT rules with players in lead-up to Super Bowl

Two days after the 49ers' 25-22 loss in Super Bowl LVIII, head coach Kyle Shanahan is still facing questions on his decision to receive the ball first in overtime given the new postseason rules.

He's still resolute in his belief he made the right call against the Chiefs.

He likewise feels no regret in choosing not to go over the intricacies of the new OT rules with players in meetings leading up to the big game, instead having position coaches cover those details.

"We told everyone as they were waiting for the coin toss. … We asked the position coaches to do that, but I didn't cover it during a meeting Super Bowl week," Shanahan said during his end-of-year news conference on Tuesday. "I don't think that changes anything. We did it with our analytics department. We decided that going into the playoffs … I think you guys know how I've explained how I make decisions with that stuff in the past. I take all the information I can get, especially ones I haven't been in. Our analytics felt that was the best way to go.

"But as you guys know I don't always just go with that. I take into account what they say, what they think is right and then I go off my gut in the heat of battle. I knew what they felt going into it. When I think about that during the moments I have to make the decision. I think the type of game it was did match what they felt was the best way to do. It did seem more like a field goal game. And our defense had been out there a real long time right before that. So I didn't feel at all to override that at the time."

What occurred in the heat of the battle is now etched forever into Super Bowl lore.

Down three with 1:53 minutes remaining in regulation, the Chiefs marched 64 yards for a game-tying score, leaving just three seconds on the clock to help force the second-ever Super Bowl overtime.

The overtime rules put in place two years ago -- largely in part because of the Chiefs' OT victory over the Bills in the 2021 AFC Divisional Round -- made it so San Francisco and Kansas City would both have a chance to possess the ball regardless of if the first team scored a touchdown (barring a safety or a defensive touchdown).

Only by trading TDs or committing a turnover on the first drive would the game enter sudden death territory.

Given what the Niners' analytics department told Shanahan, as well as the fact that their defense had been able to hold the Chiefs to just one touchdown in the game and also desperately needed a breather, everything lined up to opt to receive after winning the coin toss.

"I believe we just closed an 11-play drive I think that we just closed the game with," general manager John Lynch said in support of the decision. "When you're playing Mahomes, you're chasing him a lot. So there's a lot of effort that's been expended. I think that the context from there is you need some time to get fresh. All those things play into it, and those were sound decisions."

Brock Purdy and Co. provided the defense the rest it needed while taking 13 plays and 7:22 to go 76 yards to Kansas City's 9-yard line, but the offense stalled there and opted for a field goal, which gave the Chiefs a chance to score a TD and end it.

Kansas City did just that with a 13-play drive of its own, a possession that included a fourth-down conversion thanks to knowing exactly what was required.

Shanahan's hope was to end the game on the third possession of overtime. Instead, the Niners never got another chance.

After the fact, whether because of their own impact on the rule's formation or not, Chiefs players revealed Andy Reid had drilled the new wrinkles of playoff overtime into them far in advance.

Meanwhile, 49ers players such as Arik Armstead and Kyle Juszczyk admitted to not knowing the exact format, although Purdy confirmed to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner that quarterbacks coach Brian Griese gave him a refresher on the rules before OT started -- just as Shanahan mentioned.

And like his head coach, Juszczyk doesn't see what difference a larger focus on postseason overtime rules ahead of time would make.

"That changes nothing for me as a player, whatsoever," the fullback told the San Francisco Chronicle's Michael Silver. "If I know the rule or don't know the rule, I'm trying to do the exact same thing on the field. It's just people looking for a way to s--- on (Shanahan)."

The overtime decision not working out, combined with players lacking clarity on the rules, provides ammo to critics of San Francisco's ability to win big games -- especially after a second Super Bowl defeat in five years.

Shanahan doesn't buy into the narrative, pointing out all of the battles the 49ers have won to put themselves a win away from a Lombardi in the first place.

"I mean you'd love to fix perception, because I'd love to win one for what I know about football, and I know if I fix perception that means I did everything I wanted to do, which isn't fix perception, it's win a damn Super Bowl," Shanahan said. "But I also know, when you say big games, we've had to win a bunch of big games to get to Super Bowls. We've won a lot of big games here, we've won a lot of big games to get to the playoffs, the fact that we keep getting there shows you how much we win big games.

"You guys can have any narrative you want, but the success or the failure, it comes down to one game, and I hope that I can be a part of a team that wins one game at the end of the year, but to say the Niners can't win a big game is an extremely inaccurate statement."

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