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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Opinion: How Super Bowl LVIII broke me as a 49ers fan

Courtesy of Ezra Shaw/Getty Images via TNS photos
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers interacts with Christian McCaffrey (23) prior to Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas.

For a brief moment in overtime, it felt like all the years of playoff pain and suffering from my beloved San Francisco 49ers were about to finally end.

Instead, Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, does what he does to so many teams: snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. Mahomes did this to the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV when he led a 4th quarter comeback, rattling off 21 unanswered points to win 31-20.

I don’t know how long it will take for me to recover from the 49ers’ 25-22 loss in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11, but the pain I felt when I watched Mahomes connect with Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman in the endzone to win the game in overtime was something I’ve never felt as a sports fan.

A night that was supposed to be filled with celebration as the 49ers could’ve won their first Super Bowl of my lifetime instead turned into the most painful sports loss I’ve ever endured.

As a die-hard fan of four sports teams, I’ve had my fair share of heartbreak. From the Golden State Warriors blowing a 3-1 series lead in the 2016 NBA Finals, the San Jose Sharks losing in the 2016 Stanley Cup finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Francisco Giants losing in Game 5 of the 2021 National League Divison Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

All of those were devastating, and it took a long time for me to recover from them.

But none of them compare to what I went through on Sunday night.

I was going through many emotions, but the ones that stood out the most were sadness, anger, confusion and frustration.

Sadness for all the 49ers players who worked so hard to get back to the Super Bowl, anger at Mahomes for being a magician with the football, confusion as to why the football gods make every 49ers playoff loss more painful than the last and frustration since I know how hard it is for teams to get back to the Super Bowl after losing it.

Since 2011, the 49ers have made it to the playoffs seven times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023), have made it to at least the NFC Championship game in all seven appearances, and yet have nothing to show for it. Every time, it felt like it was the year for them to finally break through and win their elusive sixth Super Bowl.

This was supposed to be the year all the stars aligned and the 49ers would bring home their first Lombardi Trophy since 1994 when the team had Hall of Famers, such as wide receiver Jerry Rice, cornerback Deion Sanders, defensive tackle Bryant Young and quarterback Steve Young, who also won NFL MVP that year.

The 1994 team also had a few connections to the current iteration of the 49ers. Current head coach Kyle Shanahan is the son of Mike Shanahan, the offensive coordinator of the 1994 team. Ed McCaffrey, a wide receiver on the 1994 team, is the father of Christian McCaffrey, current 49ers running back and 2023 Offensive Player of the Year.

The 2023 version of the 49ers was arguably the most talented team the franchise has had since 1994. The team had five players make the AP’s first-team all-pro. Fullback Kyle Juszcyzk, tight end George Kittle, left tackle Trent Williams, linebacker Fred Warner and McCaffrey received first-team honors.

Although the season ended in disappointment, this season was so much fun to watch as a 49ers fan, and that makes me excited about the future of this team.

The main reason for that is because of who the 49ers have at quarterback. For the first time since the end of the 2017 season, the 49ers will have zero questions about who the quarterback of the future is with Brock Purdy.

Even after the 2019 season that ended in a 31-20 Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs, there were rumors the team would go after the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, and move on from Jimmy Garoppolo.

Purdy thrived at the end of the 2022 season, but the quarterback position was still unclear as he got hurt in the NFC Championship game against the Eagles. The 49ers still had quarterback Trey Lance, the third overall pick in the 2021 draft and the opening day starter in 2022, which led to a debate during the past offseason about who should be the starter going forward.

Once the 2023 season started, it was obvious the team made the right decision (trading Lance and naming Purdy starter), as Purdy was better than even the most optimistic fans could’ve hoped for. In his first full season starting, Purdy broke the franchise record for most passing yards in a season, throwing for 4,280 yards.

While Purdy didn’t play his best in the 3 playoff games this year, he gave the Niners a chance to win every one of them.

Purdy and some of the other players mentioned above made this season unforgettable and my favorite season as a 49ers fan.

The Super Bowl loss, one where they were one play away from victory, isn’t something that will go away with time.

On the day following the game, I rewatched that play countless times, hoping that the outcome would be different each time I watched. Obviously, nothing changed, and what happened happened.

This type of loss and the heartbreak can only be fixed by one thing: a Super Bowl victory.

The 49ers will be back, and I can’t wait for the day when all the disappointment caused by the past decade-plus of playoff failure comes to an end and they bring home their sixth Super Bowl trophy.

Go Niners!

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  • J

    Jerome SierraFeb 14, 2024 at 7:23 am

    Miami, Buffalo, Baltimore,…join the club!!Mahomes is the man!!!