49ers’ Super Bowl loss to Chiefs four years ago driving players in different ways

LAS VEGAS — Nick Bosa has forced himself to watch the replay of his first appearance in a Super Bowl, even though it hurt to do so.  

The San Francisco 49ers edge rusher was a rookie in February 2020 when his team opened up a 10-point lead over the Kansas City Chiefs, before ultimately falling victim to a Patrick Mahomes-inspired comeback. 

Bosa remembers a lot about the occasion in Miami. He often reflects on key plays and significant moments, and like most competitors, feels in his heart that everything might have been different if not for a couple of plays that went the Chief’s way. 

“Very thin margins,” Bosa told FOX Sports this week. “There are a lot of moments that you think back to, that kind of get stuck in your brain. What would have happened if I went with this rush here or did that differently — it stings.” 

As the Niners prepare to square off with the Chiefs again at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, Bosa has the opportunity he wanted. Having come so close in his first year in the league, he has dreamed of the chance to put it right, so having the same opponent on the docket is some sweet symmetry. 

Bosa can recall almost every defensive play of Super Bowl LIV, both from memory and from repeatedly watching it. The ones that burn him the most are a play when he missed a scrambling Mahomes by the width of a fingernail in the open field, and a near-sack on the quarterback just after halftime. 

“I understand what it means to be here again,” Bosa added. “I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity — against the same team. We have got to make the most of it and we’ve got to make it count this time. 

“You want that chance, it motivates you. That’s what we’ve been pushing for the last few years, here it is.” 

Would Purdy or Shanahan benefit more from a Super Bowl win?

Would Purdy or Shanahan benefit more from a Super Bowl win?

San Francisco’s second-most-impactful 2020 rookie was Deebo Samuel, but the versatile receiver has taken an approach opposite to Bosa’s. 

Samuel is determined to win his first championship this weekend but doesn’t believe the fact that it comes against the Chiefs confers any special significance. For the most part, the 28-year-old has pushed his previous Super Bowl trip out of his mind. 

“I don’t think about it,” he said. “I don’t look at it. That’s not for me.” 

One thing Samuel does agree with Bosa on is that getting a second chance to win a Super Bowl is an opportunity that shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

Year after year, in Super Bowl post-game interviews, players and coaches from the losing team believe their disappointment on the biggest stage will serve as a catalyst in their efforts to reach the mountaintop.

In most cases, they’re wrong. Football history is filled with teams who got close, fell short and never got the chance again. 

[Kyle Shanahan’s influence is all over the NFL. All that’s missing is a Super Bowl title]

“When it happens, every time they think they are going to pop right back but it doesn’t happen that way,” Samuel added. “I’m grateful for being here.” 

He continued: “It didn’t happen by accident. We saw what we could do and we went and did it.” 

Niners tight end George Kittle provided one of the more memorable scenes from that game in 2020. As defeat closed in, Kittle famously made a promise that he and the team would return. 

“I will be back here,” he said while standing on the sideline. “I will be back here. I will be back with a vengeance. You will not get the best of me, no sir.” 

Do the Chiefs need a Super Bowl LVIII win to be considered a dynasty?

Do the Chiefs need a Super Bowl LVIII win to be considered a dynasty?

When asked about that memory on Monday night, Kittle insisted it was a testament to the power of positive thinking, a concept he practices and firmly believes in. 

“If you don’t speak it into existence, how is it ever going to happen?” Kittle said. “If you don’t say it, if you don’t believe it, how is it going to happen? Surround yourself with good people. Friends are like elevators; they can bring you up or they can bring you down. I try to surround myself with good people and one thing the (Niners) have done is fill that building with good people who want to go up.” 

That mindset has helped bring the Niners back to the brink of title glory. Just one game to go to win it all, and to make amends for that defeat four years ago. 

 Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.


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