It may be in the best interest of the 49ers to build up a nice lead going into the fourth quarter of this Sunday’s Super Bowl LVIII. A recent story on ESPN’s Sportcenter focused on how poorly Kyle Shanahan’s offenses have been in the 4th quarter in Super Bowls, and it may be worse than you think.
In 2016, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. This, of course, was the famous Super Bowl where the Patriots trailed 28-3 in the third quarter before coming back and beating the Falcons. In that game, the Falcons were outscored 25-0 in the 4th quarter alone!
Later in 2019, now as the Head Coach of the 49ers, the team was outscored 21-0 in the 4th quarter. In both games, Shanahan’s team ultimately lost, and in both games, the team failed to gain 100 yards from scrimmage, a stat that is crazy considering the 4th quarter and trailing.
Will History or the Regular Season Trends Prevail for the 49ers?
Sure, two games is hardly a sample size, and certainly isn’t anything to cement as factual, but the combined 46-0 score in the 4th quarter is very concerning and certainly a storyline to watch in the Super Bowl. Shanahan’s performance in the Super Bowl during the 4th quarter is the literal definition of choking under pressure. To put some perspective on this, the average team scores about 6.3 points per 4th quarter in the NFL. Sure, you can’t blame Shanahan completely for the defense giving up 25 points in 2016, but the offense being stagnant (and giving the Patriots a ton of time/great field position) certainly helped.
Some good news is that in the regular season, the 49ers ranked fourth in the league in points during the final quarter, scoring 7.7 points per game. The Chiefs, on the other hand, ranked dead last in the NFL, scoring only 3.4 points per game.
The question is, which will prevail on Sunday? Will the 49ers be able to score and play defense against the otherwise terrible 4th quarter Chiefs, or will the Shanahan curse continue with the 49ers giving up another huge 4th quarter, ultimately resulting in a loss?
One thing is for sure: no matter what the score is, if the 49ers lead after three quarters, the game is far from over.
ESPN post this graphic about Kyle Shanahan’s 4Q play calling in Super Bowls. Look at 2016 #Falcons. Atlanta had a 19 point lead entering the 4Q and only 33% of his play calls were designed runs.
Kyle Shanahan (and Dan Quinn) stole a Super Bowl from Atlanta & Matt Ryan. pic.twitter.com/I0T5ZiEIqz
— Austin (@AustinPlanet) February 7, 2024
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