First the practice fields, then the fire alarms. After going 20 games to reach the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers may face their fiercest opponent yet as they prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs – some early morning cruises to Las Vegas.
On Thursday, 49ers players were awakened early by a 6 a.m. fire alarm at the team hotel, jolting them out of their sleep and dampening some spirits. George Kittle, who said he woke up seven minutes before his alarm went off, said All-Pro teammates Christian McCaffrey and Nick Bosa were more aware of the blackout.
“It had to be them,” Kittle said when asked about it later in the day. “You don’t want to wake the sleeping bear. But Christian wasn’t happy either.”
The 49ers’ fire for routine has been well noted all season, and McCaffrey was quick to suggest the fire alarm wasn’t a mistake.
“I think there’s no way it’s a coincidence,” he said. “It is part of it. It’s just more wood on the fire.”
The boss doubled down on that, saying “I’m sure someone did it.” The defense went on to refer to a similar incident in Philadelphia, where his sleep was interrupted by a construction crew working late into the night near the team hotel.
“A fire alarm goes off at six in the morning? For what? I didn’t realize that,” All-Star wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. “It kind of pissed me off. I’m not lying.”
Safety Tashaun Gipson, who said he’s never seen so many sleepy faces in the morning as he did Thursday, went so far as to say the disruption made practice a little more difficult that day.
“Practice seemed a little more difficult,” Gipson said Thursday after the fire alarm. “Our bodies were a little tired, but I think we will sleep today. Whoever did this, shout out to them. Good job. This is a joke, whoever did this.”
It’s not just the lack of sleep that’s affecting the 49ers’ practices, but the condition of the field the team is using for their Super Bowl preparations has also been a talking point this week with San Francisco players and coaches complaining about the surface. too soft at UNLV. Shanahan said earlier in the week that the team would not change locations.
While not every fire alarm raises bad questions — NFL studio RedZone faced a false alarm of its own in November — shenanigans in the build-up to big games have been an almost annual NFL tradition. Here are some notable incidents of pregame blackouts from the past few years:
2023 Week 17: Dan Campbell’s surprise visitors
Hours after the Detroit Lions’ emotional loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17, Lions coach Dan Campbell returned home to some unexpected guests: uninvited contractors. Someone reportedly gave the contractors Campbell’s home address and asked them to arrive early in the morning for unnecessary repairs the day after the Detroit loss, Fox Sports reported.
However, Campbell and the Lions bounced back from the distraction to end the regular season with a win and then tally the franchise’s first postseason wins in more than three decades the following week.
2023 NFC Divisional Round: Giants left without a shower
A week after winning their first playoff game in 11 years, the New York Giants woke up on January 21, 2023, looking to upset the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round. But the visiting Giants players, accustomed to showering in the morning, were thrown out of their routine thanks to a tube in the New York hotel. Giants fans and former players were quick to accuse their division rivals of foul play.
2017 AFC Championship Game: The Steelers’ rude awakening
In the early hours of January 22, 2017, the morning of the AFC Championship game, Pittsburgh Steelers players were awakened by a fire alarm in their Boston hotel. Members of the Boston Fire Department arrived just before 4 a.m. and a suspect was arrested several hours later.
New England Patriots fan Dennis Harrison, 25 at the time, told police: “I’m drunk. I am stupid. I’m a Pats fan.”
The Patriots went on to defeat the Steelers and advance to Super Bowl LI, where they earned a come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
2016 AFC Divisional Round: Chiefs upset New England
In the midst of the Deflategate saga and with many fans still weary of New England’s Spygate controversy from years ago, a fire alarm that forced portions of the Chiefs hotel to evacuate in the 2016 playoffs drew immediate skepticism. While the Chiefs, who were staying in Providence, RI, were not yet what they would become, skeptics were ready to mark another star in the Patriots’ eventual victory.
However, it was later reported that a pulled fire alarm was not the cause of the evacuations, but rather an alarm caused by an individual smoking inside the hotel.
2015 Super Bowl: Patriots hotel fire alarms
A year ago, Patriots players were victims of their own early fire alarm. Before Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots were awakened by an alarm at 2 a.m. in the players’ wing of the hotel, the second time that week that a false alarm had gone off in that area of the hotel.
That second time, Patriots stars Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady — another prominent sleeper — slept right through.
“I have not heard. He’s got to be sleeping, so that’s good,” Brady said that week. “I slept well.” The Patriots went on to defeat the Seattle Seahawks days later.
(Photo: Chris Unger/Getty Images)