NFL legacies on the line in 49ers-Chiefs Super Bowl rematch

NFL legacies on the line in 49ers-Chiefs Super Bowl rematch

Kyle Shanahan can finally get over the Super Bowl hurdle and shed the tag of a big game coach. Brock Purdy can be done by Mr. irrelevant in the Super Bowl champion.


Similar stories

  • Kyle Shanahan can finally break the Super Bowl barrier and shed the tag of a big-game coach
  • Brock Purdy can be done by Mr. irrelevant in the Super Bowl champion
  • For Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, a Super Bowl victory Sunday against San Francisco will elevate them to a level reached only by the most accomplished quarterbacks and coaches.
  • When the Super Bowl ends, either the Chiefs or the 49ers will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, and the reputations of their quarterbacks and coaches could be transformed

For Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, a Super Bowl victory Sunday against San Francisco will elevate them to a level reached only by the most accomplished quarterbacks and coaches.

When the Super Bowl ends Sunday night, either the Chiefs or the 49ers will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, and the legacies of their quarterbacks and coaches could be transformed.

“I never thought about the word legacy,” Shanahan said this week when asked how this game would affect his double-digit fourth-quarter leads in his previous Super Bowl trips as offensive coordinator and head coach.

“When I think about legacy, I think about my dad. Although it doesn’t seem like this anymore when I have FaceTime time, I still feel like I’m kind of young. It just doesn’t work that way with me. I don’t think it works that way with a lot of people who are just in it. You’re just trying to win that game.”

Reid was in a similar spot to Shanahan before beating him to win his first Super Bowl in his 21st season as a head coach four years ago in Miami.

Reid added another title last season against Philadelphia and can now join Bill Belichick (six), Chuck Noll (four), Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs (three each) as the only coaches with at least three titles.

“In terms of legacy, I don’t really think about that,” Reid said. “We’re very involved in the game and preparing for the game, that’s where all your energy goes.”

But getting a third in five seasons — and becoming the first team in 19 seasons to return back-to-back — would put Kansas City in the discussion for the best dynasties in the Super Bowl era.

The only other teams to win three Super Bowls in a span of five seasons or less are the 1970s Steelers, the 1990s Cowboys and the Patriots, who did it twice with Belichick and Tom Brady.

“I think number three is a big number as far as dynasties and things like that,” Travis Kelce said. “Hopefully we can get this thing going and you guys can start talking about dynasties.”

Mahomes is also in position to join rare company with a third Super Bowl victory, joining Tom Brady (seven), Joe Montana (four), Terry Bradshaw (four) and Troy Aikman (three) in that group.

A third Super Bowl title at the age of 28 will raise questions about whether Mahomes will have a chance to catch Brady’s record that seemed untouchable just three years ago when he won his seventh.

“I’m not even close to the halfway mark, so I haven’t really thought about it,” Mahomes said. “Right now it’s about doing everything I can to beat a great 49ers team and try to get that third ring. Then if you ask me this question in 15 years, I’ll see if I can get closer to seven, but seven is still a long way off.”

While reaching seven remains in question, there is little doubt that Mahomes will finish his career listed among the greatest ever at the position, no matter what happens on Sunday.

Purdy is looking to join that group of Super Bowl winners and could be the second-youngest quarterback ever to do so.

“I think Patrick’s legacy is pretty established,” said two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. “What he’s done in these first six years in the NFL, making Super Bowls, making the AFC Championship every year as a starter. But an opportunity to win your third Super Bowl as a quarterback, that puts you in a other category.

“Brock Purdy, this is a great opportunity for him. … To get a Super Bowl would be huge for him.”

Purdy has had a meteoric rise from the last pick of the 2022 draft to the starting quarterback for a franchise that hired two of the best to do it in Montana and Steve Young.

A win would allow Purdy to join those Hall of Famers as the only QB to lead San Francisco to a title and allow him to be recognized more for winning the Super Bowl than his status draft.

“As a quarterback, those are definitely big shoes to fill, and I’m not going to compare myself to them,” Purdy said. “They’ve set the standard to win, so it definitely makes you think, ‘Let’s do it. step up and live up to the standards they set.'”

Shanahan has been very close to football’s ultimate prize while making a huge impact on modern football with his much-copied offensive system and coaching tree of former assistants sprinkled across the league.

Seven years ago as coordinator in Atlanta, the Falcons held a 28-3 second-half lead against New England before Brady rallied for a 34-28 overtime victory that made him and Belichick the all-time scoring leaders their streak of five Super Bowls. win.

Three years later, Shanahan led the 49ers to the title game as a head coach only to blow a 10-point lead to Kansas City in the fourth quarter of a 31-20 loss, giving Reid and Mahomes their first titles.

A win Sunday could do the same for Shanahan and Purdy, though Shanahan’s focus remains on the details rather than his place in the history books.

“I just don’t want to regret it,” Shanahan said. “I just want to do whatever makes sense for me, that makes sense for our team… No matter how hard something is or how good something is, you always keep the perspective of what it really is. If you want for your perspective to be someone else’s story, good luck being happy in life. Or successful.”

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