Four days later, and it’s still a *thing*.
The 49ers losing that Super Bowl isn’t going away anytime soon, as I was just saying to my good friends Dusty Baker, Roger Craig and Draymond Green.
(Yes, I put the SB 54 loss on Mount Pain-More in Bay history, alongside Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, the 1990 NFC Championship game and blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavs.)
I thought about devoting the post-Miami Jock Blog to a meditation on “Kyle, Jimmy and the D” — the trifecta of tragedy that has consumed our airwaves.
It rolls off the tongue, like the old “Willie, Mickey and the Duke” lyric from “Talkin’ Baseball”.
But then Thursday morning, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch sat down to address the media. It was Shanahan’s first public appearance since the haze and daze of the immediate post-Super Bowl aftermath. Whatever he said Sunday night evaporated in our minds; we were all too busy trying to use ancient brain-stem human coping mechanisms.
It’s incredible the human brain and soul has evolved to cope with things like this. God bless our caveman ancestors who first formed the brain grooves to cope after losing the first Neanderthal Bowl on a blown attempt to create fire.
Tens of thousands of years later, we have some mechanism that allows us to somewhat handle something like Super Bowl 54.
So after not even hearing or knowing what Kyle said after SB 54, and after having not heard from John Lynch at all, I was curious about something entirely different than end-of-first-half strategies or Jimmy’s anti-Montana 4th quarter, or Emmanuel Moseley still wondering how Tyreek Hill wound up so far behind him:
I was curious about how the dust-settling is going to go.
See, this is a thing.
How will the 49ers building handle everything as the dust settles from this maelstrom? How will Kyle Shanahan handle another ghost in his office, alongside 28-3 vs the Patriots? How will Uber-intense Lynch handle the agonizing near-miss, especially after TV cameras caught him signaling for a time out when Kyle didn’t call one?
How will ownership in the form of Jed York, which has admirably stayed behind the scenes this entire magical season, handle its role? Continue to stay behind the scenes with ‘attaboy’ pats? Or feel the raging pain of a second Bowl loss this decade and begin to interfere with the process?
This is what intrigues me the most.
The human element. The massive challenge of swallowing wide swaths of criticism, and still believing that you’re doing the right thing. The ability to still have that Lynch-Shanahan chemistry, and resist the urge to pass each other in the hallway without Lynch going “Red 47” on him, grabbing Kyle’s white pullover, knocking his red trucker hat to the ground and pinning him against the wall screaming “WHY DIDN’T YOU HANDLE THE END OF THE FIRST HALF DIFFERENTLY, MAN?? WHY??”
Because, you know, that’s what high-pressure sports can do to people sometimes, as I was just saying to my good friends Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh.
In other words, how do you cope?
Do you disintegrate from within? Because that could happen.
Or do you go full Buffalo Bills and say: I could give two flips what the media and fans say. Let’s do it again, baby.
I have to say, I was impressed by Thursday’s performance. There was a substantive honesty to what Shanahan and Lynch said — with perhaps the exception of Lynch going political on his “I called for a TO” explanation. That one didn’t ring too true.
The rest of it — facing the situation head-on, doubling down on what you believe in, saying they still love Jimmy, understanding the daunting task ahead — was handled in a pretty encouraging way. No, Kyle didn’t back down on some play calls or strategy; not many coaches would. Heck, Pete Carroll never admitted he should have given the ball to Marshawn. Part of the deal is dying with your boots on.
Now, will leaks emanate from the building in the coming months? Will we hear whispers of dissatisfaction from ownership, management, coaching or players?
That’s the test.
Kyle gave sort of a “State of the Kyle” address, his “200 texts” story about getting 200 texts after winning the NFC, and 200 “you good?” Texts after losing the Bowl that bears repeating:
“I know there’s a lot of people saying I’m not that good out there. What I can say to you guys is, it doesn’t change how we feel inside when people tell us how good you are. You have to be even that strong, it doesn’t change how you are inside when people tell you how bad you are. It doesn’t matter. We’re playing the sport. Everyone else can evaluate it all you want. I am proud as can be of how our team handled everything, how I did, how John did, how everyone did. Now we can deal with whatever because we’re proud of how we handled it. If I wasn’t proud of that, then the stuff would be very hard on me. That’s what’s cool when you get in these moments and you can feel all this, it makes you stronger. That is a cool feeling. Not to mention how hard grieving the loss of a Super Bowl is. We’ll start that process.”
It’s coping season, y’all.