The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champs and that means another NFC West team failed to win a title. This time it’s Kyle Shanahan and 49ers. Shanahan came in as the true offensive prince that was promised and his offense failed to score when it mattered most.
For the Rams and Sean McVay, this game presented itself as a learning opportunity. McVay is still reeling from getting his face ripped off by Bill Belichick who proceeded to wear it on Halloween. Ever since that loss, McVay has become Roy Neary level obsessed over solving the 6-1 and has done an okay job at working around it. He also decided he wants his defense to adjust to the flow of the game rather than trying to strong-arm its way to a win hence why Wade Phillips was tragically let go. McVay then learned that he actually needs a coordinator so he is not spread so thin.
Still, Super Bowl LIV presents another opportunity for how Sean McVay can become a better coach.
Take Advantage Of What Works
It seemed inevitable that the Niners were going to win after the second Patrick Mahomes pick. They had a 10-point lead and were able to use their Hydra of a running back corps to drain the clock. If they kept running it with Raheem Mostert they’d probably be champs. They were utilizing play-action well and for whatever reason, it just went away and that ultimately cost them.
McVay found luck at various times this season deviating from his famed 11 personnel and went with a 12. It worked against Seattle and yet he tried to make the 11 happen against Dallas to no avail. He’s acknowledged that he needs to adjust hence why he hired Kevin O’Connell to be his offensive coordinator.
Be Honest About Your QB
It was telling that in the NFC Championship Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t asked to do much against the Packers. He finished the game with 77 yards. They didn’t have to ask him to do anything since their vaunted running game made the Packers look like a Pop Warner team. Still, the fact that they didn’t try and have Jimmy air it out more says that they didn’t want him to keep the Packers in.
Jimmy was solid for most of the Super Bowl but his 31 attempts compared to Mahomes’ 42, is another sign that they didn’t want him involved any more than he had to be.
How Sean McVay can learn from this is that at times he didn’t seem to understand what kind of game Jared Goff is having. Their line was atrocious all year and that prevented Todd Gurley and any other back from being effective. That said, Goff had games this year where he was asked to do to way too much. The lesson here is to understand your quarterback’s limitations.
Shanahan never seemed sure what he wanted Jimmy to do and his play has been quietly dicey at times this year. He’d have brilliant games such as his shoot out win in New Orleans but he’d then have games where he keeps the other team in it by throwing ill-timed picks.
McVay needs to be honest in what he has in Goff from week to week because he can work around it and not try and force anything which cost them the game against Pittsburgh among others.
The Super Bowl presents a learning opportunity for everyone and McVay is in the extraordinary position to be learning from his own failure and then the failure of his friend and mentor. He’s demonstrated that he’s taken his Super Bowl loss to heart and has made steps to remedy it. Here’s hoping his world famous memory took notes on what befell Kyle Shanahan.