LAS VEGAS — The silence and stillness in the 49ers’ locker room after their 25-22 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII spoke volumes.
There was no music playing, very little movement and no conversations. The usual postgame ritual of players taking off pads and showering would have to wait, while they seemingly attempted to process what had just happened.
Towards the back of the locker room where the defense was situated, Fred Warner sat in a chair, facing his locker, legs straight out in front of him, eyes locked, his body completely motionless.
It was a stark contrast to his usual process of pouring over the gamebook of stats, reviewing the numbers and preparing for his postgame press conference. No one interrupted Warner’s trance-like posture, or invaded his personal space.
Diagonally across from Warner, sat Nick Bosa, Chase Young, Javon Kinlaw and Javon Hargrave in unison, facing away from their lockers, in varying states of undress. Cleats thrown to the side, bare feet on the carpet as if they realized they needed to just stop and give themselves a moment to breathe before going any further.
“I was speechless,” Bosa said after the game. “I couldn’t really look anybody in the eye, especially all my teammates. I could have done more. Everybody could have done more. And there’s really not much to say at this point. It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to hit in waves, but that’s life.”
It was a roller coaster of a game with multiple lead changes, as well as the devastating loss of linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who suffered a torn Achilles in the first half. The linebacker was seen in the locker room after the game wearing a walking boot and using crutches to support himself.
As Greenlaw slowly made his way toward the exit, his teammates silently made eye contact, gave a head nod, or gently placed a hand on his shoulder as he passed, all wanting to have played well enough to get a win for their defensive tone-setter.
They all know that while many will return to the 49ers’ locker room to start the 2024 season, this exact iteration of the roster will never be together again. It is an end of a chapter, and for some, it could even mark the end of their NFL journey.
“I think we all just said we want to be together tonight,” Bosa said. “Groups change every year so you’ll never be with that same group. We wanted to do it for Dre, we wanted to do it for all of the guys on the line. Hopefully, we could hang out tonight in a quiet place.”
It wasn’t only the players who felt the magnitude of the moment. Coaches and staff also sat motionless at their assigned lockers, not wanting to admit that the season had actually come to its unfortunate end.
As the locker room was being closed for the evening to the media, coach Kyle Shanahan’s family sat on a bench near the exit, children still teary-eyed and forlorn, not even noticing Christian McCaffrey walking by.
“It hurts,” McCaffrey said after sitting down at the media podium. “It hurts deep. It’s something that you dream about as a kid. You’ve worked so hard for it all year and come up short. I think you just have to go through all the emotions as they come, but each day just chip away getting back to normal.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take. It’s still fresh and it still sucks.”
Daniel Miller is a sports fanatic who lives and breathes athletics. His coverage spans from major league championships to local sports events, delivering up-to-the-minute updates and in-depth analysis for sports enthusiasts.