Young laments 49ers squandering favorable path to Super Bowl

Young laments 49ers squandering favorable path to Super Bowl originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers might have had their clearest path to the Super Bowl in recent memory last season, but came up short. Yet again.

And their path back to the big game won’t get any easier in 2024.

Former 49ers quarterback Steve Young joined 95.7 The Game’s “Willard & Dibs” on Tuesday, where he was asked how much pressure is on San Francisco this upcoming season and why the 49ers’ 25-22 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII was such a letdown after a dominant regular season and favorable playoff matchups.

“The most pressure was last year, right? Because last year the Rams are down, the whole division is down, Seahawks are down, Cardinals are way down,” Young said. “In the playoffs, you play a Packers team that’s been middling the whole time, you got an upstart Lions squad. And you’re like ‘That’s how we get to the Super Bowl?’

“And then you play a down-year Chiefs team. Of all the times you’re set up to do it, that was it.”

The 49ers were viewed by many as the NFL’s best team for the majority of the 2023 regular season but then hit a couple of rough patches. First, with three consecutive losses in Weeks 6 through 8 and then again with an ugly Week 16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens that Young believes had a lasting impact.

“But since the Ravens at Christmas, we just weren’t the same,” Young explained. “And we held Patrick Mahomes to 19 points. If you were to tell me Patrick Mahomes won’t score three touchdowns, we’re not going to win that game? We’re not going to walk over the Packers, we’re not going to walk over the Lions? Things were haywire from Christmas on and that’s why last year was the time with the best roster in football to go get it done.”

Heading into the 2024 season, the 49ers once again are viewed as a Super Bowl LIX favorite, but as Young highlights, could face stiffer competition from the NFC’s top teams next season.

“But next year, I think the Rams will be better, [Marvin Harrison Jr.] will make the Cards better, the Seahawks will be better, the Lions will be better, the Packers will be better,” Young added. “It’s going to get better and we’re probably not — I don”t know if we’ll get better but hopefully, we stay the same — and still beat the rank and file with this amazing roster we have … what just happened was a big miss. It just was. It’s too bad.”

The climb up the NFL mountaintop isn’t an easy one, it’s a journey that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and San Francisco nearly have done multiple times, but do they have one more attempt in them?

If so, it might be more difficult in 2024.

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