OT Confusion? New Super Bowl Overtime Rules ‘Surprise’ To 49ers Players

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The Kansas City Chiefs were prepared for everything in Super Bowl LVIII. The San Francisco 49ers? Maybe not.

KC won its second straight Super Bowl on Sunday night in Las Vegas on a dramatic walk-off touchdown as time expired in the first overtime quarter. The extra frame was the first time the NFL’s new overtime rules were used in the Super Bowl, and it’s apparently going to take some adjusting — even for those involved in the actual game.

The new rules state that both teams get a chance to possess the ball, even if the receiving team scores a touchdown on its first possession. The 49ers won the overtime coin toss and made a potentially controversial decision to take the ball. The argument for kicking is that you know whether you need a field goal or touchdown. Shanahan, meanwhile, offered a head-scratching explanation for the decision.

Either way, San Fran took the ball and kicked a field goal. Obviously, the Chiefs went down and scored the Super Bowl-winning touchdown, but there was confusion regardless on the San Francisco sideline as the extra period began.

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“I didn’t even know about the new playoff overtime rule, so it was a surprise to me,” 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead admitted to reporters after the game, per ESPN.com. “I didn’t even really know what was going on in terms of that.”

Armstead also said he learned of the new rules by seeing them on the video board in the stadium ahead of overtime.

Niners fullback Kyle Juszczyk was also a little unclear of the new rules.

“You know what? I didn’t even realize the playoff rules were different in overtime,” he said, per ESPN.com.

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In that regard, Juszczyk had no issues with the 49ers taking the ball to start overtime. Assuming, of course, a touchdown would have ended the game on the first drive.

“I assume you just want the ball to score a touchdown and win,” he added. “I guess that’s not the case. I don’t totally know the strategy here. We hadn’t talked about it, no.”

That’s a damning admission. It’s the biggest game of the season with a championship on the line in absolute crunch time. To not know the simplest of rules in that spot is kind of bewildering.

Especially when you contrast it with what the Chiefs said. Admittedly, there might have been KC players who didn’t know the rules, but there’s enough evidence from postgame comments to believe Andy Reid’s team was far more prepared for the situation.

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Chiefs safety Justin Reid told The Ringer the Chiefs started preparing for the new rules in training camp, and defensive lineman Chris Jones said it was covered in the runup to Sunday.

“We talked through this for two weeks,” Jones told The Ringer. “How we was going to give the ball to the opponent; if they scored, we was going for two at the end of the game. We rehearsed it.”

That’s not to say the Chiefs had it all under control. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw the game-winning touchdown to Mecole Hardman, said during the NFL Network postgame show that Hardman had “no idea” his score ended the game.

It’s safe to assume both teams will be more than ready the next time a playoff or Super Bowl game goes to overtime — assuming, of course, the NFL doesn’t change the rules again before then.

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