The NFL's new playoff overtime rules debuted in a dramatic moment during the 2024 Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs were the first to test it out. San Francisco chose to receive the ball but could only manage a field goal. Kansas City then clinched victory with a touchdown.
This was a historic overtime since the NFL's 2022 rule change. Previously, the first team to score a touchdown would win. Now, both teams get the chance to possess the ball in overtime.
Despite the rule being in place for two seasons, confusion reigned among the 49ers. Post-game, several players admitted to not knowing the playoff-specific rules. This lack of awareness affected their strategy discussions.
Arik Armstead discovered the rule during the game, via the stadium's jumbotron. Kyle Juszczyk, unaware of the playoff variation, assumed their strategy was based on regular season rules. "I guess that’s not the case. I don’t really know the strategy,” Juszczyk remarked.
Coach Shanahan was aware of the overtime strategy, unlike some players. Meanwhile, the Chiefs had been meticulously preparing. They practiced Super Bowl overtime scenarios since training camp. Justin Reid and Chris Jones highlighted their team's thorough preparation and strategy discussions.
This preparation contrasted sharply with the 49ers' oversight. Some Niners might have mistakenly celebrated too early if they had scored a touchdown, not realizing the game wasn't over.
Ultimately, the 49ers faced the reality of losing the Super Bowl, spared from additional embarrassment by their lack of rule knowledge. A silver lining, perhaps, in a cloud of disappointment.