Milan poked fun at the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl victory, inspired by star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Chiefs clinched their first Super Bowl title in 50 years with a 31-20 comeback victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

When Ibrahimovic left the LA Galaxy late last year before agreeing a return to Milan, part of his message on Twitter read: "Now go back to watch baseball."

Inspired by that, the Serie A club congratulated the Chiefs on Twitter and a graphic read: "Now let's go back to watching AC Milan."

Ibrahimovic has scored two goals in five games since returning to Milan, who are eighth in Serie A.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan rued a missed opportunity after a 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

The 49ers looked on track for a record-equalling sixth Super Bowl title as they carried a 20-10 lead into the final seven minutes at Hard Rock Stadium.

But Patrick Mahomes and Damien Williams led a Chiefs comeback as they scored 21 unanswered points to win their first title in 50 years.

A disappointed Shanahan, who was criticised for being too conservative during the loss, said it was a chance missed for the 49ers.

"We had opportunity to win that and we came up short. Win or lose, today doesn't change how I feel about our team," he told a news conference.

"I'm real proud of the guys, what they did all year, I'm proud of what they did today.

"Kansas City played a good game, they were better than us today and we can deal with that, but we're obviously pretty disappointed."

Jimmy Garoppolo had appeared to be guiding the 49ers to victory and the quarterback finished with 219 yards on 20 of 31 completed passes, with one TD and two interceptions.

Shanahan felt Garoppolo "played all right", instead lamenting the 49ers' inability to convert on third down in the fourth quarter.

"We didn't convert those third downs there in the fourth quarter," he said.

"When you don't convert those third downs and you don't get an explosive run, you end up giving them too many chances."

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is longer the winningest NFL head coach without a Super Bowl title.

Reid's long wait for a championship ring ended thanks to Sunday's 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Miami.

It was Reid's 222nd win in the NFL, and it proved to be the biggest.

Reid, who spent his first 14 seasons as a head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles up until 2012, has spent the past seven campaigns in Kansas City.

A career spanning 21 years, Reid's teams had made 15 playoff appearances, winning 10 division titles and reaching seven conference championships.

The Reid-led Eagles reached the Super Bowl in 2005 but fell 24-21 to the New England Patriots in Jacksonville, Florida.

But the popular 61-year-old finally had something to celebrate at the second attempt – Reid's Chiefs overturning a 10-point deficit inside the final seven minutes.

The Eagles even congratulated Reid, tweeting: "Time's yours, Andy".

Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes said the team never lost faith after denying the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs overturned a 10-point deficit inside the final seven minutes as Kansas City claimed their first title in 50 years with a 31-20 victory in Miami on Sunday.

Mahomes led the way for the Chiefs, crowned Super Bowl MVP thanks to his two touchdowns against the 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium.

The youngest player to be named NFL MVP and win a Super Bowl in their career at 24 years and 138 days, Mahomes – the 2018 MVP – told Fox Sports afterwards: "We never lost faith. That's the biggest thing.

"No one had their head down. We believed in each other, that's what we preached all year long. We had this guy right here [referencing Reid] to get us here.

"We had to jump in. Defense had some big stops for us and we found a way to win in the end.

"Keep firing, keep believing in your eyes and throwing it. It gives me the confidence to do what I do."

It was also a monumental moment for Andy Reid, who finally celebrated his first Super Bowl triumph as a head coach.

Reid earned a championship ring, having first been appointed coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999.

Asked if it was worth the wait, the 61-year-old said: "Absolutely, absolutely. Love this guy right here [Mahomes] and the other guys. This is what it's all about. What a great team and coaches. Appreciated every bit of it."

Reid continued: "I'm good. My heart is racing. I'm getting older. I can't let it race too much."

Patrick Mahomes was named Super Bowl MVP after leading the Kansas City Chiefs past the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Mahomes helped the Chiefs produce a fourth-quarter comeback at Hard Rock Stadium, winning their first Super Bowl title in 50 years with a 31-20 victory.

The quarterback, the 2018 NFL MVP, threw his two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, while he rushed for a score in the first.

Mahomes finished 26 of 42 for 286 yards, two TDs and two interceptions as the Chiefs won their second Super Bowl title.

The 24-year-old became the youngest player in NFL history to win an MVP and Super Bowl.

Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title in 50 years as they overturned a 10-point deficit inside the final seven minutes to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20.

San Francisco appeared poised to win a sixth Lombardi Trophy, which would have drawn them level with the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers as the NFL's most successful franchises, when they led 20-10 heading into the closing stages on Sunday.

However, Chiefs quarterback Mahomes – who had been intercepted twice by a swarming 49ers defense – threw late touchdown passes to Travis Kelce and Damien Williams to add to his rushing score in the first quarter.

Jimmy Garoppolo was then unable to respond when the 49ers quarterback got the ball back, Williams adding further gloss with a 38-yard rushing touchdown, meaning the Chiefs claimed their second Super Bowl and veteran Andy Reid finally won his first ring as a head coach.

Mahomes finished with 286 yards passing, and another 44 on the ground, while Williams had 104 rushing yards and Tyreek Hill 105 receiving yards.

It was another crushing Super Bowl loss for Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator when they blew a 28-3 lead in losing to the Patriots three years earlier.

A nervous start at Hard Rock Stadium beset Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, who went three and out on their first offensive series for the third time this postseason.

San Francisco responded with a 10-play, 62-yard series that culminated in a Robbie Gould field goal.

The Chiefs offense would finally get rolling on a near seven-and-a-half-minute possession that featured a fourth-down conversion after Mahomes had fumbled out of bounds on a brutal hit from Jimmie Ward on third down.

Mahomes himself took the ball into the end zone, keeping it on an option play for a one-yard score and the game's first touchdown.

Three plays into San Francisco's next possession and the pendulum appeared to be swinging firmly in the Chiefs' direction when Garoppolo was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland.

The offense could only turn that into three points, though, and San Francisco made it 10-10 when a determined Kyle Juszczyk charged over having collected a short Garoppolo pass.

San Francisco might have gone into the interval ahead too, but a 42-yard George Kittle catch was negated, perplexingly, by a poor offensive pass interference call.

Another Gould field goal restored the Niners' lead at the start of the third quarter and then their defense stepped up, Fred Warner stepping in front of Hill to claim a Mahomes pass the play after the quarterback had recovered his own fumble.

That led to Raheem Mostert punching in from the one as the 49ers' lead was extended to 10 points.

Mahomes continued to be flushed out of the pocket, but he was not rushed on third-and-six early in the fourth quarter when a pass slipped through Hill's grasp and into Tarvarius Moore's hands for his first NFL pick.

It felt like the game was slipping away from Kansas City but Mahomes' 44-yard hook-up with Hill breathed new life into the Chiefs offense and they were back within one score through Kelce's one-yard touchdown catch.

Mahomes had now found his groove and on Kansas City's next possession Williams' quick-thinking saw him reach out and break the plane, a go-ahead score that was confirmed following a booth review.

Garoppolo got the ball back but the quarterback missed Emmanuel Sanders on a third down and was swallowed up on fourth down.

Williams scampered into the end zone again for the icing on the cake before Garoppolo was intercepted for the second time by Kendall Fuller to cap a miserable night for the Niners.

Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs past the San Francisco 49ers and to their second Super Bowl title on Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy was inactive for Super Bowl LIV.

The 11th year veteran was a healthy scratch for Andy Reid's team, not making the 53-man gameday roster along with linebacker Darron Lee and cornerback Morris Claiborne.

McCoy, who has the 27th most scrimmage yards of all time in the NFL, joined the Chiefs this offseason but has played just one snap since Week 15.

Tevin Coleman and Dee Ford were, as expected, both active for the San Francisco 49ers despite some initial concerns over their injuries, while wide receiver Dante Pettis was a healthy scratch having not had a target since Week 10.

Running back Jeff Wilson was surprisingly active for the 49ers, though, suggesting Coleman's dislocated shoulder could restrict him at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Super Bowl LIV matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers is regarded as one of the best of recent years.

Opinions are firmly split on whether the league's most talented quarterback, Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, or the NFL's most talented team, the 49ers will prevail at Hard Rock Stadium.

Regardless of the outcome, it is anticipated to be a game that will live long in the memory.

Here we look at the aspects of the game where a mouth-watering contest will likely be won and lost.


Patrick Mahomes v the 49ers pass rush

Mahomes is dangerous not just because of the explosive plays he makes look routine, but also because of the way in which he is able to avoid negative plays.

He was sacked only 17 times in the regular season and threw just five interceptions. However, the Niners' ferocious pass rush, which including the playoffs has racked up 57 sacks, will provide the superstar passer with his stiffest challenge of the campaign.

The 49ers' path to victory involves getting to Mahomes and forcing uncharacteristic mistakes, if they fail to do that, it could be a long evening for the best defense in the NFL.

The battle of the elite tight ends

The 49ers' George Kittle has cemented a reputation as the premier player at tight end. However, the Chiefs' Travis Kelce is also among the elite at the position and has the opportunity to state his case as the class of the tight end field on the grandest stage of them all.

Kittle is an outstanding all-around player who makes an impact on almost every play through his remarkable athleticism and pass-catching ability, along with his incredible contributions as a blocker.

Kelce has developed a near-telepathic rapport with Mahomes and is crucial to helping his quarterback dice up zone coverage schemes such as that employed by the 49ers.

Both Kittle and Kelce will be imperative to their respective teams' gameplans and whichever tight end enjoys the better outing could have a decisive impact on an encounter that looks tantalisingly poised.

A heavyweight coaching matchup

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Super Bowl LIV is the coaching matchup between Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan, two of the finest offensive play-callers in the modern game.

The offenses of the Chiefs and the 49ers have each proved near-impossible to stop this season. Kansas City's attack has thrived as the combination of Reid and Mahomes has proved a match made in heaven, the Chiefs possessing unquestionably the most dynamic deep passing attack in the NFL.

Like Reid, 49ers head coach Shanahan is a renowned innovator who excels at exploiting mismatches, with the way he has developed his father Mike's outside-zone running game turning San Francisco's rushing attack into a juggernaut. 

Reid and Shanahan are known for their meticulous preparation and have had two weeks to plan for this contest. The winner of what many expect to be a shootout may be decided by which coach put together the superior gameplan during that fortnight.

San Francisco's surging ground game

That San Francisco running game is likely to be the focus of Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and with good reason.

The Niners totalled an astonishing 471 yards and six touchdowns on the ground across their playoff wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, controlling the clock and taking pressure off quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo while ensuring the defense stayed rested.

Should the 49ers succeed in doing the same in the Super Bowl and keep Mahomes off the field, the advantage will tilt firmly in their favour.

The Chiefs' need for speed

Kansas City can produce consistently huge games largely because of the track-star speed the Chiefs have in their receiving corps.

Tyreek Hill may be the fastest player in the NFL and rookie Mecole Hardman cannot be far behind. 

Their pace puts a huge strain on opposing secondaries, but the 49ers – despite not being blessed with significant speed among their defensive backs – have done a superb job of limiting explosive plays.

The Niners gave up just five passing plays of 40 yards or more in the regular season, thanks to a combination of their pass rush and a vastly improved secondary, with All-Pro corner Richard Sherman and safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt enjoying excellent seasons.

That trio will need to maintain that form to keep the most dangerous offense the Niners defense has faced at bay.

Super Bowl LIV is considered too close to call by many.

The San Francisco 49ers' swarming defense and punishing ground attack versus the Kansas City Chiefs' lightning-fast offense, led by perhaps the NFL's best quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.

We asked current and past NFL greats for where they thought the game might be won and lost at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Sunday.

 

Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle: "San Francisco's front, that defensive line, is going to be putting a lot of pressure on Mahomes. If they can continue to do that, keep Patrick Mahomes from running down the field, I think they can come out with the victory."

Five-time Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick: "I think you're going to see offense, offense, offense. The 49ers defense has been so good and you have such talent on the Chiefs defense, but those offenses are both really good. I think whoever has the ball last is going to win the game."

Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews: "I'm a big Patrick Mahomes fan, I like the kid a lot, the way he carries himself, what he does in interviews, obviously what he does on the playing field and the way the Chiefs have responded in their two playoff games. I like the Chiefs but it's a great matchup. Kyle Shanahan, I know, will have the Niners ready to play and they're a pretty solid team on defense."

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs: "The 49ers are a complete team, I feel like. That defensive front is crazy, that front four, front seven. But they're going against Patty. It's never a certainty of a win when you're going against him. It's going to be a good one. I'm thinking all the time that system [the 49ers rushing attack] would be a great system to be in. I'm proud of them guys, they're making the running backs look good. They're bringing the value and love for running backs back."

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott: "If you look at the entire defensive line of the 49ers, that's real. Those guys make it hard to throw. They're going to make it hard for the Chiefs passing game, I imagine. I'm sure [Chiefs head coach] Andy Reid will have a great plan. Andy and I worked together in Philadelphia for 12 years and so expect his team to be well prepared for it. [San Francisco] will bring a lot of heat from that front four."

Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett: "In order for the Niners to win, it's going to come down to their receivers other than Emmanuel Sanders and George Kittle, they’re going to have to step up and do everything. For the Chiefs to win, they need that defensive line to keep the pressure on Jimmy G [Garoppolo] and everybody to play their run gaps. If you can't stop the run, they're going to eat you alive."

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr: "It comes down to quarterback play. Both defenses are solid, both offenses are explosive. It comes down to the quarterback who can make the most plays and keep the momentum going for their teams."

Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munoz: "You've got to look at the Kansas City tackles. Those are the guys that, when I was playing and when we were going into a big game, the head coach would say, 'The hat would go on you'. We have two hats and those are going to be on the two tackles, [Eric] Fisher and [Mitchell] Schwartz, those are the guys that if we can see them do a pretty good job, you're going to see some points by the Kansas City offense."

Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci: "I have loyalty with the team I used to coach for several years, the 49ers. I've got a lot of respect for that organisation. They've got five Super Bowls, looking for number six. But I also have loyalty with a friend, Andy Reid, we cut our teeth together 28 years ago with the Green Bay Packers. Friendships never die, right? So I have part of me that's really rooting for his success."

Five-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner: "I hope Sherm [49ers cornerback Richard Sherman] has five interceptions."

When the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers square off in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, it will not just be a meeting of the league's most talented quarterback against its most complete team. It will also be a matchup of the two greatest offensive minds in the game today.

They are in different stages of career and their journeys to this point have been markedly different, but no other offensive coach in the league does creativity and innovation to the level of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and 49ers boss Kyle Shanahan.

Despite the strength of the Niners defense and the improvements made by that of the Chiefs down the stretch, you will find few in Miami willing to bet against a shootout at Hard Rock Stadium.

It's a 61-year-old veteran against the 40-year-old christened as a genius almost throughout the league, and their intelligence and incredible acumen are sure to help keep the scoreboard ticking in what many expect to be a classic Super Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid

A former assistant of Mike Holmgren with the Green Bay Packers, Reid was schooled in the West Coast offense that Holmgren was immersed in during his time working under the legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh. 

The West Coast is an offense that is built on the principle of getting the ball to the receivers in space from them to gain yardage after the catch. 

Reid has stuck to that tenet of the scheme, but the genius in his approach lies with how he has incorporated the deep pass. The West Coast system may be designed to put players in space, but the Chiefs, through drafting the likes of Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, have added players so fast that they create their own space.

Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes attempted a deep pass of 20 yards or more at the ninth-highest rate in the NFL this season, despite missing the best part of 11 quarters with a knee injury, with the 2.4 yards of separation from the nearest defender his receivers averaged on those passes the second-highest amount in the league.

Such is Reid's faith in Mahomes' arm and the speed of his receivers, that one of the Chiefs' most frequent play-calls if four verticals – essentially just four receivers running straight down the field.

The raw pace the Chiefs have at their disposal allows Reid the luxury of stretching defenses deep, but he also uses their physical gifts to test opponents horizontally as well. Reid will frequently send his running back in motion to shift defenders over to a certain side of the field and make them respect the possibility of a short throw to that area, opening greater pockets of space downfield.

Respect for such motion is a result of the impact Hill has made on jet sweeps and reverses out of the backfield, the former fifth-round pick adept at ripping off significant gains through plays that are effectively an extension of the running game.

Further downfield, Reid also utilizes the speed of his wideouts with deep crossing patterns that give defenders, as Raiders safety Karl Joseph found out in Week 2, a difficult decision to make as to who to cover. The combination of the Chiefs' speed and Reid's play-calls so often puts defenses in a bind, which is something his opposite number Shanahan seemingly revels in finding new ways to do.

San Francisco 49ers – Kyle Shanahan

The only team that ranks above the Chiefs in average separation on deep passes is the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo's completion percentage of 58.1 on deep throws is the best in the league, above Mahomes in second (47.1).

San Francisco and Garoppolo's presence at the top of those respective lists will surprise many given their postseason successes over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers were built around a dominant running game.

But the fact the Niners are able to flourish on the ground and send it deep is testament to Shanahan, who creates huge holes for his troop of electric running backs with an outside zone scheme that is an extension of what his father Mike ran in Denver and Washington. Shanahan also does an excellent job of recognising a defense's weak link and relentlessly taking advantage of it to get his receivers open.

A master of misdirection and disguise, no coach in the NFL relies on motion and play-action more than Shanahan, and the results have been devastatingly impressive for a team that finished the regular season second in points per game with 29.9.

The two players that are most crucial to Shanahan's consistent success with deception are Kyle Juszczyk and rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

Juszczyk is the Niners' Swiss Army knife. Many balked at the $21millon contract the Niners gave the fullback in 2017, but he has more than proved his worth.

The Niners do not use him as strictly a traditional fullback, they deploy him as a tight end and as a slot receiver as well as in the backfield, and the fact he has the athleticism to block and catch passes from each of those spots makes it near-impossible to decipher what his responsibility on a given play.

Juszczyk was the lead blocker on Samuel's touchdown on a reverse in the 49ers' crucial Week 17 win at the Seattle Seahawks that clinched a bye and homefield advantage in the playoffs for San Francisco.

Samuel has slotted seamlessly into the offense, racking 802 receiving yards, but the threat of him as a runner out of the backfield has allowed Shanahan to add another dimension to his attack, forcing defenders to hesitate when he comes across the formation, as they did when he ended up being the lead blocker for one of four Raheem Mostert touchdowns in the NFC Championship game.

Stopping the Niners' diverse ground attack will be a primary focus of Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo but, with Shanahan being such a savant of disguise and having the likes of Juszczyk and Samuel at his disposal, it is difficult how to see that goal can be achieved in what will be a points fest if he and Reid perform at their play-calling peak.

There aren't many similarities between the San Francisco 49ers and Conor McGregor.

While McGregor plies his trade in blood-and-thunder five-round contests in the UFC Octagon, the 49ers operate in an NFL world where almost cinematic sporting dramas play out over around three hours in gargantuan stadia.

Yet there is one parallel that runs through McGregor's dominant recent victory over Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone and the Niners' surge to Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Sunday, and it relates to their shared use of a postural therapy method.

The Egoscue Method, created by founder Pete Egoscue, is a form of therapy used to eliminate chronic pain and increase functional mobility.

Jack Nicklaus said Egoscue "totally changed my life" following his well-documented back problems, and should the 49ers lift the Lombardi Trophy by beating the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, two former Egoscue staff members now employed by San Francisco will be among those celebrating.

Niners general manager John Lynch, who joined the team along with head coach Kyle Shanahan in 2017, knew Egoscue from high school, and their long-standing relationship led to the team hiring Elliott Williams and Tom Zheng as functional performance staff.

Brian Bradley, Egoscue's vice president of brand development and strategic partnerships, worked with the 49ers into Lynch's second year in charge but distanced himself from taking credit for San Francisco's success in 2019.

He told Omnisport: "I've worked with John since his college years, into his pro years and then afterward when he was an analyst, and then when he became GM, we knew we were going to do something together because he knows he has the best interests of every player at heart and he knows Egoscue has the foundational movement for that.

"They're in their third year and the reason why this kind of stuff is successful is because John has built a congruent organisation.

"They're not in the Super Bowl because of Egoscue, they're in the Super Bowl because they've drafted five number one draft picks for defensive line. They have an amazing quarterback, they have amazing running backs, they have a great tight end, they have a great team and the athletic trainers and the medical staff work very well with the strength staff, and then the functional performance coaches, who are right in between there, are doing an amazing job.

"They [Williams and Zheng] used to work for me and I hired them but I won't take any credit for anything other than that. They're just good guys."

However, the aforementioned tight end, All-Pro George Kittle, was effusive in his praise when asked about Williams and Zheng ahead of the Niners' seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

Kittle, who recently revealed he has played with a torn labrum since 2018, told reporters: "I've worked with them almost every single day since I got here. They've been one of the most important parts of my recovery every single week, just from a function movement standpoint.

"After a game when you get hit a bunch of times, your body's kind of out of whack and they always help me get it back to square one which allows me to play week in, week out.

"They're incredible, incredibly professional, they have a great time doing what they do and the amount of guys that they've helped in the three years I've been here has been uncountable."

Getting the body in the right alignment is a key tenet of the Egoscue Method, and Bradley's influence in assisting McGregor in that regard was a factor in his devastating 40-second win over Cowboy.

Bradley said: "I got hooked up with Conor because, after the Khabib [Nurmagomedov] fight, I lost my mind about it.

"The minute I saw the fight with Khabib, I'm looking at it on my television saying, 'This is an unfair fight', and nobody knows that it's unfair because the way that Conor was aligned with his head position, upper back and hips, he wasn't able to drive punches from his hip.

"He was driving from his shoulder and he was trying to breathe with his shoulders, just watch him in the first round and the second round, he's heaving his shoulders up and down to try to breathe.

"My good friend and colleague [motivational speaker] Tony Robbins got a hold of him, and I took pictures of the TV and sent these to Tony and said, 'You've got to get these to McGregor somehow because something in his camp has gone wrong'. About six months later, he says 'Look, I'm meeting with him'.

"The idea of being a hip-driven athlete fully resonated with him [McGregor] because he said, 'I felt like I wasn't getting enough power out of my punch and I couldn't breathe, and I see by the pictures that you took when I was fighting, I see the cause'.

"I gave him five things to do 12 days out from the fight [with Cowboy]. I gave him a more resilient, hip-driven movement so that no matter what he was doing, you weren't going to see a kid who was out of breath in this fight.

"When he was fighting Cowboy, he drove his shoulder into his face four times, he didn't just raise his shoulder up, he drove from the leg through the hip, through the shoulder and up into his face. He won the fight with four punches off his shoulder and one kick to the head."

It is unlikely the 49ers will land such a quick knockout blow against the Chiefs, but if the stars align for them at Hard Rock Stadium, it will be in part because their functional performance staff got their bodies in the right position.

If the San Francisco 49ers have a big lead in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, their coaching staff are unlikely to let minds drift to thoughts of confetti, parades and rings.

They may have been forgiven for doing so three years ago when the Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots 28-3 late in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI.

Lady Gaga, the half-time act that year, had long finished singing. But it turned out the fat lady had not.

Back came the Patriots, Kyle Shanahan's offense unable to add further points to their total, and Tom Brady perhaps cementing his legacy as the G.O.A.T by inspiring a 34-28 overtime win that stunned the Falcons.

Shanahan has since left Atlanta, taking the Niners' head-coaching post shortly after, but he admitted this week that Super Bowl scars remain.

The same is true for the staff he brought with him. Those aiming to banish the demons of Houston. Of '28-3'.

"I'm not gonna lie; you still think about it quite a bit," the Niners' passing-game coordinator Mike LaFleur told Omnisport.

Shanahan said the only play he would have called differently in that second half was a second-and-11 pass play that resulted in Matt Ryan being sacked and pushed out of field-goal range.

Yet the Patriots' comeback was a brutal reminder of how even sizeable advantages can be eroded in the NFL.

At Super Bowl LIV, the Niners face a Kansas City Chiefs team that have already overturned 24 and 10-point leads this postseason.

Those who know Shanahan best believe a return to the Super Bowl will not suddenly trigger post-traumatic stress because '28-3' has always been with him ever since it happened.

San Francisco's run-game coordinator Mike McDaniel, who, like LaFleur, worked with Shanahan in Atlanta and at the Cleveland Browns, told Omnisport: "It's just the final game of the season, the stakes are incredibly high but I wouldn’t say that it would venture into Kyle's head any more than any other lesson.

"You'll never forget. Once you lose a Super Bowl like that, you just never feel comfortable with a lead, but that's been every single game since that we've been burying that weight.

"That's a lesson that you'll always be mindful of and you'll lose leads in the future but you'll do your best and better understand and think through how to handle situations - like all coaches that are able to have sustained success like Kyle."

LaFleur is adamant that Shanahan remained an aggressive playcaller in Houston, but he also recognises that, should the Niners find themselves in a similarly dominant position against the Chiefs, no one will be getting complacent.

Not with Patrick Mahomes on the other sideline. Not with '28-3' in their minds.

"I just know up in the box on Sundays, I don't care what the score is," LaFleur added.

"We had numerous times this year where we had big leads and you don't feel comfortable.

"I'm not saying the clock has to hit zero but the knees better be out or a lot of running the ball and the other team not using their timeouts."

Mitch Wishnowsky was out fishing when he got the phone call that changed his life.

He was a 20-year-old glazier in Western Australia, slowly getting back to normal after suffering from dengue fever in Bali.

The voice on the other end of the line had little sympathy, though.

"Mitch, are you done messing about in Bali?" John Smith asked.

"Stop wasting your life."

It was the first time Wishnowsky had spoken to Smith, the head coach of Prokick Australia, an organisation set up to help those Down Under have a career in American football.

"[He was] yelling at me, basically," Wishnowsky told Omnisport.

"Told me he'd change my life, [to] quit my job tomorrow, move to Melbourne. I was sold."

His parents, at least initially, were not, but on Sunday Wishnowsky will be punting for the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

It will be the realisation of a life-long dream... Sort of.

He had grown up playing soccer and Australian rules football, though shoulder injuries meant he had to give up the latter.

Wishnowsky had been urged to try American football - the flag variety - by some friends and it was when he was "messing around" punting that he caught the attention of someone who knew Smith and his colleague Nathan Chapman - both of whom spent time in the NFL.

"I always dreamed of being a pro athlete," Wishnowsky added.

"I was 20 and I had to give [Australian rules] away. I was devastated. I'm 20, I'm not going to be a pro athlete, time to move on.

"Randomly, this came out of the blue, this was my last chance."

From Melbourne, Wishnowsky went to a junior college in Santa Barbara and onto college in Utah, and in 2016 he won the Ray Guy Award, given to college football's best punter.

The NFL beckoned and the 49ers selected Wishnowsky in last year's draft, the rookie establishing himself as the team's starting punter in their run to the Super Bowl, where they face the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami.

He may be one of the few from his country in the NFL, but those who do hail from Australia tend to be punters.

Michael Dickson, Lachlan Edwards, Jordan Berry and Cameron Johnston all hold starting jobs in that position, and Wishnowsky puts the influx of Australian punters down to their grounding in Aussie rules.

"We just grow up from whatever age – five, four – punting a football," Wishnowsky added.

"If you ask us to throw it, we're useless because we didn't do it."

Jarryd Hayne and Valentine Holmes were not required to throw the ball, just run it, but neither was able to replicate the type of success they had as NRL players.

Rugby league star Hayne impressed enough to make the 49ers' roster in 2015 but lasted only half a season, while fellow Australia international Holmes returned to the NRL in November after a year on the New York Jets' practice squad.

"Even when Jarryd Hayne came over, I thought there are incredible athletes in Australia, [but] he's going to struggle, so just to do what he did was incredible," Wishnowsky said.

"Some of the athletes that are over here are incredible, so fast, so quick, cut up.

"They will eat pancakes and maple syrup every meal and they will just be cut. They are just different. I think it is a tough thing to get into."

Wishnowsky has had no such problems making the transition, though, and on Sunday he will achieve something beyond even his wildest dreams.

"I didn't even consider this," Wishnowsky admitted.

"My dream was to play in the NFL, it's almost a new dream to play in the Super Bowl."

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez promised to remember Kobe Bryant at the Super Bowl LIV half-time show in Miami on Sunday.

The Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium exactly a week on from the shock death of Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who were killed in a helicopter crash in California.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers, was a role model for many of the NFL players that will take to the field on Sunday.

Shakira, who will perform during the interval at the Super Bowl as a co-headliner with Lopez, revealed her long-time boyfriend, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, was also deeply affected by the news and said she will be thinking of Bryant when she performs on Sunday.

"Gerard, my partner, called me with the sad news, he was affected because he knew Kobe and I knew him too, he went to one of my shows," Shakira said.

"I can't imagine the pain that his family must be going through right now. Life is so fragile and that's why we have to live every moment as intensely as we can.

"I think we will all be remembering Kobe on Sunday and we will be celebrating life and diversity in this country. I'm sure he would be very proud to see the message that we are going to be trying to convey on stage that day.

"I think it's a very important moment for the Latino community in this country. The Super Bowl is a very American event, it's as American as it can get, and I think it's going to be very nice that it's also going to be a reminder of the heritage of this country, which is one of diversity; that's what we will be celebrating on Sunday."

Lopez posted an emotional tribute to Bryant and his family on Instagram and she was choked up discussing the impact it had had on her and her fiancee, MLB great Alex Rodriguez.

"I was in the middle of rehearsing and talking about this show and Alex came to me with tears in his eyes and he said, 'You're not going to believe what happened'," Lopez explained.

"He was devastated. He knew Kobe very well, they came up together and entered sports around the same time. He was just devastated. I knew Kobe and Vanessa more in passing. He had come to my last show in Vegas, the both of them, as a date night. We had a beautiful night that night.

"I think it's affecting everybody so much because it's just reminding us again how fragile life is, how we have to appreciate every single moment, how we have to love people when they're here and not wait. How we don't get the opportunity – it can be taken away from us so easily. 

"Then I think about Vanessa as a mum and losing her best friend and partner, and losing her child. I think how awful that must for her be right now. I just wanted to send her a message and just been praying that God guides her through every moment because she has three more babies to take care of.

"Just wishing that the nightmare was over but it's not going to be and that's life, we have to carry on but at the same time it affects us and will affect us forever. Hopefully we will remember this moment and what we're trying to do is spread love, kindness and bring everybody together.

"In this week, this happening has a sound around the world that we have to love each other, and we have to be together and support each other. We can't be so at odds all the time and that's part of our mission and message too."

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