3 San Francisco 49ers to blame for the team's crushing Super Bowl loss

The 49ers just came up on the short end of one of the most heartbreaking Super Bowls we've ever seen. Who deserves the blame?

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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Wow! What a Super Bowl we all just witnessed. A sloppy and disjointed first half of the game gave no indication that we'd end up seeing one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever played, but the Chiefs and 49ers produced an instant classic in the end.

Much of the conversation in the wake of the longest Super Bowl in history will focus, deservedly so, on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, who proved why they're one of the greatest teams to ever take the field. For as much as things looked dire early on, and especially late, there's nobody you'd rather have with the game on the line and the ball in his hands than Mahomes. The Chiefs deserve all their flowers and then some.

That's small consolation to the 49ers and their fans, who came agonizingly close to the franchise's first Super Bowl win since Steve Young led them to the Lombardi Trophy in 1995. The 49ers have one of the most star-studded rosters in recent memory, with Pro Bowlers populating both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but it wasn't enough to overcome one of, if not the, greatest quarterback in history, and a defense that doesn't get enough credit for being one of the best in the league.

The Niners had their chances, and there were multiple times that they were a play away from becoming champions. It may be a little rough to pour salt in the wound after such a brutal loss, but if you want to reach the mountaintop, you need to be able to endure some constructive criticism along the way. Here are the three Niners most responsible for the loss.

3) Darrell Luter Jr.'s name will be remembered for the wrong reasons

I'd be lying if I said I knew who Darrell Luter Jr. was before this game was played. One unfortunate case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, though, will be enough to sear him into the minds of 49ers fans forever.

Luter is a rookie reserve cornerback who has spent most of his time on special teams. Drafted in the fifth round by San Francisco in the 2023 draft, the former South Alabama Jaguar was credited for a fumble after he failed to clear out of the way of a Tommy Townsend punt that struck his foot late in the third quarter. The Chiefs recovered inside the 20-yard line, and on the next play took their first lead of the game on a Patrick Mahomes pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

There were critical mistakes made by other players in this game, but while Christian McCaffrey and Isiah Pacheco made up for early fumbles with excellent play the rest of the game, and we all know how Patrick Mahomes overcame his early interception, Luter didn't have a big enough role to have a chance to erase his gaffe. Hopefully, the 23-year-old gets a chance to redeem himself in the future.