LAS VEGAS – The silence and stillness in the 49ers locker room after their 25-22 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII said it all.
There was no music, very little movement and no conversation. The usual post-game ritual of players removing pads and showering would have to wait, while they apparently tried to process what had just happened.
Towards the back of the locker room where the defense was located, Fred Warner was sitting in a chair, in front of his locker, with his legs stretched out in front of him, his eyes closed and his body completely still.
It was a stark contrast to his usual process of reading the stat book, reviewing the numbers and preparing for his postgame press conference. No one interrupted Warner’s trance posture or invaded his personal space.
Diagonally across from Warner, sat Nick Bosa, Chase Young, Javon Kinlaw and Javon Hargrave in unison, with their backs to their lockers, in various states of undress. Heels thrown to the side, bare feet on the carpet as if realizing they needed to stop and give themselves a moment to breathe before continuing.
“I was speechless,” Bosa said after the game. “I couldn’t really look anyone in the eye, especially all my teammates. I could have done more. Everyone could have done more. And there really isn’t much to say at this point. It’s going to hurt and it’s going to hit in waves, but that’s life.”
It was a rollercoaster game with multiple lead changes, as well as the devastating loss of linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the first half. The linebacker was seen in the locker room after the game wearing a walking boot and crutches for support.
As Greenlaw slowly made his way toward the exit, his teammates silently made eye contact, nodded their heads, or gently placed a hand on his shoulder as he passed, all wishing they had played well enough to earn a victory for his defensive tone. setter.
Everyone knows that while many will return to the 49ers locker room to begin the 2024 season, this exact iteration of the roster will never be together again. It’s the end of a chapter and, for some, it could even mark the end of their NFL journey.
“I think we all just said we want to be together tonight,” Bosa said. “The groups change every year, so you will never be with the same group. We wanted to do it for Dre, we wanted to do it for all the guys on the line. Hopefully, we can spend the night somewhere quiet.”
It wasn’t just the players who felt the magnitude of the moment. The coaches and staff also stood motionless at their assigned lockers, unwilling to admit that the season had come to its unfortunate end.
As the locker room closed to the media for the night, coach Kyle Shanahan’s family sat on a bench near the exit, the children still teary-eyed and sad, not even noticing Christian McCaffrey passing by.
“It hurts,” McCaffrey said after taking his seat at the media podium. “It hurts deeply. It’s something you dream about when you were a child. You’ve worked so hard all year and you’ve come up short. I think you have to go through all the emotions as they arise, but each day they are worn down to return to normal.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take. It’s still fresh and it still stinks.”