The San Francisco 49ers finally climbed back up the playoff mountain to return to the Super Bowl only to find a familiar foe waiting for them.
When the Niners get a second shot at a Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs it will be a rare title game rematch in this short of a span.
“It’s perfect,” 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa said about getting a second shot to knock off Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the past five seasons.
“They’re as great an organization, coach, quarterback as there is. And they were down, not looking great this year either, and they’re playing they’re best ball now. So it’s going to be a big challenge.”
There have only been eight Super Bowl rematches in the previous 57 games, with just three happening in a five-year span before this rematch. The winners of those three rematches were the teams that won the first meeting.
There will be more than a dozen players scheduled to appear in this game — including several stars on both teams — after also playing in the game won by Kansas City 31-20 in Miami following the 2019 season.
The Chiefs rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to win that game and earn the first of two Super Bowl titles with Mahomes and coach Andy Reid at the helm. Kansas City also lost another and will be the third team to reach the championship game in four out of five seasons.
“We already have a pretty good idea how it’s going to look,” San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said. “They’ve been doing it a while. Since we met them in ’19, seems like they’ve been there every year since. We have been trying really hard to get back to this moment.”
Both teams have eight players on the active roster who played for them in the first meeting with Bosa joined by Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Arik Armstead, Kyle Juszczyk and Mitch Wishnowsky.
Mahomes will be joined by Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, Harrison Butker, Mecole Hardman, James Winchester, Nick Allegretti and Blake Bell.
San Francisco also has cornerback Charvarius Ward, who was on the Chiefs team four years ago that beat the Niners, and injured tight end Ross Dwelley, who is on season-ending injured reserve.
The Chiefs have a former Niners player from that game in receiver Richie Hames, along with defensive lineman Derrick Nnadi on IR, and Austin Reiter and Mike Pennel on the practice squad.
Here’s a look at the other times there was a Super Bowl rematch within five seasons of the first meeting.
Eli Manning and the Giants spoiled New England’s bid for a perfect season in 2007 and then pulled off the upset again four years later.
The Patriots came into Super Bowl 42 with an 18-0 record and were on the brink of matching the perfect season of the 1972 Dolphins when Tom Brady threw a 6-yard TD pass to Randy Moss to make it 14-10 with 2:42 to go.
But Manning drive New York down the field — with help from David Tyree’s helmet catch — and threw a game-winning TD to Plaxico Burress to stun New England.
Manning did it again in the 2011 season, driving to a game-winning touchdown with 57 seconds left for a 21-17 win.
Dallas and Buffalo had the only Super Bowl rematch in consecutive seasons, meeting at the end of the 1992 and 1993 campaigns.
The Cowboys got the best of both.
They used nine takeaways and four TD passes from Troy Aikman to hand the Bills a 52-17 loss in Super Bowl 27.
The rematch was far closer but had the same end result. James Washington returned a fumble for a TD early in the third quarter to tie the game and Emmitt Smith ran for two TDs in the second half for a 30-13 win.
The Cowboys were on the wrong end of a Super Bowl rematch in the 1970s, losing to the Steelers following the 1975 and 1978 seasons.
Dallas became the first wild-card team to reach the title game in Super Bowl 10 thanks to a desperation pass to beat Minnesota and a blowout against the Rams.
But they fell short against the Steel Curtain in the second second-half comeback in Super Bowl history. Pittsburgh got a safety, two field goals and a 64-yard touchdown catch by Super Bowl MVP Lynn Swann in the fourth quarter of a 21-17 win to complete back-to-back titles for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh won again three years later in the first Super Bowl rematch ever to deny Dallas back-to-back championships.
MVP Terry Bradshaw threw four TD passes and Jackie Smith dropped a potential touchdown for Dallas. Roger Staubach’s late rally fell short and the Steelers won their Super Bowl 35-31.
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