INDIANAPOLIS -- Kyle Shanahan answered countless questions about losing to the New England Patriots with the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV.
"I think this one was harder than the last one," Shanahan said Tuesday from the NFL Scouting Combine. "The last one was a bigger loss, I mean at the end and stuff. I just thought we were a better team. The hardest thing for me is I thought we were the best team in the NFL.
"And when you really believe that, and I thought it for a while, it wasn't just like the last couple weeks of the year. In Atlanta, we kind of got hot at the end of the year, so I felt pretty fortunate."
Shanahan's 2016 Falcons and his 2019 49ers entered the playoffs with a first-round bye. The difference is that the 49ers started the 2019 season with an 8-0 run, and finished with a 13-3 regular-season record, clinching the No. 1 seed.
The 2016 Falcons, however, had a 5-3 record at the halfway point. Atlanta won its last four straight games to clinch the No. 2 seed, but played two playoff home games only because the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys lost in the divisional round to the Green Bay Packers.
The 49ers have come a long way under Shanahan. They had a fourth-quarter lead in the Super Bowl after winning the 10 games the previous two seasons, but it's difficult to focus on the journey following a painful ending.
"This year I thought we had it," Shanahan said. "We were the second-worst team in the league last year, and now we got to live with being the second-best, which I'm proud of. But that is harder, because I truly believe it was there for us."
Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl loss with 49ers lingers more than Falcons' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area