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The one thing 49ers say is crucial to winning Super Bowl

The Detroit Lions already snapped a dubious postseason record for longest active postseason win drought. Detroit (14-5) is still one of four teams to have never appeared in a Super Bowl.

But the San Francisco 49ers (13-5) have a drought they want to end as well.

The 49ers have won five Super Bowls in franchise history. However, San Francisco hasn’t hoisted a Lombardi Trophy since the 1994 season, despite appearing in three consecutive NFC championship games and four conference titles in the past five years, plus a Super Bowl 54 appearance.

They’ll get another shot if they beat Detroit for the NFC title Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

“You always feel after, whether you lose a NFC championship, whether you lose a Super Bowl . . . after that it’s like, oh my God, that took so much and was so long to get there. How can you ever do that again?” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. ‘That’s why you go through your own little depression for a day, a week, a couple months, whatever it is.”

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Shanahan is 1-2 in NFC championship games as 49ers’ head coach. Shanahan’s 49ers lost two consecutive conference championships, all on the road. Their last NFC championship victory was when they hosted the conference title game during the 2019 season.

Sure, the 49ers finished last year’s NFC championship game with no healthy quarterbacks on their roster, which had a massive impact on the team’s performance. But players who experienced last season’s NFC title game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles believe playing on the road as a lower seed also had an impact.  

The 49ers went into this season on a mission to be the NFC’s No. 1 seed.

“The No. 1 seed is everything. It’s the easiest route to get to where you want to get. Having a first-week bye and only having to win two games to get into the Super Bowl versus having to win three games is huge,” 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead told USA TODAY Sports. “The year we did go to the Super Bowl in 2019, we were the No. 1 seed. I remember how crucial having that first-week bye was for us as a team. We were rolling heading into the playoffs. It’s definitely crucial.”

Will experience be a factor against a Lions franchise that snapped a 30-year playoff win drought just a few weeks ago?

“It could be used to our advantage. But my first NFC championship game back in 2019, was my first one. It was at home. I think more so the advantage is [to] play at home in front of our fans,” 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said. “Playing on our grass. Knowing exactly the environment that we’re playing in. That’s the advantage.”

The 49ers got what they wanted. They earned the top seed and are playing at home at Levi’s Stadium with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. But the question is: Will finish what they set out to do and end their franchise’s Super Bowl win drought? Or will the Lions finally end theirs?

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on X @TheTylerDragon.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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