49ers’ Jennings becomes second player with a TD pass and catch in a Super Bowl

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) runs in a touchdown during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Doug Benc/AP Photo)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jauan Jennings’ historic Super Bowl milestone will turn into only a footnote after his San Francisco 49ers lost the game.

It doesn’t make what the backup receiver did any less impressive.

Jennings threw a touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey on a trick play in the first half and then caught a TD pass of his own in the second half of San Francisco’s 25-22 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. 

But he was in no mood to celebrate. 

“Anyone got a nail to step on? It hurts about that much,” he said.

Jennings was an unlikely star for the 49ers after catching only 19 passes in the regular season. He joined Philadelphia’s Nick Foles as the only players ever to catch a TD pass and throw one in a Super Bowl. 

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan shies away from using too many trick plays, believing in the ability of his offence to deliver without them.

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But he saved this one up for one of the biggest moments of the season. With San Francisco facing a second-and-10 from the Kansas City 21, Brock Purdy threw a quick lateral to Jennings on the left side.

Jennings immediately threw it back to the other side to McCaffrey, who had a convoy of blockers and ran in for a 21-yard TD to make it 10-0.

“We ran it in the past a number of times,” Shanahan said. “I thought it looked good today and I thought the guys did a hell of a job running that play.”

The score was just the sixth TD pass thrown by a non-quarterback in Super Bowl history with it happening three times in the past seven seasons.

Running back Joe Mixon threw the most recent one two years ago to Tee Higgins for Cincinnati against the Los Angeles Rams. Trey Burton had the famous “Philly Special” pass to Foles at the end of the first half in Super Bowl 52 for Philadelphia against New England.

The other non-quarterbacks with a TD pass in the Super Bowl are Antwaan Randle El for Pittsburgh against Seattle in Super Bowl 40, Lawrence McCutcheon for the Rams against Pittsburgh in Super Bowl 14 and Robert Newhouse for Dallas against Denver in Super Bowl 12. 

Jennings hadn’t thrown a pass in three seasons in the NFL. He threw five in college at Tennessee with two touchdowns. The previous one came on Oct. 8, 2016, when he threw a 4-yarder to Joshua Dobbs against Texas A&M. 

“It felt like I was back at University of Tennessee throwing to Josh Dobbs,” he said. “To make that play, I just want to thank my quarterback coach right now. I know he’s so proud right now.”

Jennings then went back to catching passes in the second half. His 10-yard reception where he bowled through defenders to score gave San Francisco a 16-13 lead early in the fourth quarter that the Niners couldn’t hold.

Jennings finished with four catches for 42 yards.

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