LAS VEGAS — Call the play the “San Fran Special” and call Jauan Jennings a could-have-been MVP.
Jennings made NFL history Sunday by becoming the second player to throw a touchdown pass and catch a touchdown pass in the same Super Bowl, when he executed a trick play late in the second quarter and then crossed the goal line for the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter for the 49ers.
None of it prevented the 49ers from losing, 25-22, to the Chiefs in overtime in Super Bowl 2024, however.
Jennings caught a lateral from Brock Purdy and tossed the ball back across the field to Christian McCaffrey, who was set up with a convoy of patient blockers.
The throw was a bit of a duck but did the trick when McCaffrey accelerated, split two defenders, ran 21 yards to the end zone and made up for his earlier lost fumble.
“I had to make sure I got behind the line of scrimmage so it’s a backwards pass,” Jennings said. “I had to look for the route across the middle. Then I turned back to throw to Christian and he was wide open.”
It was the first official pass attempt of Jennings’ three-year NFL career, but he was a four-star dual-threat high school quarterback recruit, as ranked by Rivals.com, before he was converted to receiver and became a quick contributor at Tennessee.
Jennings claimed he threw it once before — possibly wiped from box scores by a penalty — and video shows that the 49ers used the same play against the Bengals in 2018, with a different receiver throwing the pass.
“I threw it a little short the first time,” Jennings said.
The last time that a non-quarterback threw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl was “Philly Special,” which is commemorated with a statue outside of Lincoln Financial Field as the signature moment of the Eagles’ only Super Bowl victory.
Quarterback Nick Foles — the receiver on that play — is the other player with a touchdown catch and a touchdown pass in the same Super Bowl.
Jennings secured his place in history with a 10-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter after the 49ers bypassed a tying field goal and converted a risky fourth-and-3 on a catch by George Kittle.
Stay up to date with the Post’s coverage of Super Bowl 2024
Perhaps most impressively, Jennings, who finished with four catches for 42 yards, broke a tackle at the 3-yard line and fought across the goal line.
Often overshadowed in the receiving corps by do-it-all Deebo Samuel and 1,300-yard wideout Brandon Aiyuk, Jennings was responsible for one touchdown during the regular season.
But the Super Bowl was his breakout game.
“Jauan was incredible,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “I love his mentality — he’s always ready to step up and make big plays in big situations. He’s a guy we can count on.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan’s trickery helped the 49ers build a 10-0 lead at a time when they were dominating the box score but leaving too many points off the scoreboard. What is philosophy on trick plays?
“I think you have to be strategic,” Shanahan said during the lead-up to the game. “Not just be aggressive.”