Lions' Dan Campbell has brutal comment on team's future after 49ers' win

Detroit lost a heartbreaking NFC title game at San Francisco on Sunday.

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If there's one guarantee about the NFL, it's that there are no guarantees.

Teams and players should never take anything for granted, especially when it comes to advancing far in the playoffs. All it takes is one crucial injury, loss, coaching change or other moment for it all to end.

The Detroit Lions just became the latest victim of that, losing 34-31 at the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday.

Detroit led 24-7 at the half, but collapsed as San Francisco rallied with 27 unanswered points to eventually win the game and reach Super Bowl LVIII, a stage the Lions have never stepped on.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell had a brutal yet honest comment about the future of the team, as he shared his conversation with players to reporters after the game:

"Look, I told those guys, 'This may have been our only shot,'" Campbell said. "Do I think that? No...However, I know how hard it is to get here. I'm well aware. It's going to be twice as hard to get to this point next year than it was this year."

Two things can be true. Campbell's statement is correct, as some teams peak then fade away. It also might not have been the right message to say aloud to his team.

But the Lions could absolutely be back next year, as it was their stout rookie class who helped them go far in the first place.

Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, Brian Branch and Jack Campbell all played their parts on both sides of the ball, helping the Lions win their first ever NFC North title and reaching the conference title game for the first time since Jan. 12, 1992.

The Lions went 12-5 this year before eliminating the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home in the playoffs. They just couldn't hold on for one more half against a 49ers team who defeated every single team in the NFC bracket, regular season and postseason.

Some aspects that could derail Detroit is how Jared Goff fares under a new offensive coordinator if Ben Johnson leaves. Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers are also rising in the NFC North, while the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings remain relative unknowns due to their respective QB situations.

But for now, Campbell and Co. will have to study where it went wrong and find ways to improve on the margins for 2024.

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