Back before the season started and Khalil Mack was on the trading block from Oakland, the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers were two of the teams in hottest pursuit of the star pass rusher.
The Bears won that competition and are headed to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, while the 49ers are headed to another disappointing finish thanks in part to a lack of defensive playmakers.
"You never know 100 percent when you're right in the middle of it, because there's so many different rumors that fly around," Bears coach Matt Nagy said about the competition for Mack. "We were just concerned with what we could control, and making sure we did everything we possibly could to get him, and that's what we did."
The 49ers (4-10) will get to see what they missed out on in person in their home finale on Sunday against Mack and the NFC North champion Bears (10-4).
The Niners believed they offered a more lucrative package for Mack than the deal the Bears made for a package that featured two first-round picks. But the Raiders ultimately decided to send Mack halfway across the country instead of down the street.
"I think you'd have to ask the Raiders," coach Kyle Shanahan said when asked why the deal didn't get done. "But, it takes two teams to get it done and we went as hard as we could on it."
Mack would have provided a big boost in San Francisco, where the Niners have generated an NFL-low five takeaways and are on pace for the fewest ever in a season.
With Mack forcing a league-high six fumbles and providing pressure that has led to some of Chicago's league-best 26 interceptions, the Bears lead the NFL with 35 takeaways and 107 points off turnovers.
"I thought they were very good last year," Shanahan said. "They've always had a good scheme, and then they added an elite player. Their whole defense has played in this scheme another year. They've stayed healthy, which makes everyone get better, which I thought they were close to one of the better ones last year. Then, you add in a guy like Khalil and the results are pretty predictable."