MIAMI – All the hype will end on Sunday evening and the actual game at Super Bowl 2020 will be played.
The chiefs and 49ers have talked enough. Now they can play.
This feels like a good matchup between one of the best players in the NFL – quarterback Patrick Mahomes – and one of the game's best defenders – the 49ers. Although this is the marquee matchup in this game, there are many other interesting fights that take place all over the field and between coaches with headsets.
Chiefs fit offensive against 49ers pass defense
This is the matchup everyone has been waiting for. It is strength against strength. Mahomes didn't set the breathtaking numbers he did as MVP winner a year ago, but he was still very impressive. He completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Chiefs had missed No. 5 in the NFL and the offensive line kept Mahomes clean – leaving only 25 sacks left for the third lowest in the NFL.
Mahomes is not only great, he has a lot of weapons around. Tight end Travis Kelce again covered more than 1,000 meters this season and picked up 97 passes for 1,229 meters and five touchdowns. Tyreek Hill (58-860-7) and Sammy Watkins (52-673-3) are game breakers.
The 49ers counter with the number 1 pass defense in the NFL and only allow 169.2 meters per game through the air. San Francisco has a violent rush of passports led by newcomer Nick Bosa (nine sacks) and Arik Armstead (10). In the backend, Richard Sherman is still one of the best cornerbacks in the game.
Chiefs go on the offensive, 49ers on the defensive
The Chiefs are a passable team that relies on Mahomes' arm, but they do have some productivity from the setbacks of Damien Williams (111 rushes, 498 yards, five touchdowns) and LeSean McCoy (101-465-4) , Mahomes can also do damage if he goes out of the race.
You'd think the 49ers defense would have been better against the barrel this year with all those first-round draft picks on the defensive line, but they allowed 112.6 yards per game (17th in the NFL). They gave up 100 yards in 12 of their 16 regular season games. San Francisco has been better lately. Two of their best performances against this season's run have been achieved in the playoffs. The Vikings were in a hurry of 21 meters and the Packers were only 62.
49ers fit offensive against Chiefs Pass Defense
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was only used in a supporting role in the playoffs as San Francisco's running game set the direction. But Garoppolo's regular season should not be overlooked. He threw 27 touchdowns with 13 interceptions to 69.1 percent for 3,978 yards. Tight end George Kittle is the 49ers best weapon in passing. He's caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns this year and is a matchup nightmare for the defense.
Kansas City was the eighth best defense in the NFL that year. At the end you are led by tyrant Mathieu, who positions himself on the whole field. Steve Spagnuolo, chief defensive coordinator, might choose to use Mathieu to take Kittle with him. Kansas City has been tough against tough times this season.
Chris Jones (nine sacks) and Frank Clark (eight) lead the pass rush for the Chiefs and could get to Garoppolo.
49ers are offensive against Chiefs are defensive
The 49ers had the second most common offense in the NFL thanks to a committee of setbacks, a strong offensive line and the creative play of coach Kyle Shanahan. San Francisco averaged 144.1 yards per game, scoring the top 23 touchdowns in the NFL.
The star of the NFC championship game and one of the favorites of the Super Bowl week was Raheem Mostert, a journeyman who hurried by 220 yards and four touchdowns in defeating the Packers. But Mostert is not the only back the chiefs have to be prepared for. Tevin Coleman (137 rushes, 544 yards, six TDs) and Matt Breida (123-623-1) will also see time.
Stopping the run has been a weakness for most of the season this season, but they have improved dramatically lately. In the AFC championship game, they stopped Titan star Derrick Henry (69 yards, a TD), who had looked unstoppable. This is another challenge for the chiefs. Henry ran downhill and up the middle. The 49ers have speed and can get to the edge.
In Dave Toub, the bosses have one of the most respected coordinators for special teams in football. Rookie returnee Mecole Hardman is a huge weapon that returns an average of 26.1 yards per kick this season with one touchdown. Harrison Butker missed four field goals in 38 attempts. The 49ers have an experienced kicker in Robbie Gould who missed eight field goal attempts this season, but four were 50 yards or more.
This game features two of the best offensive heads in the NFL. Andy Reid has the sixth most wins in NFL history and has his teams consistently in the playoffs. The only thing left for Reid is the elusive Super Bowl title. Kyle Shanahan is 21 years younger than Reid. He may soon replace Reid as the best offensive mind in the game. His creativity in running game distinguishes him from many of his colleagues. Nevertheless, the old master can teach him something in this game.
The Chiefs had to face the disappointment that they approached the Super Bowl last year and then came up short. When they lost in the AFC title fight a year ago, it was clear that the Super Bowl was a realistic goal this season. The 49ers were more of a surprise team that might be ready to start a long success story. San Francisco may just be happy to be here. The chiefs have been thinking about this game for a year.
You can find more information about the jets in the latest episode of the podcast "Gang’s All Here":