It all comes down to this: the San Francisco 49ers will face off against the Kansas City Chiefs for the Lombardi Trophy. Super Bowl 54 will have the 49ers and Chiefs playing in sunny Miami on Sunday.
Both teams have dominated throughout the season in their own ways. The 49ers have hammered their way through the NFC with their strong running game and tough defense. The Chiefs defense improved with Patrick Mahomes leading the charge on offense. Both teams have weapons everywhere on the field. These were the two of the best teams in the NFL facing off.
The styles of games are different between the two teams, which makes it that much more exciting to watch. One offense runs the ball while the other passes the ball. One defense has a stellar secondary while the other relies more on their front seven. It’s a game of matchups in the Super Bowl and it’s worth examining the biggest game of the year.
San Francisco 49ers (13-3, 1st NFC West)
The identity of this offense has been running the ball from the beginning of the season to the playoffs. Jimmy Garoppolo has not been asked to throw it a lot. He’s only had to throw for 208 yards in two playoff games. His arm should be fresh and ready to go on Sunday. The running game has been quite a sight with Raheem Mostert having a field day on defenses all playoffs long. George Kittle is arguable one of the best tight ends in the league. The receiving core led by Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders should provide plenty of speed.
There’s no secret about how good this defense is. Nick Bosa went from being rookie to one of the best defensive players in the league. Richard Sherman has led the secondary with his veteran leadership and ballhawking skills. The defense was number one in passing yards allowed. The game will be defined by how the secondary does agains the passing game. If the front seven can’t provide the appropriate pressure on Patrick Mahomes, it’ll be a long day for them.
Keys to Victory:
Offense – Execute play action fakes to perfection and get off to a big lead before the half.
Defense – Contain Patrick Mahomes and double cover Tyreek Hill.
Raheem Mostert, RB – His play in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers will be a tale told for years to come. Mostert ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the 49ers win. He single-handedly carried the offense to a Super Bowl appearance. He will be asked to do the same this weekend, but the Chiefs have seen this just two weeks ago with Derrick Henry.
Richard Sherman, CB – The legendary corner can add another chapter to his historical career in the Super Bowl. He will be asked to take care of Tyreek Hill and shut him down. He’s proven that even if he is over 30, he can still handle with the best of them. He’s already been a ballhawk in the postseason with interceptions in both playoff games. Expect more of that if Mahomes slings it around.
Kansas City Chiefs (12-4, 1st AFC West)
Patrick Mahomes is already an unwritten Super Bowl MVP should they win this game. He means everything to this offense and how they move the ball down the field. Damien Williams has provided a nice attack running, but not much has been shown by the running backs overall. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are top targets who are expected to have big games. The offensive line will have a tough task blocking the athletic defensive line of the 49ers.
Tyrann Mathieu has added some energy to this secondary that was much needed. He’s a hard hitter who will be used on blitzing situations from the safety position. Frank Clark’s addition should help add not only pressure on passing downs, but needs to come up big against the run. Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson need to play big from the linebacking position to shut down the 49ers’ running game.
Keys to Victory:
Offense – Unleash Patrick Mahomes and trust Mecole Hardman & Byron Pringle to make big plays in the passing game.
Defense – The 49ers need to throw eight defenders in the box and put the game in Jimmy Garoppolo’s hands.
Tyreek Hill, WR – This is fairly obvious how Hill could play a big role in this game. He has the ability to burn the roof off the defense with his speed. While his numbers have gone down this season, Richard Sherman will be tasked to cover one of the best deep threats in the league.
Frank Clark, DE – Clark has been doing a lot of talking off the field for the Chiefs. His actions have been doing a lot of talking on the field. The defense held Derrick Henry to just 69 yards after running for over 300 yards in the previous two playoff games. He will have to help stop the 49ers rush offense and force Jimmy Garoppolo to throw the ball.