Here it is! What everyone has been waiting for! PU’s analysis of the Super Bowl!
Super Bowl IV is one of the most unexpected meet ups in many years. At the beginning of the season, no one would have thought that San Francisco would be in the Conference Championship game, not to say the Super Bowl. Kansas City was expected to compete for the Conference Title, but that it would be either the Pats or Ravens in the Super Bowl. Now, it is safe to say that we are seeing a changing of the guard.
This Super Bowl presents great match ups of offenses versus defenses. The Kansas City offense led by QB Mahomes versus the SF defense led by Richard Sherman and Nick Bosa and the SF offense led by Garappolo versus a Chief defense that is solid, but has no true standout players.
So with that, let’s look at the game.
San Francisco Offense
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be leading the offense for the 49rs. He is a capable performer who learned his trade at the foot of Tom Brady. Though not having the talent of Patrick Mahomes, he does not need it. His supporting cast more than makes up for what he is lacking.
Ideally for the 49ers, Garroppolo will not have to carry the load on his shoulders during the game. He has the second best rushing offense in the NFL to rely upon. If they can perform like against Green Bay and leave Garroppolo with only having to throw eight passes the entire game, it will be a ball control game keeping Mahomes off the field and putting the 9ers well on their to victory.
The 49er approach to the game should be simple. They will serve up lots of pre-snap motion mixed with misdirection, and control of the line of scrimmage using Joe Staley, Laken Tomlinson, Ben Garland, Mike Person, Mike McGlinchey, Kyle Juszcyk, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders and Kendrick Bourne rotating in and out to keep them fresh.
Raheem Mostert will head the backfield with Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman available when Mostert needs a rest. Behind the strong line, this will allow Mostert to have another monster of a game. If he can and the others can rush for anywhere near the 235 yards that the 49ers have been averaging throughout the playoffs, it will be a long day for the Chiefs since every time a team has rushed for 200 yards in the game, they have won.
The 49ers will be offering a variety of formations to free up Mostert and keeping the Chief defense off guard. This should allow for a balanced rushing attack for San Francisco and if necessary, free up the passing game with George Kittle as the primary target of Garoppolo through the use of play action passes.
Watch for the play of fullback Juszcyk. He has been used all season as a “decepticon” lining up in eight different positions through the season. He has only carried the ball 23 times all season for just 1 touchdown, but now would be the perfect time to use him and get him a second touchdown for the year.
The 49er line has been awesome protecting Garoppolo all year while opening up holes for Mostert. They have performed well against the tough defenses of the Rams, Seahawks, Ravens, and Saints, finishing14th overall at the end of the regular season in the Pro Football Focus ranking of all 32 offensive line units. If Garoppola can get the ball out quick to his bevy of receivers, the offensive line should have great success against the Chief defensive line.
Kansas City Defense
For the Chiefs to win, the defense is going to have to step up and stop the 49er offense. This will be a very tough task to undertake though they have been much more impressive in the last few weeks of play.
The KC run defense has not been among the best in the league this year. Through the regular season, the run defense was one of the worst in the league, allowing an average of 128 yards per game, though they did hold Derrick Henry in check when playing the Titans.
This does not bode well for the Chiefs when playing the 49ers and the #2 rushing offense featuring Mostert. The good news is that over their last five games, they averaged giving up only 88 yards per game.
If the 49ers get their rushing game going, then KC will have a tough time stopping them and will have to devote more resources to doing so. That will leave Garoppollo free to pass to his receivers, especially Kittle, but he will have to contend with Pro Bowlers Chris Jones and Frank Clark, who together compiled 45 sacks during the regular season
The secondary has performed better than the defensive line. It is led by All Pro back Tyrann Mathieu and was the 8th best in the regular season with 16 interceptions.
Kansas City Offense
On offense, KC will be relying upon QB Patrick Mahomes to lead the way. The double threat Mahomes will be tough to reign with his ability to run and to make incredible passes unseen like ever before in the NFL. Once again, Mahomes ranked among the league’s elite signal-callers during the regular season — passing for 4,031 yards with a 26-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio and posting the second-best QBR (78.0) in the league.
For the post season, Mahomes has been performing at a level only the best quarterbacks ever see.He has a 95.5 QBR while completing 66 percent of his pass attempts for 615 yards with eight touchdown passes and zero interceptions. He also has 53 yards rushing in each of those games. The poise he has shown is worthy of Tom Brady or Joe Montana.
Mahomes rarely makes mistakes. He can defeat you passing or rushing, whatever is needed. And his ability to read defenses is exceptional. In other words, he has all the attributes of Super Bowling winning quarterbacks.
Mahomes will be targeting speedy receiversTyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. Sammy Watkins has upped his game in the post season along with Demarcus Robinson and will be other targets for Mahomes.
Add to them Mahomes favorite target Travis Kelce, the 49er secondary will be pressed to its limit to hold back the Chiefs.
Watch for running back Damien Williams , another speedster. Williams had two of the longest touchdown runs in the NFL this year, an 84-yard run in the Chiefs’ season finale against the Chargers and a 91-yard score against the Vikings in Week 9. He is also a threat coming out of the backfield with 62 receptions and 662 yards for 6 touchdowns.
In essence, the Chiefs can score any time that they have the ball from anywhere on the field. The 49ers have not seen this dangerous collection of talent this year.
The problem for the Chiefs is the 49er pass rush. But their offensive line held opposing teams to just 25 sacks during the regular season and were ranked among the best teams in pass protection.
The line is led by All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who hasn’t allowed a sack in 782 pass-blocking snaps this season. He has been helped by Mahomes ability to scramble. All of this will be needed to negate the 49er defense.
San Francisco Defense
Want to stop a team with a strong quarterback and passing offense? Get into a quarterback’s face and rattle him. This is what the 49ers excel at.
In 2019, the 49ers defense recorded 48 sacks during the regular season and 9 sacks in two playoff games, which was the sixth-most in the NFL. If they can pressure Mahomes into running, then his ability to pass will be downgraded, even with his stunning athletic ability. This could even give the 49er secondary the chance to get an interception or two, especially since they have one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
SF rushes just four defenders and are remarkable in their ability to get to the quarterback. The rest of the defensive unit drops back into coverage to stop the pass. It will be up to DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas are going to break down the offensive line to get to Mahomes. If they do so, then the Chiefs will have to stop using slow developing plays and will likely result to those plays which have Mahomes getting rid of the ball fast, or else running for yardage.
Watch for Richard Sherman to have his usual outstanding game. If he brings his A game, then he could have a pick or two allowing the 9ers to score 7-10 points off of them.
Nick Bosa at defensive end will be a major factor in this game. He will garner at least one sack and several hurries of Mahomes and force him to run.
I am not going to get into special teams play because anything can happen with them. (Also, at this point in time, I am getting tired of writing reviews.) But it will be the offenses and defenses who determine the outcome of this game.
PREDICTION: San Francisco 34 – Kansas City 27
Well, that is it for the year. PU is taking a well earned vacation from football until July. Enjoy the game tomorrow and hope you make money on your bets.