There are many matchups to look forward to in the Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. Today, we will focus on the Kansas City offense versus the San Francisco defense. Will our key matchups be more obvious, or under the radar? Many people believe these units overall, will be the most exciting thing to watch for entering Sunday. With that said, let’s get it started with our first of three key matchups.
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Chiefs Receivers vs 49ers Secondary
The Kansas City Chiefs are known for explosive, chunk plays on offense. Meanwhile, the 49ers defense does not give up very many dynamic plays. Very rarely, do they get beat over the top. For example, Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 14 touchdowns on throws 20+ yards downfield this season. San Francisco has allowed only 13 of those kind of completions this season, an NFL low.
Many would expect the Niners to double team either Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. Maybe both. Primarily, their defense runs a cover three scheme. We did see them utilize more man coverage in the playoffs, though. The speed of guys like Hill, Sammy Watkins, or even Mecole Hardman could provide a threat to the outside defenders. Despite not being beat deep much, it is possible. You have to believe Andy Reid will attempt to push the field vertically. Mahomes will take what is given to him, if it is indeed shorter passes. However, he will likely be eager to test the group of Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams, Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward.
The Chiefs weapons can be difficult to bring down, but the 49ers are good, sure tacklers. This is also true for their secondary. Being able to put a sustained licking on skill players is not something that all defensive backs are capable of doing.
Chiefs Offensive Line vs 49ers Defensive Line/Pass Rush
What pass rush has had the most success this season? It is very likely that of the Niners. They have continued to prioritize the defensive line early in drafts. They have selected four defensive linemen in the first round over the course of the last five years themselves. To boot, they added another former first round pick in Dee Ford, after acquiring him via trade from the Chiefs last spring.
The way in which they rush the passer is very diverse. Timing a late move right before the snap, forces offensive linemen to have to choose which guy to block. Furthermore, their speed and athletic abilities make blockers turn in circles. Once those linemen get moving laterally, they have no chance in slowing down the 49ers pass rushers. Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner pose as the biggest threats on the San Francisco side.
For the Chiefs, they did a splendid job of slowing down these guys when they met in Kansas City during 2018. Mitchell Schwartz has continued to be one of the best right tackles in the league. On the left side, Eric Fisher has been so vital to the Chiefs offense this season. They have not lost when he has been in the lineup this season. When he was out with injury, the offense went through lapses. Kansas City was settling for too many field goals, particularly in the red zone. Interior offensive linemen have struggled at times. However, they have been dominant during the playoffs. The Chiefs blockers will certainly have their hands full with the 49ers pass rush. But, they thrive under pressure (no pun intended).
Speed vs Speed
We have already talked about the Chiefs receivers and the 49ers pass rushers. Nonetheless, there will be a boatload of speed all over the field when these two units square off. For San Francisco, it is important how much speed and quickness they have at the linebacker position. Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander and Dre Greenlaw can make plays going from sideline to sideline. Or, they will fly up in between blockers and make a tackle for loss. I will say, that I do not think any linebacker can keep up with Kelce of the Chiefs. But if any group of linebackers can come close, it will be the 49ers.
On the flip side, the Chiefs speed can catch opposing defenders off guard, even that of the 49ers. Kansas City will likely look to pick and choose when to push the field, as we mentioned earlier. Will there be plenty of crossing routes? One would think so. Mahomes can also surprise with underrated speed if he takes off and runs. We saw that in both of the other playoff games. Just because both these Chiefs and 49ers units have the speed, it does not mean we will see it on full display. But if this becomes a high scoring shootout, the game could become quite entertaining.
Be on the lookout for our other three key matchups article, the Chiefs defense versus the 49ers offense. Then, we will have the Chiefs and 49ers Super Bowl preview to end the week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.