Super Bowl Pick ‘Em and Preview
Last Week: 2-0
Season Total: 73-26
The last game of the season is upon us and I’ll finish with either 73 or 74 wins out of 100. Since there is only one game this week, and since its the Super Bowl, I’ll provide some more in depth analysis in addition to the prediction. Let’s dive in.
San Francisco 49ers 13-3 at Kansas City Chiefs 12-4
Line: Kansas City -1.5
Injuries of Note:
San Francisco: RB Tevin Coleman, LB Kwon Alexander, S Jaquiski Tart questionable.
Kansas City: None
When The Chiefs Have The Ball: The Chiefs are heavy favorites in this game because of Patrick Mahomes, and only because of Mahomes. The 49ers are better at every other position on the field, except for the receivers and quarterback. It isn’t a surprise given the Super Bowls recent trend towards showcasing offensive football and the feel good stories surrounding Andy Reid and Mahomes. The Chiefs extraordinary receiving corps is the best way to allow Mahomes to attack the 49ers defense and it will likely be showcased early and often. I actually expect the Chiefs to try and establish the run early so that it will be there should they gain a two or three score lead, but Kansas City will live an die by the pass in this game. That brings us to the 49ers defense, which might be uniquely suited to containing this offense. Richard Sherman is the one thing that offensive coordinators can’t plan around, a true lock down cornerback and with Jimmy Ward covering the deep center it takes away a lot of the Chiefs better options. When the Chiefs attempt the deep throw it brings the 49ers pass rush into the equation and that could mean a few timely sacks against an inferior Chiefs offensive line. Ultimately the 49ers need Emmanuel Moseley to play at a relatively high level, else Mahomes will be able to isolate him and pick the defense apart slowly.
When The 49ers Have The Ball: The narrative surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo is eerily reminiscent of the one that surrounded Steve Young heading into the Super Bowl 25 years ago. Like the Young narrative, this one seems misguided, if not flat out wrong. Certainly the 49ers haven’t needed their quarterback to do much in the playoffs in order to win due to their running game and defense, but that could also be the case against the Chiefs. Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will have a plan in place but his teams have never fared well against Kyle Shanahan’s offenses and, given the 49ers talent differential on the defensive line, it seems like this is a losing battle for Kansas City. Perhaps their best chance to stop the 49ers running game is to open up a lead and try to run the clock down themselves thus forcing the 49ers to pass. When Garoppolo has passed, however, he has done quite well. There have been some ill timed interceptions and sacks but there have been many more tight ropes into coverage and third down conversions. Shanahan will scheme some receivers open like always and there is no reason to believe Garoppolo won’t continue to find them when he does. The X-factors for the Chiefs will be Chris Jones; Will he get penetration against 49ers center Ben Garland, and if so will the 49ers exploit the gap where he would have been with their trap game; and Tyrann Mathieu who is given a great deal of freedom to move about the defense which could create a timely turnover or stop.
Prediction: The 49ers need to be careful not to run out of defensive coverages early. They need to control both lines of scrimmage and slowly wear down the Chiefs so that they can sustain long drives in the second half. The Chiefs need to get up early and take away the 49ers balance on offense and hope for a turnover or two or simply hope that eventually the 49ers do, in fact, run out of coverages for Mahomes with enough time for the Chiefs to win late. Ultimately the 49ers defense has enough elite defensive players that I think they’ll make a big play or two late, either creating a turnover on downs or a regular turnover, and run out the clock to seal a hard fought victory. 49ers 38 Chiefs 27
MVP: Shanahan will put Garoppolo into enough good situations that he’ll shine and take the trophy to Disney Land.