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The Complete Super Bowl 54 Preview

A position by position breakdown and comparison of the Super Bowl matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, plus a final score prediction.


Quarterback:

Kansas City: Lamar Jackson will get the MVP at this season's award ceremony, and while he is much deserving, there is no doubt in my mind that Mahomes is the best player and quarterback in the world. In 2019 he might not have put up the same gaudy numbers as last season, but his growing experience and smarts are why he is in the Super Bowl. He simply can do it all: he's fast, accurate, and has an absolute cannon for an arm.

San Francisco: Like Mahomes, Garoppolo is making his first Super Bowl start, but it is not his first appearance in the big game, as he went twice with the Patriots as the backup to Tom Brady. That could play into keeping level headed and calm for the 28 year old. Jimmy G has been very strong all season long, but doesn't play as dominant a role in his offense as many other quarterbacks around the league.

Edge: Kansas City


Running Back:

Kansas City: The Chiefs had the tenth to least rushing yards in the league this year, and sixth to least rushing attempts. That is because of two reasons: One, they don't have a dominant back, and two, because they simply don't have to. Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy pretty evenly share the ball for KC, but neither got 500 rushing yards, and neither got at least 120 carries. They don't have a great backfield.

San Francisco: San Francisco rushed the ball 223 more times than the Chiefs in the regular season. Their total of 498 carries finished second to only the Baltimore Ravens. While you won't find a 49ers running back near the top of the leader boards in yards, their trio of Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, and Tevin Coleman prove scary to opposing defenses. Mostert has been the primary back as of late, but don't think that San Francisco is unwilling to use any of those three in a lead role, because they are.

Edge: San Francisco


Wide Receiver:

Kansas City: This Chiefs group of wide receivers simply has speed that is not matched anywhere else in the NFL. Their WR1, Tyreek Hill, once ran a 4.25 40 yard dash, and despite slightly less production than last season, is as dangerous as ever. The scary thing is though, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman can keep up with Hill pretty well in terms of speed. If you like deep threats, take a look at Hardman's YPR, which is 20.

San Francisco: This is a completely different wide receiver group than the one that the 49ers had in 2018. That is because of Deebo Samuel, and Emmanuel Sanders. Samuel, the second round pick out of South Carolina has turned out to be a total steal, and Sanders has been an absolutely perfect fit since being traded to San Francisco from the Denver Broncos.

Edge: Kansas City


Tight End:

Kansas City: There are no two ways about it: Travis Kelce is the best tight end in football. In his six year career he has missed just one game, and has had at least 1,000 yards in his past four seasons. There is no stopping him, you just have to try to contain him. He's fast, strong, and has great hands.

San Francisco: It it were anyone but Kelce on the other side, than George Kittle would be the better tight end. His emergence the past two seasons has been stunning, and he is Garoppolo's go to guy in pretty much every situation. Kittle does have a case to be superior to Kelce, as he is a better blocker, but I think the Chiefs tight end edges him out by just a bit here.

Edge: Kansas City


Offensive Line:

Kansas City: The Chiefs pressure rate in 2.5 seconds or less was second in the league behind only the New Orleans Saints. Unlike their pass protection though, the run blocking has been mediocre at best. Even with that, this is still a very underrated unit.

San Francisco: Having Joe Staley back at left tackle has been huge for this offensive line. He is a rock, and pretty much never gets beat. Jimmy Garoppolo does not need a ton of time in the pocket, and that is a great favor to this o-line.

Edge: Kansas City


Defensive Line:

Kansas City: Chris Jones and Frank Clark form a pretty strong duo on the defensive line. The sack numbers for the Chiefs are good, but their rush defense was especially poor this season. Interestingly enough though, they shut down a torrid Derrick Henry in the AFC Championship game. The difference with San Francisco though is that Jimmy Garoppolo is very capable throwing the ball, unlike Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

San Francisco: Jimmy Garoppolo called his season ending injury last year a blessing in disguise because the Niners were able to draft Nick Bosa second overall. He was right. Bosa is the likely defensive rookie of the year, and contender for defensive player of the year. It is not just him though, as Arik Armstead, the other star defensive end on the team, had 10 sacks on the year, and DeForest Buckner had 7.5 from the middle linebacker position. On a side note, their rush defense is pretty average.

Edge: San Francisco


Linebackers:

Kansas City: The Chiefs linebackers group is really weak. If the 49ers run game is working at the start of this game, then it could pose a really big problem for Kansas City. If San Francisco can get into a play action or RPO style game, it is likely they will completely be able to bully the Chiefs linebackers. This is the clear weak point on their team, as this group is truly one of the worst in the NFL.

San Francisco: The 49ers have a pretty solid mix of linebackers. Fred Warner highlights them with 89 tackles, while Kwon Alexander is another big name player. These guys are much better than their counterparts on the Kansas City side.

Edge: San Francisco


Secondary:

Kansas City: The Chiefs secondary was an under the radar strong point for this team, but it was pretty much solely because of their safeties. They had the fifth most interceptions in the league, and opposing offenses had the fourth lowest completion percentage against them in the NFL. Their safety duo of Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorensen has been very strong. Sorensen has been an absolute monster so far in the playoffs. The Chiefs give up a lot of completions though, and have some holes at the cornerback position.

San Francisco: The 49ers gave up the least amount of passing yards in the NFL this season, yet were bottom half in the league in interceptions. They simply don't need to turn the ball over. Their safeties are good, but it is their cornerbacks that set them apart. Richard Sherman's rise back to the top of football has been inspiring, and K'Waun Williams and Emmanuel Mosley are no slouches either. All three are top 30 cornerbacks in the league.

Edge: San Francisco


Special Teams:

Kansas City: The Chiefs have one of the best special teams in the league. Whoever is returning kickoffs and punts, whether it be Mecole Hardman is probably the most dangerous kick and punt returner in the league. Harrison Butker missed just one field goal this year inside of 50 yards.

San Francisco: Mitch Wishnowsky is not really a great punter, but Richie James is solid returning kicks. Robbie Gould continues to chug along, but his percentages are worse than normal, and he is pretty incapable of hitting field goals of around 50 or more yards.

Edge: Kansas City


Coaching:

Kansas City: Andy Reid is an innovator. Every season, and every game he is coming up with new plays to trick opposing defenses. He is also a risk taker. Despite 21 seasons as a head coach, and 15 playoff appearances, Andy Reid has been to just one Super Bowl, where as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he lost to the New England Patriots. Can he break the curse this year?

San Francisco: Kyle Shanahan, who might be Andy Reid's junior by twenty years, is much more old school in terms of his coaching style. His run first offense, which often includes more than one back, has been highly successful this season. Shanahan is in just his third year as head coach, and this is his first playoff appearance, never mind first time in the Super Bowl.

Edge: Kansas City


Prediction:

Chiefs: 31

49ers: 27






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