Three key factors that can lead Kansas City to a Super Bowl LIV Victory

Contain 49ers Lethal Pass Rush

Limiting San Francisco’s top-tier rush defense is something that Kansas City will have to do if they want to win this game.  San Francisco’s dominating pass rush of Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner has caused havoc all season for opposing quarterbacks.  The 49ers finished the season with 48 sacks, ranking 5th in the NFL. What is unique about this pass rush is that they can send four pass rushers every play.  Patrick Mahomes has been facing three pass rushers for a majority of the season because of opposing defenses sending seven back in coverage in an attempt to contain Kansas City’s high octane offense.  Patrick Mahomes has been able to take advantage of this tactic of sending three pass rushers by getting to the outside and picking up chunks of yards using his feet. San Francisco’s elite four-man rush is capable of containing the outside with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, keeping Mahomes inside the pocket.  Although Mahomes is dangerous from the pocket, his escapability allows him to create game-changing plays that astonishes opposing defenses. It will be crucial for Kansas City to keep Mahomes protected so that he can find the open receiver downfield. The Chiefs average depth of yards per route during the season was 12.7 yards.  Although the combination of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman consists of 4.3 speed, those routes still take time to develop. The number one thing that throws any quarterback off their rhythm is pressure. We saw this in the NFC championship with Aaron Rodgers, as he was bombarded with constant pressure throughout the entirety of the game.  If Kansas City wants to take deep shots down the field and gash San Francisco’s zone defense consistently, they must keep the 49ers pass rush at bay.

Stifle San Francisco’s Rushing Attack

The 49ers have strived off of their rushing attack for most of the season, and it was one of the main components of them locking up the one seed for the playoffs.  During the 49ers’ two-game playoff stretch, they have run the ball 76% of the time. This strategy keeps the opposing offense off the field, while keeping their own defense fresh on the sideline.  This is exactly what 49ers head coach Kyle Shannahan wants to achieve in this game against a ridiculously talented offensive attack in the Kansas City Chiefs. Shannahan’s complex run game has given opposing defenses fits throughout the season and eats away at the clock, limiting the amount of time that the other team has to put points on the board.  The best way to slow down Kansas City’s high powered offense is to leave them on the sidelines as spectators. This is exactly why the Chiefs must stop the 49ers in dominating time of possession and prevent the 49ers’ from consistently gashing them in the run game. Against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship, the 49ers averaged nearly 6.8 yards per carry, which is demoralizing to any defense.  This much success on the run game then opens up the play-action, opening the middle of the field for Jimmy Garrapolo to hit his wideouts. If Kansas City wants to control the pace of the game, they must first set the tone at the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball. 

Make Jimmy Garrappolo Uncomfortable

49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garrappolo thrives off the play-action pass and the short passing game. The 49ers will be content with rushing the ball every play and prevent Garoppolo from turning over the football. Stopping the run on first and second down will create third and long situations where Garroppolo has yet to convert on a regular basis. San Francisco threw the ball eight times in the NFC Championship and Garoppolo has been labeled as a game-manager for much of his career, especially this season as the 49ers have leaned on the run game.  Quarterbacks hate to face pressure, and Kansas City’s defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnola, is a mastermind in disguising multiple blitz packages that have confused quarterbacks throughout the season. Tyrann Mathieu is a swiss army knife in the secondary of the Chiefs defense and can play all over the field, including safety, slot corner and at times on the blitz as an extra pass rusher who is capable of blowing up plays before they even develop. Defense is not the only way the Chiefs can make an opposing quarterback uncomfortable. Kansas City’s offense can make a huge statement on this game if they jump out to a substantial lead. The last thing San Francisco wants to take part in is a shootout with superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has proved that he can put up points in bunches. Just ask the Houston Texans who were up 24-0 in the second quarter before Mahomes and the Chiefs responded with 28 points of their own within a 10-minute span. Jimmy Garrappolo has not been used as a gunslinger this season and has been questioned if he can lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory with his arm. If Kansas City can get San Francisco out of their game plan and force Garrappolo to throw the ball down the field, don’t be surprised if Garrappolo sends a throw or two into tight coverage, leading to a pick that can change the tone of the game.

laldpy@mail.umkc.edu

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