49ers vs. Chiefs: Super Bowl Competition LIV(es) On

This Sunday, Feb. 2, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs will compete in the 2020 Super Bowl championship.

The matchup between the Chiefs and the Niners has been greatly anticipated by fans; although they have not met in a Super Bowl before, the clash between San Francisco’s defense and Kansas City’s offense should make for an exciting game. The Niners’ defense is considered one of the strongest in the playoffs, while the Chiefs’ offense is stacked with some of the best talent in the league.

The Chiefs’ offense is led by three powerhouse players: Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes started with the Chiefs in 2017 as the tenth overall selection and played backup for a year to Alex Smith. Mahomes threw nineteen touchdowns during the regular season and eight during the postseason. In 2018, Mahomes was made the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and threw 50 touchdown passes in a single season, making history alongside Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the only players to throw at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season, which helped him earn the 2018 league MVP award.

Mahomes is also just an exciting player to watch; he makes big plays, executes near-impossible throws, and led the Chiefs in rushing during the AFC Championship game. His throwing skills have also enabled the team to adopt a more pass-oriented offensive strategy.

Tight end Travis Kelce is another dominant force on Kansas City’s offensive lineup. This will be Kelce’s seventh season playing for the Chiefs, and he holds the record for the most seasons with 1,000 yards received by a tight end in NFL history (4). During the 2019 season, Kelce also took the shortest time of any tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions. Kelce picked up 134 yards and ten passes during the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the Houston Texans, as well as received three passes for 30 yards in the AFC Championship game against the Titans. Kelce will be a dominant force against the 49ers this weekend.

Head coach Andy Reid has been extremely influential in rebuilding the Chiefs’ program and tailoring the team to qualify for the 2020 Super Bowl after a 50 year hiatus. Reid was hired in January of 2013, after parting with his fourteen-year job as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. This will be Reid’s first time back to the Super Bowl since he went with the Eagles in 2004.

Chiefs’ wide receiver Tyreek Hill will be playing amidst controversy this weekend. Last spring, Hill was accused of breaking his three-year-old son’s arm, although the charges have been dropped due to a lack of evidence. Hill, however, will take the field after scoring twice against the Titans in the AFC Championships and catching seven touchdown passes this season.

The Chiefs’ offensive lineup will likely meet a difficult matchup against the Niners’ defensive line. Under head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, the 49ers have obtained an outstanding roster of defensive players, especially with the number-two draft pick of rookie defensive end Nick Bosa.

The 49ers ended last season with a devastating 4-12 record after starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Game 3. Shanahan used the rest of the season as an opportunity to rebuild and strengthen the defensive line. Talented first-round draft picks such as defensive end Dee Ford and defensive tackles DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead solidified the defensive line and established a new trajectory for the team.

The Niners have a collective 44 sacks this season, and Bosa (9), Ford (6.5), Buckner (7.5), and Armstead (10) make San Francisco the only team in the NFL to have four or more players with at least 6.5 sacks. The combination of these four defenders has made the 49ers’ defense one of the most effective in the league, allowing only fifteen points per game this postseason and just over 19 during the regular season. 

Garoppolo has returned from last season’s ACL tear and will be the Niners’ starting quarterback on Sunday. San Francisco will likely call a fair amount of running plays, after ranking among the NFL’s top running teams during the regular season and leading all playoff teams in rushing yards. 

Running back Raheem Mostert has also set himself apart with 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. The NFC Championship was Mostert’s breakout game. He came close to breaking multiple all-time postseason records with his yardage, likely making him a key player in the Niners’ offensive strategy.

Although the Chiefs are slightly favored to win this year’s Super Bowl according to the SportsLine Projection Model, they still have a lot to prove. The Chiefs have not qualified to play in the Super Bowl for 50 years and have only one Lombardi Trophy from their victory against the Minnesota Vikings during Super Bowl IV. The 49ers have won five out of seven Super Bowl appearances. If they take the title this year, they will tie with the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history.

Super Bowl LIV will begin with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff on Sunday, Feb. 2. The championship will be held in South Florida in the Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.

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