Super Bowl 54 sees a huge matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. But, how have they got there?
Super Bowl 54 will entertain us with one of the most exciting matchups in recent memory. The Chiefs and 49ers meet in Miami for Super Bowl 54 for the first time. Both teams will finally show the world what NFL fans have been witnessing all season, excitement, composure and emotion. We take a look at how and why the Cheifs and 49ers have made it to Super Bowl 54.
What makes Super Bowl 54 so intriguing is that the Chiefs and 49ers have contrasting styles. Since Mahomes took over the KC offence they have been one of the most pass-heavy teams in the NFL. The 49ers, on the other hand, led all playoff teams in rushing yards in 2019.
Despite the contrasting playing styles between the two teams, there are some similarities.
Both teams have shown patience with coaching and the front office. The leadership contingent of both teams have taken what New England have modelled so successfully over the last two decades and tweaked it to fit their own schemes. The decision-makers have been given time and long contracts to try and solve their respective team’s problems.
Both teams also have immense speed. The Chiefs had the fastest average speed whereas the 49ers finished second. Speed is become more important and relevant in today’s NFL. Getting blistering pace on both sides of the ball, into dynamic and intense plays will become all the more important in critical situational plays.
We break down some key moments that have led the Chiefs and 49ers to the Super Bowl.
HOW THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS REACHED THE SUPER BOWL
The long wait in Kansas City is over. After 50 long, painful seasons they are back in the big one. Unlike the 49ers, the Chiefs have been threatening for a while. They have won the AFC West in the last four seasons and they narrowly lost the AFC Championship game in overtime last season to the New England Patriots.
Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes
Trading up to snatch Patrick Mahomes has been franchise defining. KC traded 2 first-round picks and a third-round pick to move up 17 spots and crucially above the New Orleans Saints, who the Chiefs knew were also interested in drafting Mahomes.
On Super Bowl opening night, it was revealed current General Manager Brett Veach called Mahomes the best draft prospect ever while scouting during the 2017 NFL draft.
The current league MVP was also drafted to Major League Baseball. Being picked 37th overall by the Detroit Tigers back in 2014. His position: Pitcher. Of course.
It’s important not to forget Alex Smith’s role in Pat Mahomes’ development. Sitting Mahomes in his first year allowed the Chiefs to work on his evolution and maturity, finding out what his weaknesses are and working on them. Alex Smith helped Mahomes to take the leap to become the franchise QB he is today.
Mahomes is in esteemed company as only himself, Dan Marino and Kurt Warner have won the league MVP and reached the Super Bowl in their first three seasons. He would be the first to do it under the age of 25.
The team isn’t all about Mahomes, but the team certainly revolves around him.
Andy Reid and Innovation
Andy Reid has to take a lot of credit when it comes to the success in KC. He is one of the winningest coaches to never win a Super Bowl. Whether he wins the Super Bowl or not he will be seen as one of the best coaches in NFL history.
The innovative mind of Andy Reid is reflected in his explosively built offence. Not afraid to make mistakes. Not afraid to be adventurous.
The Chiefs haven’t been afraid to be bold in recent years. They took a chance on Tyreek Hill, who they drafted in the fifth round.
Getting speed and energy into the team has been key for Andy Reid and the Chief’s front office. Whether it be Frank Clark, Tyrann Mathieu, Travis Kelce or Mecole Hardman, the Chiefs know what they want, they know what they need and they go and get it. This has meant the Kansas City Chiefs have been aggressive when assembling their roster. Currently, 10 players on their roster have landed in KC as part of a trade.
Notable mention also has to go to former GM John Dorsey who recruited a lot of KC’s key players such as Kelce, Hill and Mahomes. But, Dorsey and now Veach, are just carrying out Andy Reid’s ideology, finding the right attitude and physicality that fits the tireless mantra to become a Kansas City Chief.
The courage of Andy Reid and his coaching staff to stick to their own philosophy, to have the guts to do it their way and to be brave in the way they go about their jobs has landed them a spot in Super Bowl 54.
HOW THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS GOT HERE
It has been a long road for the San Francisco 49ers to get to the Super Bowl. Their first winning season since 2013 leaves them one win away from lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
If the 49ers do lift the Lombardi Trophy for the sixth time, they will equal the Patriots and Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins.
Even though the NFL is built on parity between teams, teams just don’t turn it around this quickly. After reaching Super Bowl 54, the 49ers have become only the third team in NFL history to have 4 wins or less, then go on to play in the Super Bowl the following season; only The 1988 Bengals and The 1999 Rams have done it previously.
The Draft = Super Bowl
The draft is make or break for all NFL teams. It has made the San Francisco 49ers. The draft has allowed the 49ers to lay the foundations to their success this season. 21 of the 49ers current 53 man roster were drafted by the 49ers. An additional 8 were undrafted free agents.
They have had top 10 picks in each of the last 4 drafts; picking Buckner (2016), Thomas (2017), McGlinchey (2018) and Bosa (2019).
First-round draft picks are not guarantees and for Shanahan and GM John Lynch to hit on so many picks is a credit to them and their scouting team.
The 49ers have also had success drafting in the later rounds. George Kittle, who some now claim to be the best tight end in the NFL, was selected in the fifth round in 2017!
Picking successfully through the draft has also allowed the 49ers to invest in key, experienced players such as Dee Ford, Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Sanders. To the 49ers player recruitment team. We salute you.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s Injury
Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury in 2018 has been the catalyst for the 49ers Super Bowl run. Wait, hear me out.
When Jimmy G was done for the season in week 3 of 2018, the season was over in the Bay area. Garoppolo sat out the rest of the that season giving him chance to master the Kyle Shanahan offence.
The Shanahan offence is different to what Garoppolo had been absorbing in New England. Being able to combine the knowledge of both schemes has allowed him to be the QB he is today.
Shanahan’s offensive scheme has a lot more pre-snap reads, shifts and options than Garoppolo was used to. When Garoppolo finally got his shot at a full season it allowed him to read opposing defences more effectively, be more composed and make the most of every opportunity.
The injury also meant the 49ers finished 2018 with only 4 wins and allowed them to pick second overall in the 2019 draft, picking a vital piece of the 49ers roster. Nick Bosa.
Nick Bosa has been the face of one of the most fearsome defensive fronts in the NFL. Bosa enjoyed 9 sacks in 2019, while Armstead and Buckner combined for 17.5 sacks between them. This production is exactly what Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh would be looking for, it is what they have paid for, as only the Jacksonville Jaguars are spending more on their defensive line (per overthecap.com). They do say defence wins championships.
The 49ers have combined defence, a run game and a quality quarterback. If you have these things, you are always going to give yourself a chance.
FEATURE CREDIT IMAGE: CHIEFS.COM
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