LAS VEGAS — It was just four years ago that the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers played in the Super Bowl, a game won by the Chiefs and a game that gave Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes his first Super Bowl victory.
Since Super Bowl LIV, Mahomes has won one more title, lost another and is trying to become a three-time Super Bowl winner this week against the same 49ers organization he already beat for a ring.
We are often asked what the first date means for this game?
There are only 17 players combined on the two teams that played in that game. But what’s even more telling is a look at the stat leaders from that game.
The leading passers were Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers and Mahomes for the Chiefs. The main boosters were Raheem Mostert for the 49ers and Damien Williams for the Chiefs. The leading receivers in terms of yards were Tyreek Hill for the Chiefs and Kendrick Bourne for the 49ers. There were four players in the game with interruptions. Three of these four players are gone.
The only constant?
That’s why I’m picking the Chiefs to beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII and repeat as Mahomes wins his third title, sending notice to Tom Brady that he’s coming for him. .
Kansas City Chiefs (+2) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 6:30pm ET (CBS, Nickelodeon, Paramount+)
This Chiefs team hasn’t been the stat-heavy offensive team we’ve come to expect from Mahomes, but he’s found a way to fix major issues on offense this season, including a poor kicking game and receivers who couldn’t carry the football. Now he has his team on the precipice of history.
The Chiefs would become the first back-to-back champions since the New England Patriots and Brady did it in 2003 and 2004.
While Mahomes hasn’t put up big numbers in the playoffs, he’s been consistent, skilled and made big plays when needed without making mistakes. The game manager? Hardly. But he hasn’t thrown a pick in three postseason games and has been sacked just three times behind a leaking offensive line. This is playing well at the moment.
That doesn’t mean Mahomes can’t get hot and carry this team, even with the problems. We know he can. But I think the Chiefs will start running the football in this game with Isiah Pacheco against a 49ers defense that has given up 5.6 rushing yards in the playoffs. The 49ers have been hurt trying to defend the run, getting pushed by the Green Pay Packers and Detroit Lions. Andy Reid is smart enough to know that this is where he needs to attack.
On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs have their best defense of the Mahomes era. Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is one of the best ever in the postseason, but he faces a tough challenge against the 49ers’ high-scoring offense. Spagnuolo likes to use a lot of nickel and dime looks, but you can bet the 49ers will attack this with Christian McCaffrey if he does. The Chiefs, like the 49ers, are vulnerable to the run and would be even more so if they don’t play more base defense.
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Then there’s 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, who is playing in his first Super Bowl. This is a game that could be his real proving ground for any remaining doubters. He’s been really good this season, putting his name in the MVP conversation for a bit. In the 49ers’ two postseason wins, he’s come up big with late-game drives. That’s how quarterbacks are defined, even if he struggled at times in those games.
Purdy has been outstanding against the Blitz this year — the no. 1 in the league — so Spagnuolo has to be creative with how he uses him. The boss’s second is the strength of the defense, and her disguises and late rotations can be huge in making Purdy hesitate a tick.
Early on, I see two teams running the football against weak rushing defenses. The game will close late. But in the end, it will be Muhammad’s time.
I see it now: 49ers lead by three, 20-17, Mahomes with the ball at his own 25 with 2:20 left in the game and two timeouts. From there, it’s Mahomes pulling off another magical moment, surgically carving through the 49ers’ defense to give the Chiefs a game-winning drive, even though the field goal would have tied it.
That would give Mahomes three Super Bowl wins in six years as a starter, with one loss in the big game. He could have easily played in two more, blowing a 21-3 lead over the Bengals in a playoff loss and seeing an offside penalty negate an interception that would have beaten the Patriots in an AFC championship game.
The man is on a mission. This mission is to dethrone Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time. But let’s make it bigger than that. He could be on his way to becoming the next Michael Jordan, leaving stars in his path without rings as he racks them up as the greatest to do so.
High praise for sure, but who are we to doubt Patrick Mahomes? I certainly won’t.
Select: Chiefs 24, 49 years 20
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