This year’s Super Bowl seems to be a passing of the guard in the NFL. Two new quarterbacks will be featured this year–Tom Brady’s understudy, Jimmy Garoppolo and third-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This is a stark difference from past Super Bowls which included the likes of Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning.
The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers haven’t won a Super Bowl in a combined 75 years, it will be interesting to see if the 49ers can return to their winning ways or if the Chiefs will become 2 for 2 in Super Bowl games.
Jimmy Garoppolo led the offense for the 49ers this season, totaling 3,978 yards with a 69 percent completion rate. He was assisted by star tight end George Kittle who was named first-team All-Pro and broke 1,000 receiving yards this season. However, the 49ers would not be where they are now if it wasn’t for the incredible year that the defense is having. They were the second-best defense in terms of yards per game and the best against the pass. The 49ers also have the second-best third-down conversion defense and the Chiefs have the number one third-down conversion offense. So something will give when it comes to third-down success rate.
A key stat line to focus on in this game is how many sacks the 49ers are able to get. They had 48 during the season, tied for fifth in the league. On the other hand, the Chiefs only allowed 25 sacks all year. San Francisco’s ability to contain and takedown Mahomes will certainly be a game-changer for this Super Bowl.
Flipping to the other side, the Chiefs are also led by quarterback and tight-end pairing Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. Their offense ranks fifth in terms of points scored with most of their damage being done through the air. Two players to focus on will be the 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill; how the coaches choose to combat the Chiefs passing attack will be engaging. Keep an eye out to see if Sherman shadows Hill all over the field because neutralizing him is a key to slowing down the Chief’s dynamic offense.
The Chiefs defense has not been the greatest, particularly against the run, a polar opposite of the number two rushing offense that the 49ers have. However, this postseason the Chiefs haven’t allowed more than 100 yards rushing. Which Chiefs defense decides to show up will play a huge factor in deciding the outcome of the game.
Talking to students on campus, the majority of people I spoke to were rooting for the Chiefs.
“Mahomes getting a ring at his age would be sick. I also think that Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are some of the best players at their positions in the league,” said Latzi Balint.
Kyle McPhillips is rooting for the Chiefs because he enjoys their spontaneity and fast-paced plays. “ I enjoy the explosiveness of the offense and how many weapons they have. They have all the capability to make huge plays considering they have two of the fastest players in the league and a quarterback who is capable of making all kinds of throws.”
There were plenty of 49ers fans too. Reece Anderson is rooting for the long-time underdog. “Their team this year has proven that we deserve the Super Bowl, especially after so many people doubted us. Even though I’m from the United Kingdom I have supported the 49ers for a long time now and I want to see them win,” said Anderson.
Some fans are in to support their favorite players. Seamus Brennan is a Patrick Mahomes fanatic: “He is just a different hybrid of a quarterback and has so many different weapons.”
“Richard Sherman because he’s above 30 years old and having a career year. I used to not like him mainly because I dislike the Seahawks and I normally support the Green Bay Packers. I’m glad the Seahawks replaced him with a guy with one less hand,” said senior Ross Whitehead.
Super Bowl LIV will air Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.