49ers vs. Chiefs: What Are the Key Storylines for Super Bowl LIV?

What do the 49ers and Chiefs need to do to win the Super Bowl? We asked SI's team-channel reporters to break down their biggest keys to the big game.
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The stage is set for the biggest game of the year when the 49ers and Chiefs meet in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday. The matchup features San Francisco's top-ranked defense against Kansas City's dominant offense. 

Sunday will be the first time the teams have played each other since Sept. 23, 2018. The Chiefs won 38–27 at Arrowhead Stadium, but the 49ers suffered a huge blow that day when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL and went on to miss the rest of the season. 

The Chiefs punched their ticket to the Super Bowl by relying on their passing attack in a 35–24 victory over the Titans in the AFC Championship game. Superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes shredded Tennessee with 294 yards and three passing touchdowns. He also added a rushing score with a 27-yard scamper to the end zone late in the second quarter. One year after a devastating AFC Championship loss to the Patriots, Kansas City has finally ended its five-decade Super Bowl drought.

The 49ers entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and they lived up to the billing in their 37-20 romp over the Packers in the conference title game. San Francisco took an old-school approach and bullied the Packers with 285 rushing yards, while Garoppolo completed just six passes on eight attempts.

What do the 49ers and Chiefs need to do to take home the Lombardi Trophy from Miami? We asked SI's team-channel reporters for San Francisco and Kansas City to break down the biggest storylines for Super Bowl LIV.


San Francisco 49ers

Entering the Super Bowl, QB Jimmy Garoppolo has started only two postseason games. He has been to the Super Bowl before as Tom Brady's backup with the Patriots and won two championship rings in 2014 and 2016. Although Garoppolo performed up to his high-priced billing throughout the team's regular season, Sunday's contest is by far the biggest game he's ever started.

But the 49ers have relied on far more than just Garoppolo to reach this point. Their roster is rich with talented players. So how can San Francisco win its sixth Super Bowl in franchise history? What do the 49ers need to do if they hope to knock off Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs?

49ers Maven publisher Jose Luis Sanchez III takes a closer look at the keys to victory from San Francisco's perspective and why this year's game is the perfect Super Bowl matchup.


Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years after being on the big game's doorstep last year. Kansas City needing a home victory against New England in the AFC Championship to reach Atlanta, but the team fell short in overtime.

One year later, the Chiefs are headed to Miami for Super Bowl LIV. They face the 49ers' top defense that will try to stop QB Patrick Mahomes and their passing game. So how can Kansas City capture its first Super Bowl title since in 1970? What does Chiefs head coach Andy Reid need to do to beat 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan?

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