Why the 49ers are Well-Equipped to Contain Travis Kelce
Jose Luis Sanchez III
MIAMI, Flor. - One of the things that makes Super Bowl LIV such an exciting matchup is because it will involve the top two tight ends in the league: George Kittle and Travis Kelce.
Both players pose a serious threat against the opposition as defenses have struggled to keep them contained. Whether it is by a lack of talent or just plain poor execution. Bottling up these phenomenal tight ends demands perfection.
However, if there is any defense that is capable of putting the clamps on one of these tight ends, it's the 49ers against Kelce. This defense is well-equipped to contain Kelce and give him fits throughout the game.
The 49ers have done profound job all season long at limiting an opposition's top offensive players. Just looking at what they have done the last two weeks is a testament to that. From shutting down Dalvin Cook, to keeping Aaron Rodgers away from being great. This defense plays a sound scheme and has the pieces to handle whatever is thrown at them.
"We're really smart." Said linebacker Kwon Alexander. "Our whole defense is smart. We work hard, study hard, then we put it in. By the time it gets to gameday, we already know what's going on."
Being able to play in the defensive scheme of Robert Saleh is not for the feint of heart. Football IQ needs to be high, along with playing fast and physical. It's been one of the messages that Saleh has preached to his defense all season long.
"The way that we're coached up." Said linebacker Dre Greenlaw. "We got a bunch of great coaches that understand the game to put us in position to make plays. We got the right guys that love to hunt and play football. When you mix coaching with great players that love to play football, then it's going to be hard for anybody to against us. We're hungry and we're ready to play."
Like Greenlaw said, the coaching along with great players is big part of why this defense has been so successful. It never mattered what quarterback they were facing or what receiver was placed in front of them. The 49ers' defense has a knack at taking away an offense's best weapon. However, the defense will find things enormously different in this matchup because of Patrick Mahomes.
The guy is the perfect illustration of the saying "freak of nature". Kelce is a great player no matter who is throwing him the ball, but throw in Mahomes and all of a sudden his level of play elevates. It's one of the reasons why the defense of the 49ers against the offense of the Chiefs is highly anticipated.
Generally, defenses tend to get the nod in these games when it's top defense against offense. However, it would be naive to think it is as simple as that with Mahomes throwing to Kelce. It'll be a challenge, but the 49ers' defense is ready for the task at hand. Having the last two weeks to rest and prepare for Kelce and the Chiefs offense helps out tremendously, especially for the pass rush.
The pass rush of the 49ers will play a pivotal role in making sure Kelce is minimized in the plan. Even if they cannot get there consistently, Robert Saleh is sure to have the right foundations in place to handle him.
"Our guys just buy into the gameplan." Said cornerback K'Waun Williams. "Those guys are ready to execute and run around. We have fun."
No matter which player gets asked, each and every one of them will bring up the hunger of the defense. That everyone buys in and believes in each other. It says a lot about the culture of this team that they buy in so easily to what the coaches are selling.
Travis Kelce against the defense of the 49ers will be an exciting matchup to watch. It won't be an easy one to handle for the 49ers, but they are well-equipped with the right players and coaches to create the right plan to contain him.