Five Reasons 49ers vs. Chiefs is the Perfect Super Bowl Matchup
The tickets are punched, the bags are packed and all that’s left for the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs is to play the waiting game until February 2nd.
There are plenty of storylines to keep an eye on and the juxtaposition of the two squads makes for a very intriguing Super Bowl matchup. On paper, the game should come down to the wire which is how every championship should be. Great moments are born in close contests and with how evenly matched the 49ers and Chiefs are, this could be one for the ages.
Below are five reasons why the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs is the perfect Super Bowl matchup.
Analytics vs. Old School Football
Those who have paid close attention to the football world in recent years know that there is an ongoing battle between analytics in the sport and the “old school” methodologies. Traditionalists believe that a ground and pound style of offense is the way to win a ball game, while the researchers point to the efficiencies involved in the passing game.
Last week, the analytics people were overjoyed as the Titans - who are led by running back Derrick Henry - were outscored by the Chiefs prolific passing attack. On the other hand, the 49ers booked their trip to Miami with 285 rushing yards and only completed six passing attempts. Thus, the debate continues as each side has a new case study to support their claim.
During the regular season, Kansas City ranked fifth in the NFL with 281.1 passing yards per game while San Francisco’s 144.1 rushing yards per game was the second-highest in the league. These trends have continued in the postseason as the Chiefs’ 304 yards per game in the air is the second-most among playoff teams, and the 49ers’ 235.5 yards per game on the ground leads such teams.
With last weekend coming to a wash, the Super Bowl will serve as the rubber match between the stat nerds and old-timers. Finally, we will have an end to the long-standing debate...or at least until next year.
Contrasting Styles of Structuring a Team
Kansas City has focused on building up the team’s offense while San Francisco has placed an emphasis on defense. In recent years, the majority of the Red and Gold’s first-round picks have been on the defensive side of the ball - Nick Bosa, DeForest Bucker, Arik Armstead, and so on.
After unloading a significant amount of draft capital to trade up for quarterback Patrick Mahomes a few years ago, the “Legion of Zoom” hasn’t been able to use very many first-round picks recently, but the team still heavily invests in its offense.
According to Spotrac.com, the Chiefs spent about $80 million or 42 percent of their cap space on offense this season and that’s with the team’s quarterback on a rookie contract. Meanwhile, they spent about $56 million or 29 percent of the cap on defense which is the fourth-fewest amount of money spent on that side of the ball.
San Francisco, on the other hand, invested about $92 million or 40 percent of the team’s cap space on defense which is the third-most in the league. Granted, the 49ers dollar for dollar spend more money than Kansas City does on offense, but there is a much wider gap in how the latter spends its money compared to the former.
This game can provide more insight into what’s more important when building a team, investing heavily in getting more stops or putting up as many points as possible? We may think we know the answer but that’s the beauty of football and sports in general. Once everyone thinks there is a definitive solution, something happens and contradicts our previous conclusions.
Andy Reid vs. Kyle Shanahan
As much as Reid and Shanahan differ from one another, they also share a handful of similarities. With 21 years separating the opposing coaches, this matchup pits the older head coach who has stood the test of time and is well renowned for his offensive genius, against the young up and comer who one day could be viewed in the same light if he isn’t already.
Both guys will also be looking to shake the demons that plagued them the last time they were on this stage. Super Bowl 51 will forever live in infamy for Shanahan as he was a key component to the Falcons blowing a late 28 to 3 lead.
For Reid, not transitioning to an up-tempo offense down 10 in the fourth quarter to give his team ample time for a game-winning or tying drive in Super Bowl 39 has to haunt him. Coincidentally, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady were the beneficiaries of the coaches’ miscues.
This time around, both Reid and Shanahan will be looking for redemption and the loser might get the “choke artist” label attached to him.
Dee Ford Revenge Game
Back in March, edge defender Dee Ford was traded from Kansas City to San Francisco. Now, he gets a chance to play his former employer in the biggest game of the year.
While the pass rusher stated earlier this week that “there is no love lost” between him and the Chiefs, it’s human nature to want the upper hand in this situation and show your “ex” what they are missing.
Granted, he battled injuries this season but Ford had fewer sacks and quarterback pressures in 2019 than he did in 2018, so right now, it looks like Kansas City got the better end of the deal. However, next weekend can dramatically change that perception.
Kansas City’s Offensive Line vs. San Francisco’s Pass Rush
It should come as no surprise that the Super Bowl features two Goliaths and the battle in the trenches might be the best example of how evenly matched these teams are.
With how impressive both sides are up front, next Sunday will be a contest of which unit gives in first and that will go a long way towards deciding what team gets to sit on the throne as champions.