Robert Saleh Believes Super Bowl Inexperience Will Not Hinder Defense
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - For the first time since the 2015 season, the New England Patriots are not in the Super Bowl. Not only does this bring fresh blood to the biggest gameof the year, it allows for the crowning of a team that has not won it all in quite a while. The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs will meet in Miami on Feb. 2, and for most players, this will be their first shot at playing in a Super Bowl.
Just glancing at the defense alone makes the inexperience standout. Outside of Richard Sherman, the 49ers have no one with any Super Bowl history. That lack of experience on the defense could cause 49ers Nation a bit of anxiety heading into into Super Bowl LIV.
However, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes Super Bowl inexperience will not hinder the 49ers.
“I’d argue we've been playing championship games every single game,” Saleh said. “Every single week has been a championship game. Today is a championship day. If you approach your life in that regard and you stay in the championship moment, every single moment of your life, then leading up to the game, the days leading up to the game and the game itself will just become normal.”
The 49ers had plenty of “championship moments” this season. Their last three games alone fall under that category starting with Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks. Going into Seattle, a place the 49ers had not won since 2011, the division was on the line. They beat the Seahawks by literally inches then had no trouble beating the Vikings and Packers in the NFC playoffs.
"Staying in the championship moment."
From George Kittle's fourth-and-2 scamper in New Orleans, to Dre Greenlaw's goal-line tackle at Seattle to clinch the NFC West. , the 49ers proved no stage was too big.
At quick glance, the Chiefs have also played two one-sided games. Yet, what is lost in the final score is that Kansas City overcame double-digit deficits in the victories against the Texans and Titans. Although the 49ers’ record in one-score games is just 5-3, it’s a bit better than Kansas City’s 5-4 mark. Both of these teams have faced their fair share of intense moments, which supplements the lack of experience.
Despite playing in high-stakes games, both teams could very well still face some type of nerves prior to the game. The best way to alleviate any pressure is to go back to the basics that got them to this moment.
Kansas City will put the ball in Mahomes’ hands and let him work his magic. That’s how the Chiefs totaled 86 points in their two playoff victories.
The 49ers will want to run the ball and get after the quarterback. That’s what dismantled the Vikings and Packers, and that’s what gives them the best chance next Sunday.
At this time last year, San Francisco’s management saw something that most didn’t. The 49ers had a Super Bowl quality staff and roster, and decided to practice and play like they were one.
Right out the gate, they established a vaunted pass-rush, a dynamic run-game and a clutch two-minute offense. Despite their biggest test waiting in the wings, they are showing no signs of slowing down.