49ers defense sidelined in Super Bowl
John Gerchak, Staff Writer
Super Bowl LIV did not disappoint, seeing as both teams played extremely well. The San Francisco 49ers had recently dismantled the Packers in a dominating fashion, whereas the Kansas City Chiefs offense had been putting up enough points to cause their stadium to run out of fireworks.
Before the game, there was some speculation as to whether San-Francisco would decide the game at the line of scrimmage, and if their defense could consistently pressure the Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes, as well as if the 49ers offensive line could keep the running game alive long enough to keep Mahomes off of the field.
Through the first half, the 49ers looked to have both excellent offense and defense, and their running game was stellar. However, something many did not see coming was the strong plays by the Chief’s defense. They had been hot, though many speculated that much of that came as a by-product of the Chief’s offense forcing opponents to get risky, and to try and keep up with the speed at which they could score. This assumption was wrong, as it is clear that the Chiefs came out with an effective defensive game plan. This led them to play far above their weight class.
For the Chiefs to hold the 49ers at less than one-hundred and fifty yards with their line-backer core was incredible. That is not to say the 49ers defense did not play well. In fact, they did about as well as anyone who played a healthy Chiefs offense this year could. The defensive line got serious penetration the whole game, forcing Mahomes to roll out far more than he wanted to. While getting Mahomes out of the pocket did result in several inaccurate throws, it did not completely shut them down. This led to the game going into halftime tied at 10 points.
Coming out of the break, the 49ers started with the ball. They needed a long drawn out drive to end in a score to really get an advantage. They ended up taking over five minutes off the clock and finished the drive with a field goal. This was a definite success, and most likely Jimmy Garoppolo’s most impressive passing performance of the night.
Mahomes’ first drive of the half was not as pretty. The 49ers pressure was strong, and while he was able to make a few nice throws out of the pocket, San-Francisco finally got home, forcing the ball out and onto the turf. While Kansas City was able to recover the ball, it left them in a really bad position. One poor decision by Mahomes later, the 49ers had their first turnover of the night.
With strong field position, Jimmy G and company marched down the field and absolutely dominated the Chiefs at the line of scrimmage, putting up seven points and extending their lead to double digits. At this point, Kansas City needed to answer soon before the situation got desperate. They then mounted a solid drive, moving the ball through the air and on the feet of Mahomes. However, one bad throw got popped up by receiver Tyreek Hill, and into the breadbasket of another defender, which cost them their second drive.
At this point, many fans thought the game was over, and I stopped paying attention, just waiting for the 49ers to run out the clock. However, that didn’t happen, and the ensuing drive came and went.
Within minutes the Chiefs were back on offense. Some were still worried that Mahomes might be too cautious, and really, who could blame him, throwing back to back picks in the biggest game of his career would make anyone think twice about trying to squeeze balls into tight coverages. Mahomes quickly put such fears to rest though, as he was not the least bit gun shy. He fired several shots down the field, and within three minutes, put seven points up on the board.
While the points were great the Chiefs still needed a stop, because if they did not stuff the 49ers run, it was going to take another Mahomes miracle to win. Strangely enough though, they did not need to stop the run all that much because the majority of the plays came over the air. Suddenly, the Chiefs had the ball again and almost no time had been taken off of the clock.
Now momentum had shifted in a big way, and it was Kansas City who was in a position to have a long drive and blow open the game.
While the drive did not end up being long, it sure was devastating. Sammy Watkins toasted Sherman in coverage, which brought the ball inside the red zone and gave the chiefs another score.
San Francisco got the ball again, but at this point, the Chiefs defense was electrified, and only a few looks were open, one of which Garoppolo missed badly. After a turnover on downs, the Chiefs tried to run out the clock but inadvertently added insult to injury by putting up another touchdown with just over a minute left on the clock. In an act of despair, Jimmy returned Patrick’s favor and threw an ugly interception to seal the game.
This game was exactly the kind of Superbowl the NFL needed. It was not a shootout and it was not a snooze fest. Solid offense and defense were played by both teams, and for the majority of the game it felt as though either team could win. Congratulations to the Chiefs; it has been quite a while since Kansas City has brought home the title, and boy did they earn it.