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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports


Five Keys to Victory and Score Prediction: Super Bowl Edition

Matt Andruscavage
Feb 1, 2020 at 12:55 PM1



It is Super Bowl weekend and the San Francisco 49ers are not on the outside looking in! For the seventh time in history, the 49ers will take the field on the world's biggest stage and compete for a Super Bowl championship against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Both teams have been tremendous all season. The Chiefs have star power at quarterback in the reigning MVP (for a few more hours) Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City is loaded with offensive stars and have some playmakers on defense. San Francisco has one of the top defenses in the NFL, a very capable quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, and a balanced offense that has showcased the ground game as of late. This should be one of the best Super Bowls we have witnessed over the last 25 years.

There have been a lot of things built up for the last two weeks as far as a common "media narrative" and I'm here to tell you: DO NOT BUY INTO IT!

Many in the media believe the Chiefs will not only win, but win big. This has been boiled down to what they believe is a lopsided quarterback matchup and is largely due to the 49ers and their ground game being the driving force behind their offenses in two playoff games, rather than big fantasy-football-type outings by Garoppolo. It all seems very simple. Since the 49ers don't seem to have a good passing game, the Chiefs will stop the run (after all, they stopped Derrick Henry, right?) and make Garoppolo have to beat them, which in their minds, he can't.

While there have been some amazing parallels between this year's 49ers team and those of 1981, 1984, 1994 and perhaps others, I'm only going to talk about one of them. I know there are several observant 49er fans out there who have noticed this right out of the gate, but not everyone was fortunate enough to watch Joe Montana during the glory years of the 1980s. The parallel I will bring up is Super Bowl 19 against Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. During the week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, members of the media presented a very similar narrative as they stated that no one could stop Marino, the "Marks Brothers", and that Dolphin passing attack that produced 48 touchdowns and almost 5,100 yards during the 1984 season, something that had never been seen before. Joe Montana was referred to as a "wimpy quarterback."

When the teams took the field, it was close at first, as the Dolphins led 10-7 after the first quarter. After that, San Francisco took control. The balanced offense of the 49ers scored 21 points in the second quarter and for the rest of the game, the defense pressured Dan Marino and began to knock him around. When it was all said and done, the 49ers won the game 38-16 and guard Randy Cross was filmed by NFL Films as he said, "You all came to see an offense and the wrong one showed up!"

While I'm not saying that the 49ers will blow out the Chiefs, I am saying not only can San Francisco win the game, but could win by more than ten points.

When and Where: Sunday February 2, 2020 - 3:30 PM PST - Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

Here are the keys to the game:

1) Control the Clock with a Balanced Offensive Attack


Like the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl 25 and the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl 36, Kansas City has a great offense. The best defense is to keep that opposing offense on the bench. Patrick Mahomes cannot score if he doesn't have the ball.

San Francisco has been running this type of game plan all season long. Against the Rams in Week 6, it kept the Rams' offense on the bench for a lot of the game as Jimmy Garoppolo led long drives that tired out the defense and killed the clock. The 49ers repeated this against the Panthers, Cardinals, Packers and the Seahawks. In the playoffs, once the ground game got started, the offense stayed with it, not because Shanahan didn't trust Garoppolo as some have suggested, but what better way is there to kill the clock and tire out the defense? This ridiculous media narrative that somehow Kyle Shanahan has lost confidence or trust in Garoppolo has been shaping how the media feels about this game and it all stems from the fact that San Francisco did not NEED to pass during the second half of both playoff games.

Against the Chiefs' 26th ranked rushing defense, the 49ers have a great opportunity to run the football as they have done all through the playoffs. Kansas City will certainly sell out to stop the run and that's where the best play-action offense in the league can do damage. If the Chiefs send too many men to stop the run, Garoppolo will kill them in play-action, out of which the offense likes to operate, as seen by the highest rate of play-action plays in the NFL at 31%. If the 49ers can get their play-action game going after running the ball effectively, the offense will be able to sustain some long drives and score points. In turn, this will kill clock, keep Mahomes on the bench and do what Bill Belichick did against the Bills in 1990 and the Rams in 2001: Shorten the game.

Disclaimer: Don't think the 49ers cannot win this game if it turns into shootout-type game where Garoppolo has to pass more than 25 times. For more on why Jimmy Garoppolo is much better than you think, check out Al Sacco's gem from a few days ago.



2) Win on First Down


If the 49ers are going to get those long drives going on offense, they need to win on first down. Running the ball will help this, but San Francisco is very balanced and will throw a lot on first down. Matt Bowen did a great job of showing how good Garoppolo is on play-action on first down.



Kansas City will have a far better chance of getting its pass rush going if it can keep the Niners in third and long situations. Obviously, the 49ers are not dead in the water by any stretch in those situations, as they have been as good as anyone on third downs, but in a game like this, especially early, giving Garoppolo manageable third downs will go a long way in getting off to a good start. Winning on first down is the key to this success.

3) Pressure Patrick Mahomes and Keep Everything in Front of the Defense


While members of the media are completely disrespecting Garoppolo and the 49ers' passing attack, what they are not wrong about is how good Patrick Mahomes is. If San Francisco is going to win the game, the defense cannot allow Mahomes to have a clean pocket, nor can it allow him to make plays on the run. The 49ers' pass rush has to get home and bring the pressure.

In times past, great defenses have stopped great offenses largely because of pressure. Think back to the 2007 New England Patriots against the New York Giants. The Giants didn't just have good edge pressure. The defensive line had really good A and B gap pressure from the defensive tackles. This is where San Francisco has to be effective. If DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and whoever plays inside can get pressure up the middle, it will be much more difficult for Mahomes to step up into the pocket or even escape the pocket.

Kansas City can kill defenses with big plays. The 49ers defense must keep everything in front of it and limit chunk plays and of course, long plays. San Francisco has been effective in all of these areas all season, but the defense has to ensure that it can do it one more time.


4) Win the Turnover Battle


For the 49ers, getting stops on third down are as good as turnovers. They allow the offense to get the ball back and keep Mahomes on the bench. When the Niner offense has the ball, it cannot turn it over. If there is a weakness on the 49ers, it has been giveaways this season. Jimmy Garoppolo has had moments and brain cramps where he has made some bad throws. He then responds great and usually scores afterwards, but in a game like this, there cannot be any errant throws that can set up Mahomes with a short field.

This is the kind of game where the 49ers must win the time of possession and choke the life out of the Chiefs. Turnovers will give the Chiefs what they would need to overcome their shortcomings on defense as well as put their offense in a great position to do what it does best and score quickly.

If the 49ers are turnover free in this game, there are pretty good odds that we will see San Francisco bring home its sixth Lombardi Trophy.

5) Control the Line of Scrimmage


San Francisco has the better offensive and defensive lines in this matchup and will need to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Frank Clark and Chris Jones need to be kept from getting to Garoppolo and as stated above, the 49ers will need to get to Mahomes.

Typically, this is the formula to winning a Super Bowl. If the 49ers are controlling the line of scrimmage the way they have throughout the playoffs and many other times during the season, expect a victory. Otherwise, we could see Kansas City fulfill the promises of many in the media and put up a lot of points against the San Francisco defense.

Score Prediction


This game is too much like Super Bowl 19. The 49ers defense will pressure Mahomes and not only keep him from making big plays, but will cause him to struggle. Jimmy Garoppolo will once again rise to the occasion in the midst of media criticism and unfair biased narratives. The Kyle Shanahan-led offense will dominate the line of scrimmage, the clock, and make plenty of plays that will result in more points scored than most think possible.

The defense will play into the old narrative that defense wins championships as it sacks Mahomes at least six times, forces one turnover, and repeatedly forces a punt.

Jimmy Garoppolo will win the Super Bowl MVP and we will once again hear Randy Cross' quote in the background - "You all came to see an offense and the wrong one showed up!"

49ers 38, Chiefs 24
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


1 Comment

  • Wildkent
    it looks like the "hyped" media was much smarter than you.
    Feb 3, 2020 at 12:03 PM
    0

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