Super Bowl LIV (54)
Matchup: San Francisco 49ers (13-3, 1st NFC) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4, 2nd AFC)
Stadium: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Time: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2
TV Channel: Fox
TV Announcers: Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (color commentator)
Favorite: Kansas City Chiefs by 1.5
Over/Under: 54 total points
National Anthem: Demi Lovato
Half-time Performers: Jennifer Lopez, Shakira
San Francisco 49ers (13-3, 1st NFC West)
Head Coach: Kyle Shanahan
Points For: 479 (29.9 per game, 2nd of 32)
Points Against: 310 (19.4 per game, 8th of 32)
Preseason Super Bowl Odds: +4000
Super Bowl Wins: 5 (1982, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1995)
Key Players: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RB Raheem Mostert, TE George Kittle, DE Nick Bosa, DT Arik Armstead, CB Richard Sherman
Kansas City Chiefs (12-4, 1st AFC West)
Head Coach: Andy Reid
Points For: 451 (28.2 per game, 5th of 32)
Points Against: 308 (19.3 per game, 7th of 32)
Preseason Super Bowl Odds: +600
Super Bowl Wins: 1 (1970)
Key Players: QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, DT Chris Jones, S Tyrann Mathieu, OT Mitchell Schwartz
Tale of the Tape
A CONTRAST IN STYLES. The Super Bowl LIV matchup between the pass-heavy Kansas City Chiefs and the run-first San Francisco 49ers features a clash in styles. The 49ers (13-3) are one of just two teams this season, the Baltimore Ravens being the other, to have more rush attempts than pass attempts. The Chiefs (12-4), on the other hand, had the sixth fewest rush attempts in the league and threw the ball 61 percent of the time. They boast perhaps the most explosive offense in the league, averaging 6.2 yards per play, the second best in the NFL.
WORST TO FIRST. Only the Cleveland Browns posted a worse record than the 49ers from 2015 to 2018 (17-47), finishing in last place in the NFC West three of those four years.
FIRST… TO FIRST. Conversely, the Chiefs have made the playoffs every year since 2015, winning their division four times and while recording 57-23 record.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Despite Kansas City’s recent success, San Francisco has been the more dominant team in the Super Bowl era, with Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young leading the 49ers to five titles in six tries. The Chiefs appeared in and lost the first Super Bowl ever played. They won their one and only title four years later, defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. It took another half-century for the Chiefs to hoist the Lamar Hunt Trophy, named the former Chiefs owner and AFL co-founder, which is awarded annually to the champions of the AFC.
RED ON RED. This year marks the first time that two teams with a shade of red as their dominant color will meet in the Super Bowl. On Sunday, the Chiefs will wear red jerseys with white pants and the 49ers will wear white jerseys with gold pants.
THE BEST TO NEVER DO IT. Andy Reid of the Chiefs is considered by many to be the best head coach to have never won a Super Bowl. He spent the first 14 years of his head coaching career with the Philadelphia Eagles, leading the team to nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl appearance. He was let go after a disappointing 2012 season but was immediately picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs, who have made the playoffs six of Reid’s seven years in charge. Reid has the sixth-most regular season wins (207) and the sixth-most postseason wins (14) in NFL history.
NO NEPOTISM HERE. On the other sideline will be third-year coach Kyle Shanahan, the son of retired head coach Mike Shanahan, who led the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl victories in the late 1990s. The elder Shanahan would not allow his son on his coaching staff until he led a top-five offense elsewhere. Kyle Shanahan did just that with the Houston Texans in 2008 and 2009. His father, head coach of the Washington Redskins at the time, hired Kyle the next year. In 2016, Kyle Shanahan helped lead the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance. He was hired to lead the 49ers the next year.
MAKING HISTORY. Katie Sowers, an offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers, is the first female coach to make the Super Bowl.
IMMOVABLE FORCE, MEET UNSTOPPABLE OBJECT. The 49ers, led by veteran CB Richard Sherman, had the best pass defense in the NFL, allowing just 2,707 yards through the air and only 4.8 net yards per attempt, both the lowest in the league. The Chiefs, led by QB Pat- rick Mahomes, threw for the fifth-most yards (4,498) and had the second-most net yards per attempt (7.5).
FRONT RUNNERS. The 49ers are proof that running the football doesn’t have to be boring. General manager John Lynch has emphasized speed at the running back position, with all three of the team’s running backs having recorded 40-yard dash times under 4.40 seconds: Raheem Mostert (4.34), Matt Breida (4.38) and Tevin Coleman (4.39). The 49ers have used their speedy three-headed monster to jump out to early leads and hold them, winning both of their playoff games in dominant fashion.
THE COMEBACK KIDS. The Kansas City Chiefs have fallen behind early in both of their postseason games (24-0 to the Houston Texans and 14-0 to the Tennessee Titans). In both games, the Chiefs made up the deficits before the first halves ended and won by double digits.
THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE? Both comebacks were sparked by Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who at 24 years old is already one of the most transcendent players the league has ever seen. He has thrown for 615 yards and 8 touchdowns so far this postseason. With his jaw-dropping throws, often made on the run after escaping trouble, Mahomes has a tendency to make the impossible look effortless. A former baseball player himself, Mahomes is the son of MLB pitcher Pat Mahomes, which may explain his highlight-reel jump throws and unique sidearm delivery. Mahomes was drafted by Kansas City with the 10th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. He didn’t play much his rookie year, but took the reins his sophomore season, throwing 50 touchdowns and winning the MVP award. Based on jersey sales, Mahomes is already the most popular player in the NFL.
NOT SO FAST. Mahomes might be the most well-known player in this year’s Super Bowl, but 49ers TE George Kittle was actually graded the best player in the NFL this year by Pro Football Focus. Kittle, a fifth-round draft pick in 2017, hauled in 85 passes for 1,053 yards and 5 touchdowns this season in just 14 games. Last year, he had 88 receptions, 1,377 yards and 5 touchdowns. In addition to his receiving prowess, Kittle was also graded by Pro Football Focus as the sixth-best blocking tight end in the league.
TIGHT ENDS WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS? If Kittle is the best tight end in the game, Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce isn’t far behind. Since 2014, Kelce has caught 507 passes for 6,465 yards and 37 touchdowns.
MAKING THE MOST(ERT) OF HIS OPPORTUNITY. The 27-year-old Raheem Mostert ran for 220 yards against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, coming within 29 yards of breaking Eric Dickerson’s 34-year-old record for rushing yards in a playoff game. Before that game, he had never carried the ball more than 20 times in a game. Mostert had to wait a long time for his opportunity. The running back from Purdue University was released by six teams (Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Chicago Bears) before sticking with the 49ers in 2017.
DEEP THREAT. No lead is safe against the explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense, which has the ability to put up a lot of points in very little time. WR Tyreek Hill is a big reason for that. Since entering the league in 2016, Hill has scored a remarkable 17 touchdowns of 50-plus yards (10 receiving, 4 punt returns, 2 rushing and 1 kick return).
DEE-FENSE. The Kansas City Chiefs’ season ended in heartbreaking fashion last year, losing a close game to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. A lot of players and coaches shared blame for the loss, including linebacker/defensive end Dee Ford, whose costly offsides penalty in the fourth quarter overturned a Chiefs’ interception. Ford, who had 13 quarterback sacks for the Chiefs a year ago, was traded this offseason to the 49ers, who boast perhaps the NFL’s best defensive line: DT Arik Armstead (10 sacks), DE Nick Bosa (9 sacks), DT DeForest Bucker (7.5 sacks), and Ford (6.5 sacks).
AN INEXPERIENCED VETERAN. 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been in the league twice as long as his counterpart, Patrick Mahomes, but has started five fewer games. Drafted in the second round out of Eastern Illinois by the New England Patriots, Garoppolo won two Super Bowls while backing up Tom Brady for three years. He filled in two games for the suspended Brady in 2016, winning both before injuring his shoulder. The following season, he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a second-round draft pick. The 49ers started the 2017 season 1-10 but won their final five games after Garoppolo took over. In the offseason, the 49ers gave their new star quarterback the largest contract in NFL history at the time (five years, $137.5 million). In 2018, Garoppolo lasted only three games before tearing his ACL. With his team rarely playing from behind this season, a finally healthy Garoppolo hasn’t been asked to do much for the Super Bowl-bound 49ers. He completed 329 of 476 passes (69.1 percent) for 3,978 yards (8.4 yards per attempt), 27 TD and 13 INT.