Super Bowl 58: The Kingdom vs. The Faithful II
Ethan Dalton, Contributor
Well, here we are once again. This Super Bowl Sunday, Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers are poised to once again take on Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs for the right to hoist the Lombardi trophy in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 11.
Much like Super Bowl 54 just a few short years ago, this game should be an absolute battle from start to finish. Both teams possess elite defences, capable of shutting down some of the most efficient offences across the NFL, along with generationally talented players on offense. The coaching storylines are significant as well, with Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid looking to secure his third ring and cement the Chiefs as a dynasty with arguably the greatest five-year stretch in NFL history, should they win. Meanwhile, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is looking to right the ship with his juggernaut of a roster after enduring multiple Super Bowl losses, with Atlanta and more recently San Francisco. This game will be one that should be highly entertaining, with lots of big plays, and should come down to the wire.
Let’s take a closer look at the representative of the AFC; the Kansas City Chiefs. For the fourth time in five years, Patrick Mahomes has once again won his division and earned his way back into another opportunity to add a ring to his hall-of-fame resume. Many thought the Chiefs would be a potential first-round exit, as their offence in the regular season looked the worst they ever have with Mahomes under center. Future hall-of-fame tight end Travis Kelce looked off for most of the year, the offence had the most dropped passes in the NFL, and the Chiefs’ general manager still never made a move for a big-name receiver to help out his quarterback. All this to say, despite how bad they were especially relative to last year, the offence was still a force to be reckoned with at times largely thanks to the mind of Andy Reid. Additionally, luckily for Mahomes, his defence decided to become one of the best in the league this year and certainly the best he has ever had. The Chiefs ended up going 11-6, easily winning their division and ending up as the #3 seed in the AFC. In true Chiefs fashion, most of their offensive issues seemed to just disappear the second the postseason started. Kelce has scored three touchdowns over three playoff games, nearly matching his regular season total of five. Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco and the run game in general has been efficient throughout the year to help set up the deep shots that make Kansas City so dangerous. It also goes without saying that Mahomes is still very much in his prime, hasn’t skipped a beat, and will likely pull something out of his hat on Sunday that we’ll be hearing about for the next week. The 49ers may be the better team on paper, but they can’t feel safe until the clock hits 0:00 against Mahomes and Reid.
Let’s now look at the representative of the NFC; the San Francisco 49ers. Their unfair levels of talent on offense and defense granted them the number one seed in the NFC with a 13-4 record, firmly establishing themselves as the team to beat in the NFC throughout the entire regular season. Kyle Shanahan’s creative play design for elite skill players such as Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk netted them a ridiculous 28.9 points per game, which was second in the league. They accomplished this with Mr. Irrelevant himself under center, Brock Purdy, who is continuing to silence all of his doubters. It is certainly true that having multiple all-pro pass catchers, with arguably the best play caller, left tackle, and running back in the NFL significantly helps his MVP-level stat sheet. That being said, he has delivered in big moments throughout the year, especially under pressure. Purdy was largely responsible for creating big plays against Detroit in the second half of the NFC championship game last Sunday, where he helped dig his team out of a 17-point rut at halftime to advance to the Super Bowl. Their defensive line, helmed by dominant edge rusher Nick Bosa, is capable of wrecking any offensive game plan both as pass rushers and in shutting down the run. Their inside linebackers, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, are arguably the best duo at their position in the league. Their secondary overall is their weak point. Losing all pro safety Talanoa Hufanga to a torn ACL late in the year certainly doesn’t help. But they continue to be underrated, as Charvarius Ward was a solid CB1 this year. There’s a reason that the 49ers are favourites, they have all the pieces necessary to add a sixth ring to their franchise resume, but much the same was said four years ago.
Both of these teams have overcome great adversity throughout the year to make it this far, and aren’t going to go down easily. The San Francisco 49ers’ dynamic, explosive offence, and physical defence will pressure Mahomes and the Chiefs all game. If San Francisco can control the line of scrimmage, maintain greater time of possession, and not turn the ball over, that will give them their best chance to win this game. It has been shown in recent history that Shanahan’s 49ers can win, and in dominant fashion when they are in control of the game almost regardless of opponent. If they can achieve this, they will be able to deny Mahomes and the Chiefs another ring. The Kansas City Chiefs defence will be looking to disrupt the San Francisco 49ers game script of running the ball, playing from ahead, and keeping the ball out of Mahomes’ hands whenever possible. Mahomes will look to pass catchers Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice for explosive plays downfield but will need to establish the ground game with Isiah Pacheco to keep the 49ers defense on their toes. If Kansas City’s defence can get turnovers and key stops to give more possessions back to Mahomes, they have a great shot at winning, though I’m sure no one wants that.
My official prediction for the score and Super Bowl MVP is: 49ers – 29 Chiefs – 27, with Christian McCaffrey winning Super Bowl MVP after a dominant game with multiple scores and over 100 scrimmage yards. The Chiefs’ run defence is stout, but McCaffrey’s elite versatility will ultimately prove too much for them to handle in the juggernaut that is the 49ers’ offense. Go Niners.