5 Things I expect to happen in the Super Bowl.
The game is less than 24 hours away. Many are making predictions and in a pick'em game, we are expecting battle on Sunday. Here are five things I expect to happen on Sunday night, my prediction will be included at the end.
1. George Kittle takes over, Kelce does not: The postseason has been a dominant one for the 49ers when running the ball. George Kittle has been one of the players setting the tone in the run-blocking. Expect the Super Bowl to be a bit different. For starters, expect Jimmy Garoppolo to throw more than eight passes. The 49ers won't try to make the game a passing duel but they will attack through the air more often. George Kittle has been silenced when it comes to receiving in the playoffs. He's due for a big game and which player would be more ready for a big game on the biggest stage. Kittle might have 100+ receiving yards, a touchdown and be in the conversation for game MVP.
Kelce will be limited on Sunday for one big reason. The 49ers linebackers are some of the best in pass coverage in the NFL. Kelce is one of the most un-guardable players in the league but the 49ers will do a good job to limit him. If anyone is most likely to beat the 49ers in the passing game on Sunday it will be Tyreek Hill or Sammy Watkins and not Kelce.
2. The 49ers will control the trenches, especially on the offensive side of the ball: The 49ers offensive line has made rapid improvements since Kyle Shanahan arrived. The offensive line has been one of the best this season and has dominated top defensive lines in this post-season. The Chiefs defensive line is great at rushing the passer but not when it comes to controlling the line on running plays. This will result in the 49ers controlling the line of scrimmage and able to run the ball at will against the Chiefs.
The 49ers defensive line is the most complete line in the NFL. With the inclusion of Dee Ford for the playoffs, the D-Line has become near unstoppable. While they are a better pass rush line, the Niners have done an incredible job of taking away some of the best running backs this season. The Chiefs won't run the ball much on Sunday and when they do, don't expect much success.
3. Patrick Mahomes will have time to throw: For as much praise I have given the 49ers D-Line, the Chiefs have one of the best pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL. That factor alone will limit the 49ers pass rush, this is amplified with Mahomes's ability to throw on the run. Mahomes is more dangerous outside the pocket than in it. This means a two things 1) the 49ers will have a contained rush 2) THE 49ers won't give Mahomes any scrambling or running lanes. This will give Mahomes plenty of time to throw from the pocket. The 49ers may want to sack Mahomes, not at the risk of him making a big play on the run.
4. The 49ers will lead late and the Chiefs will come back: We learned this postseason that no lead is safe when playing the Chiefs. We also learned that the 49ers can run the ball and the clock. It shouldn't surprise anyone if the 49ers control the time of possession and limit the number of drives the Chiefs offense will get. That being said, it shouldn't come as a surprise if the Chiefs come back from a deficit in the 4th quarter with Mahomes carving up a tired defense. The common criticism of Andy Reid was his inability to manage the clock, that was before he had a quarterback who could lead a touchdown drive in less than a minute. The 49ers should be leading late in the game, the key for them to win the game is building a big enough lead late in the game that even the explosive Chiefs offense can't come back from (expect them to anyway).
5. The game will come down to the final minute/final play: It's been a few weeks since both the 49ers and Chiefs have played in a close game. Before the playoffs, the 49ers played in five consecutive games where the game came down to the last play. The game may not come down to the final play but expect a score to happen in the waning minutes of play. It should also be noted that the kicking circumstances are bad in Miami but not as bad as Kansas City and San Francisco. If this game comes down to a field goal, expect Harrison Butker or Robbie Gould to be able to make the kick.
I see the Chiefs taking a 28-27 lead late in the game (1:05 left on the clock). The 49ers drive down the field with Jimmy Garoppolo making quick throws to the receivers and more importantly George Kittle. Kyle Shanahan will call on Robbie Gould to make a 45-50 yard field goal and he will make the kick. The final score being 30-28 and this would result in three MVP candidates, Jimmy Garoppolo (my pick), George Kittle (the fan favorite pick), and Robbie Gould (dark horse pick). Regardless, we should expect a good game and more importantly a higher scoring game than last years 16 total points.