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Chiefs-49ers 5 Questions: Will Kyle Shanahan stick to the run?

On Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, San Francisco is favored to win. We welcome employees author Ryan Bainbridge of Niners Nation — our sister SBNation web site masking the 49ers — for Five Questions with the Enemy.


1) What’s the temper amongst 49ers’ followers? I’d suppose it’s a combine of pleasure and revenge. How a lot affect does Super Bowl LIV have over this?

Excited, anxious and assured — however that is available in waves between a mixture of fear and nausea. I wouldn’t level to revenge as a prime feeling heading into this sport. Although the opponents are the identical as Super Bowl LIV, the groups are fairly a bit completely different 4 years later.

Obviously for San Francisco, there’s been an enormous reinvention of the offense with Brock Purdy, Brandon Aiyuk and Christian McCaffrey as new centerpieces which can be heads above the earlier starters from the 2019 workforce. The Chiefs don’t have the receiving threats from that yr, both. So it appears like a completely completely different ball sport.

As a lot as we want to exorcise the demons of that sport (the late missed cross to Sanders, for instance), I feel many of the Niners’ trustworthy are centered extra on emotions of hopefulness for a selected group of gamers who’ve labored exhausting to get again right here after final yr’s NFC Champonship debacle.

2) Adding working again Christian McCaffrey has been in comparison with Thanos including the ultimate Infinity Stone. How a lot of a distinction has he made?

CMC has given the 49ers’ offense rather more than we may have hoped he would.

To all of us, he’s actually the perfect working again within the sport. He can run between the tackles and he’s extremely shifty. He breaks tackles, has nice imaginative and prescient and might catch. So yeah… he can simply do all of it.

And what it actually comes right down to is that McCaffrey offers options when the solutions aren’t proper. When a play goes awry, he is an outstanding outlet. In each the working sport and within the receiving sport, we’ve seen that they will depend on him to make one thing out of nothing. He has really been as reliable as any working again I’ve watched in my time as a 49ers fan — and that features a fan favourite: Frank Gore.

3) Defensively, the 49ers are barely worse off than they had been towards Patrick Mahomes final time round. How will the 49ers sport plan for him?

This is an attention-grabbing query, as a result of not solely is the 49ers’ protection completely different than it was 4 years in the past, so is the Chiefs’ passing sport.

San Francisco defensive coordinator Steve Wilks now takes a way more conservative strategy to protection. They don’t play man protection as a lot because the Saleh/Ryans variation. The focus isn’t letting receivers get behind the secondary whereas taking part in quite a lot of coverages with vital communication and hand-offs. Wilks has additionally needed to dial up completely different stress seems to be greater than earlier coordinators, which will be tied to the dearth of manufacturing from the entrance 4 and his teaching historical past.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City aerial assault (and Mahomes) isn’t as vertical. It isn’t depending on lengthy dropbacks or centered on successful exterior. While I feel defending Mahomes is inconceivable (duh), this model of the Kansas City offense could have just a few chinks in its armor. The offensive tackles are susceptible — however even when he will get pressured, it’s not like Mahomes takes sacks. San Francisco would like to take Kelce out of the equation with fixed double protection — however even then, that duo all the time finds methods to make performs.

So the sport plan should be centered on taking part in their model of bend-don’t-break protection. It requires everybody on the unit to keep away from in search of the massive performs on a regular basis. From there, you simply hope the offense can’t constantly get to their solutions rapidly sufficient. The protection may even have to search out methods to get extra stress than they’ve all through the playoffs — maybe by putting in extra 5 down linemen fronts like they did earlier within the season.

4) If the 49ers discover themselves with a lead or a decent sport, will Kyle Shanahan lastly keep on with the run?

We definitely hope so!

I feel each the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens may in all probability have been taking part in on Sunday if that they had caught to their identities within the second half of their convention championship video games.

Shanahan has extra belief in his working again than ever earlier than, so I undoubtedly really feel like he may redeem his previous errors by leaning on CMC all day. But Shanahan additionally has extra belief in his quarterback than ever earlier than, so I wouldn’t be stunned if he stored it within the fingers of the participant who bought the workforce up to now.

I feel that both manner, it’s about staying true to what you’ve been as a workforce all yr — and why there’s a stage of confidence on this offense’s means to maintain a steadiness between working and passing.

5) The 49ers are slight favorites. Do you suppose that is truthful? How do you see this sport taking part in out?

I don’t know if the betting line is truthful or unfair. I simply suppose we should perceive that playing markets are closely influenced by crowdthink — which tends to make use of analytics as context.

So having the 49ers as slight favorites doesn’t appear outrageous, contemplating that that they had one of many top-10 highest DVOA rankings (which return to 1981) ever recorded. (Although Baltimore did, too).

But in the end, this can be a very robust matchup. Relatively talking, the Chiefs’ offense has had a down yr — and so has the 49ers’ protection. The inverse is true for the Kansas City protection and the San Francisco offense. These groups match up very properly and it ought to make for an attention-grabbing sport. I’m going to lock in my prediction of the 49ers successful their sixth Lombardi and masking the two-point unfold.


Be certain to take a look at the solutions I gave to their questions by clicking right here.

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