The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are almost set to clash in Super Bowl LIV, and with one day remaining it’s time for some last-minute predictions.
Super Bowl LIV will be a strength-versus-strength battle for the ages. Kansas City’s offense is so explosive it needs a warning label, and San Francisco’s defense has been shredding opposing quarterbacks’ souls to bits all year long. Everyone expects this matchup to be the biggest factor in the coming title game.
But what it it were not?
Here are some final bold predictions for Super Bowl LIV between the 49ers and Chiefs.
Jimmy Garoppolo will outplay Patrick Mahomes
There’s a narrative ahead of Super Bowl LIV that only one elite quarterback is playing in the big game. That’s absurd. While nobody would be so bold as to say Jimmy Garoppolo is in Patrick Mahomes’ class as a generational talent, it would be a mistake to assume he’s not capable of taking the game over and winning it with his arm.
Garoppolo was superb for the 49ers in games he had to throw at least 30 times this past regular season. He went 5-2 while completing 69 percent of his passes for 2,058 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions in those games.
With that in mind, don’t be surprised when Garoppolo has a bigger game than Mahomes on Super Bowl Sunday.
Chiefs will rush for more yards than the 49ers
This seems absurd on the surface, especially given the 49ers have racked up 471 yards of rushing offense the past two playoff games. But let’s not forget that the Chiefs are coming off an AFC Championship Game performance in which they effectively made Derrick Henry impotent.
Then there’s the notion that 49ers coach and offensive guru Kyle Shanahan may have been saving up his best passing plays just for Super Bowl LIV, and we’ve already gone over the fact that, when needed, Garoppolo can shred.
On the other side, we expect the Chiefs’ impressive offensive line to struggle with the 49ers’ pass rush, forcing Andy Reid and Co. to adjust their game plan and pound the rock.
George Kittle will finally go off as a receiver
The past two postseason games, 49ers star tight end George Kittle has been utilized almost exclusively as a run blocker — a devastating force in that role.
As a result, he caught just four passes for 35 yards.
But let’s not forget that Kittle is as dangerous a receiving tight end as there is in the NFL. His after-the-catch exploits are already legendary, and Kittle is also among the most dependable receivers in the league having hauled in 79.4% of the passes that game his way during the regular season.
Look for Shanahan to finally feature Kittle as a receiver during Super Bowl LIV. And when that happens, fans should expect some fireworks as he takes on the Chiefs secondary in the open field.
Tyreek Hill will be shut down
There are few offensive players in the NFL who can boast the kind of electrifying playmaking abilities that Tyreek Hill possesses. He’s lightning in a bottle and has proved to be the perfect weapon for Patrick Mahomes to utilize due to his track-star speed.
So far in the playoffs, Hill’s overall production has been somewhat muted. He hasn’t broken off the long catches he’s known for, hauling in eight catches for 108 yards in the Chiefs’ first two playoff games, but he did bring in two touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans.
On Super Bowl Sunday, we’re expecting the 49ers’ dominant secondary to put Hill on lock down. Whether it’s Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley or Jimmie Ward in coverage, this defense has the players to render Hill a minimal factor in Super Bowl LIV.
Dee Ford will have three sacks
Chiefs fans blamed Dee Ford for last year’s overtime loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. His offsides penalty that negated an interception was a huge reason the Chiefs lost that game, and then he was traded by Kansas City during the offseason.
Now, Ford can make a huge statement going against his former team, and he’s finally healthy enough to do it. In the divisional round, he came up with a huge sack of Kirk Cousins. In the NFC Championship Game, he and the rest of San Francisco’s defensive linemen made Aaron Rodgers’ life a living hell.
On Sunday, look for Ford to have the biggest game of his career on the biggest stage the NFL has to offer. He’ll take down Mahomes three times as the 49ers force the Chiefs to alter their game plan in a big way.
49ers will win by double digits
As soon as the Super Bowl LIV contestants were decided on conference championship weekend, it became clear the Chiefs were favored to win. One day ahead of the big game, and Kansas City remains a slight betting favorite (-1.5).
Given how Mahomes and Co. treated their playoff foes in the first two rounds, we can’t blame folks for buying into what the Chiefs have going. And it’s not just about their offense, either.
However, it would be foolish to sleep on the 49ers as a juggernaut on both sides of the ball. They have the most balanced team in the NFL and a coaching staff that is led by a man who was compared to Bill Belichick by a former New England Patriots general manager that won three Super Bowls with him.
The 49ers will bring home their sixth Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LIV, which they will win by double digits.