We’re now just days away from finding out who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Miami. The San Francisco 49ers find themselves as slight underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
It’s one of the smallest point spreads we’ve seen in recent Super Bowl history. And while experts are predicting the Chiefs to romp over their NFC counterparts, San Francisco is more than happy coming in overlooked.
Here, we’ll give you five bold predictions for what promises to be a tremendous game in South Beach on Sunday.
49ers held to under 100 rushing yards
San Francisco has tallied less than 100 yards on the ground just four times in 18 games this season. Kyle Shanahan’s squad is surprisingly 3-1 in those four games. On the other hand, the Chiefs ended the regular season ranked in the bottom seven against the run.
Common logic seems to suggest that the 49ers, coming off a two-game span that saw them put up 470 combined rushing yards, will dominate on the ground. Not so fast. We fully expect Kansas City to stack the box against the run. While the team’s rush defense has been questionable, it did limit Derrick Henry in the AFC Championship Game.
We’re fully expecting Andy Reid and Co. to force Jimmy Garoppolo to beat them through the air. Here’s a quarterback who threw just eight passes in the NFC Championship Game. In turn, the Chiefs will focus all of their attention on record-breaking running back Raheem Mostert and the 49ers’ rushing attack.
Patrick Mahomes with multiple turnovers
After forcing a record low amount of turnovers last season, the 49ers’ defense has been absolutely tremendous in that category. Robert Saleh’s unit has forced multiple turnovers in eight of their 18 games this season, including five in two playoff outings.
We’re expecting this defense to be back up to its old tricks against the Chiefs come Sunday. That will include a Richard Sherman interception of Patrick Mahomes and a Nick Bosa forced fumble.
This is bold in that Mahomes has turned the ball over multiple times just four times in 35 career starts. That’s about 10% of the time. Expect it to happen in Super Bowl LIV, giving the 49ers a fighting chance in the process.
Mecole Hardman leads Chiefs in receiving yards
This electric rookie has taken a back seat to both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on the high-flying Chiefs offense. Don’t expect that to be the case in Super Bowl LIV.
Richard Sherman will line up opposite Hill a majority of the time. The All-Pro corner is yielding an average of under 15 receiving yards over the past 12 games and gave up a sub 55 passer rating when targeted during the regular season. Mahomes will target him, but it will come sparingly.
We’re also expecting San Francisco to have success with the likes of Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander, Dre Greenlaw and Jimmie Ward covering Kelce. All four are among the best at their positions in covering tight ends. In fact, San Francisco gave up the fewest receiving yards to tight ends during the regular year. Look for Mahomes to pick on the combination of Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon in targeting Hardman Sunday.
Jimmy Garoppolo goes off for 300-plus passing yards
If the 49ers are unable to have success running, the onus is going to be on Garoppolo to put up some yards through the air. Despite the narrative surrounding this veteran quarterback, he’s more than capable of doing just that.
Garoppolo is averaging north of 250 passing yards during his 49ers career. He’s tallied 290-plus yards nine times during that span. In what might be a game that the 49ers have to put up 25-plus points, the underrated signal caller should be more than up to the task. He boasts a 100.0 passer rating with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions while averaging 280 yards in games the 49ers’ defense has yielded 25-plus points throughout his career in the Bay Area.
Game is won on the final play
Given they outscored opponents by an average of 10-plus points per game, this following 49ers stat is interesting. Five of their games came down to the final play. That included San Francisco defeating the Seattle Seahawks to earn the NFC West title and home-field advantage in Week 17.
Kansas City is not much different in that half of their games this season have been decided by one score. Hence, the extremely small point spread. Whether it’s Robbie Gould or Harrison Butker, expect a kicker to play a huge role in the final seconds.