The NFL season is down to just two teams, as the Chiefs and 49ers battle it out for this year’s Super Bowl on the 11th of February in Las Vegas.
Defending champions Kansas City won the AFC Championship game, beating the Baltimore Ravens 17-10 to reach the big game for a fourth time in five years. Patrick Mahomes will be looking to add a third Super Bowl Championship to an already unbelievable resume.
After winning Super Bowl 57 last year, the Chiefs can become the first team since the 2003 Patriots to win back to back Super Bowls. The Chiefs beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl back in 2020, but fell short against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following year.
The San Francisco 49ers were touted as the early frontrunners to win the Super Bowl midway through the season. They however began to have problems towards the end of the regular season and have had a rougher path in the playoffs.
The 49ers had to come from behind to survive a scare against Green Bay in the divisional round, winning by the skin of their teeth, 24-21. They had to recover from an even larger deficit against Detroit in the Conference round, after going down 24-7 at halftime.
Quarterback Brock Purdy came up big, leading his team to 17 points in just eight minutes in the second half to draw level, before going in front early in the fourth quarter. After the two testing wins, the 49ers have definitely shown they know how to play from behind.
The Chiefs also had a difficult path to the final game, having to go through a super hot Buffalo Bills team and a Ravens team led by likely MVP Lamar Jackson. The Chiefs just got past the Bills on the road, 27-24 and had a dominant defensive performance to hold the Ravens to just 10 points in the conference finals.
The Chiefs and 49ers have only met the two times in the past 3 years, with both contests going in favor of Kansas City. In their most recent matchup, the Chiefs beat the 49ers quite handily by the score of 44-23. It should be noted that Brock Purdy was just a backup at that point, with only 9 pass attempts.
Their next most recent matchup was Super Bowl LIV, which was won by Kansas City 31-20. Patrick Mahomes was his usual brilliant self, throwing for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns. He did however also have two interceptions. Tyreek Hill had 105 yards receiving for the Chiefs but is no longer with the team.
Ultimately it was the Chiefs’ defense that won them the game, allowing only 20 points and sacking QB Jimmy Garppolo 4 times in the process. They were also able to come up with two timely interceptions to put the game on ice late in the 4th quarter.
From the 2020 Super Bowl, the Chiefs still have Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Chris Jones, three of the biggest playmakers on the team. The San Francisco 49ers have also managed to retain a number of their stars, including George Kittle, Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, and Deebo Samuel.
The biggest difference between the 2020 and 2023 sides seem to be Brock Purdy which could ultimately make the difference. It’s hard to bet against Patrick Mahomes however, who has shown he can win regardless of his opponent.
For San Francisco to win they need to run the ball well with Christian McCaffrey which should free up Purdy and the passing game. San Francisco has also been great all year in forcing turnovers, if their defense can get a timely turnover or two they should be in with a good shot.
Kansas City will need to protect Mahomes and try to keep the ball in their hands. Based on what happened in Baltimore for the conference championship, expect a lot of blitzing from the Chiefs’ defense.
The game will be hard fought but the Chiefs should edge out the 49ers with their immense experience on the big stage.