By Insidethe49|Published On: February 11th, 2024 at 5:04 AM|
Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Sunday, February 11, 2024
It’s the last day of the NFL season, and the San Francisco 49ers are playing. If you’re nervous, it’s because you have a pulse. If you’re not, it’s because you know that the Niners are the superior team.
Why is this good news? Well, if you’re a believer in the “Drake Curse,” this means the Niners will win their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
The Canadian rapper and singer is known not only for making hit singles and winning Grammys, but also for dooming sports teams and figures by either placing large wagers on them to win, or merely appearing with them. Notably, he reportedly placed a $60,000 bet on the 2016 Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship. The record-setting 73-9 Warriors lost to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While the 49ers are slight favorites to beat the Chiefs, Drake said on Instagram, showing a screenshot of the bet: “I can’t bet against the swifties.”
In the AFC Championship Game, Mahomes and Kelce took on a Baltimore Ravens defense that boasted Pro Bowlers at both linebacker spots and at safety. Kelce, however, still caught all 11 passes that went his way for 116 yards. That included a 19-yard touchdown against safety Kyle Hamilton, the first touchdown Hamilton gave up to a tight end all season.
The 49ers defense, meanwhile, has been strong against tight ends this season. That is, until Detroit Lions rookie Sam LaPorta caught nine passes for 97 yards, a season high for a tight end versus San Francisco.
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said the 49ers have to be especially focused on Kelce when the play breaks down and Mahomes starts to scramble. That’s when their special chemistry can be most damaging.
Last week, Mahomes became the first quarterback to not be sacked and not turn the ball over in three straight playoff games dating to last year’s Super Bowl, but he was taken down two times against the Ravens. Getting pressure on the quarterback will be a point of emphasis for Steve Wilks’ unit.
The 49ers defense has struggled this postseason, allowing an average of 386 total yards per game, which ranks No. 6 among the eight teams that played at least two playoff games this year. Bosa is going to take it upon himself to be a game-changer. In 11 playoff games, Bosa has recorded 10 sacks. He got to Mahomes once during their last Super Bowl meeting. This time, he gets to the quarterback twice.
This is going to be a low-scoring, run-heavy, and largely boring game. Sorry, friends! I know fireworks are the desired entertainment of a Super Bowl party, but both offenses will be heavily incentivized to run the ball in this game to stay out of third-and-long and avoid negative game scripts.
While the 49ers have come back in both of their postseason wins, they don’t want to face constant pressure packages from Spagnuolo; the Chiefs, a far cry from the explosive passing offense they once were, don’t want that 49ers pass rush teeing off without a check. I like Pacheco to be the engine of a methodical, suffocating Chiefs win: 22 carries, 120 yards, and two scores.
Does the Chiefs’ press coverage play into the 49ers’ hands?
The Chiefs use press coverage more than any team in the league, with both outside corners pressing on 42% of opponent dropbacks, per NFL Next Gen Stats. No other team is over 35%. But that should suit the 49ers just fine.
San Francisco leads the NFL in estimated points added per dropback at 0.24 through the regular season and playoffs, and when facing press coverage from both outside corners, that number balloons all the way to 0.5 — also the best in the league. Why? Well, one reason is that San Francisco has plenty of playmakers beyond the wide receiver position. The yards per route run for both running back Christian McCaffrey (1.5 to 1.9) and tight end George Kittle (2.5 to 3.4) rise when opponents play press coverage.