Some Initial Thoughts on the 49ers

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Nate gives his initial thoughts on the Super Bowl matchup with the San Francisco 49ers for the Kansas City Chiefs

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Zone Rushing Attack

San Francisco has the look of a Mike Shanahan team. They explode off the snap and pound you downhill. They’re arguably the most athletic offensive line in the NFL. They run a lot of inside/outside zone, using the speed of their 3 running backs (Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert) to get to the edge and upfield. While Tennessee’s offensive line was fantastic, they aren’t nearly the athletic freaks that the 49ers are on the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs are going to have to be fresh on the defensive line, while setting a hard edge for 4 quarters. Nobody schemes run plays better than Kyle Shanahan. They’re a running team, just like Tennessee, but much faster and better at it.

Run Sets Up Play Action

I understand why the analytics say that that running the ball doesn’t set up play action. It’s true, there’s not an X amount of carries to reach to run play action. Still, San Francisco sets up their play action with their run action better than anyone. They’ll run some sprint outs, but they mainly run a lot of deep crossing routes with their speedy receivers. Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel do a really nice job patrolling the middle of the field, giving Jimmy Garoppolo easy throws across the middle of the field.

I’ll get to it in more depth once the All-22 comes out, but this will give Kansas City problems. Due to our slow linebackers not being able to cover in their zones, we got killed over the middle with play action. With two weeks to prepare, Spagnuolo will need to have a plan for what to do to defend these crossing routes.

George Kittle

George Kittle is a matchup nightmare. He’s the best blocking tight end in football, while having the speed to dominate as a tight end. He isn’t Travis Kelce as a receiver, but his blocking in their zone scheme makes him very valuable to their attack. They’ll isolate him on defensive ends, and he’ll maul them off the ball, leaving the edge wide open for their speedy backs to run through.

As a receiver, he doesn’t have the feel that Travis Kelce has against zone, but if he gets the ball in his hands, he’s a threat to beat you with his speed. Look for Steve Spagnuolo to treat Kittle as a receiver, putting one of his bigger cornerbacks on him. Kittle’s a good receiver, but he doesn’t terrify me like Kelce would if I was the 49ers. There are ways to stop Kittle. He only has 4 catches for 35 yards in the playoffs. I trust Spagnuolo to have a plan.

Battle in the Trenches

If the 49ers are truly special in one area, it’s their defensive line. They’re easily the best defensive line Patrick Mahomes has faced in his career. Nick Bosa is the arguably the best pass rusher we’ve faced this season, who wins with excellent technique and strength. DeForest Buckner is a matchup nightmare in the interior, using his long arms and quick first step to not allow quarterbacks to step up in the pocket. Arik Armstead is their base defensive end, who kicks inside on any passing downs. He’s a long, powerful player, who wins primarily with a bull rush. Dee Ford is their sub-rush player, who’s there to work in their stunts and use his elite first step and speed to get upfield.

This game is going to be won or lost by the play of the Chiefs offensive line. If they can protect Mahomes, we’ll easily pick apart their zone coverage. Since they are so good up front though, it can be hard to sit in the pocket and deliver balls downfield. They’re the perfectly built defense in the modern NFL. While we’ve faced good defensive lines in the playoffs, this is a new challenge. Luckily, we have two weeks to develop a gameplan against these guys. We need to be prepared.

Richard Sherman in Cover 3

Another reason why they play so much zone is because of Richard Sherman. While Sherman isn’t the same athlete he was earlier in the career, he’s extremely smart and still athletic enough to dominate in zone. San Francisco mainly plays Cover 3, mainly due to the fact that Sherman can lock down a side of the field. He’s not a man corner, but they’re able to protect the other side of the field due to other teams’ unwillingness to throw at Sherman.

Attack the Other Guys

I alluded to it, but while they’re an excellent pass defense, you can attack the other guys in their secondary. Emmanuel Moseley is fine, but he’s a rookie and developing. Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are competent safeties, but they can be attacked over the top. As long as we can protect Mahomes and keep him upright, with our weapons we should be able to attack these guys. They haven’t seen the speed we have on our team. The only team they’ve seen who’s close to our speed is Seattle, who was inches away from being 2-0 against them this season. A scrambling quarterback who can make plays to his speedy receivers gives San Francisco issues. Sounds like a formula for success to me!

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3rdnlong
3rdnlong

Also, one more thing…

How about WR reverses? How would those do vs. 49ers?

3rdnlong
3rdnlong

49ers fan sites say that screens have also troubled their D, and they are worried at this because of Andy Reid’s skill and talent at calling screens.

Hopefully we can exploit this to the detriment of the vaunted SF D.

On another note, anyone else find it odd playing against both Dee Ford AND Emmanuel Sanders? This is giving my head fits because of years past when Dee was with us (or offsides against us) and Sanders was getting his against Sutton’s weak schemes in Denver.

WTF_Chiefs
WTF_Chiefs

As the Chief’s have multiple players that are deep threats, Andy needs to get the defense consistently stretched horizontally early then let alignment dictate who he uses for shot plays

upamtn

Good stuff, Nate … and now you don’t have to “hope to see a Chiefs Super Bowl” this season … it’s on

Maw423
Maw423

As aggressive as their dline is, and their penchant for playing deep bx of our speed, is this where our screen game really comes alive again?

WTF_Chiefs
WTF_Chiefs

9ers have good LBs and only rush 4 while playing zone behind it…….that combo isn’t suceptible to screen game

The deep out to Hill and Watkins will be there against Sherman if Andy moves pocket for Pat…..and once Sherman takes bait, the deep hitch and go is there

Maw423
Maw423

An answer to speedy receivers coming across the middle.. Dirty Dan, I have a date for you at center field. 1st impressions matter, so ROCK THEIR WORLD!

tsv0728
tsv0728

Ford constantly overruns the pocket. When he is in, they should have plays/protections specifically designed for Pat to move underneath him and take shots. Probably better chip Bosa all game. Dude is a relentless beast. Pat is going to have to be REALLY careful with the ball as the pocket is collapsing too. I’d actually be fine with a max protect based game plan. Using 3 of Sammy/Kelce/Hardman/Hill with everyone else blocking. As long as Pat has a pocket to work with, and this set of guys running routes, he will rip their cover 3 a new asshole.

DaChefs
DaChefs

Run the ball right at Ford!

starry1

True, Ford can’t hold an edge to save his soul. He’s a one trick pony and only that when he’s healthy, which is rarely.

backbone313
backbone313

Let’s put Watkins on Sherman’s side the whole game. They rely on him to shut down his side every game. Bore him to death since so many other teams fans think Watkins is useless.

Goddard Bolt
Goddard Bolt

Sherman is slow. I’ve watched many 49ers games this year since my brother is a fan of theirs and he has definitely lost a step or two. If he does not have help with our speedy receivers Mahomes can and should attack him all day. Devante Adams is fast but he’s not Tyreek or Mecole fast and he burned him good just last week. If I’m Reid I continue to attack the whole field and change nothing.

But I agree…..the O-line will win or lose this game for us. The 49ers secondary is only as good as those front 4 monsters getting pressure. If the O-line holds up Mahomes should do Mahomes things and we should bring home the trophy.

KCChef
KCChef

MVPat : Sprint Roll Out to negate the Rush to the Strong Side , Plant & Throw the Weak Side Outside the #’s ( As Only He can Do ) Or to the Kelce Middle Crosser … If Kelce Goes Middle Seam Post …Money ! … : )

Dave

Fantastic insight sir!

There’s a reason they’re in the Super Bowl, and they have a lot of talent. I don’t see a runaway victory by either side in this game.

KCs biggest challenge, IMO, will be to do the opposite of our last two games and keep it close until the 4th, hoping their defensive front wears down a bit and lay down a quick blitzkrieg drive.

RDD India
RDD India

Ratface and fourty whiners! How @ that?

RDD India
RDD India

Let me be first to say: awesome read Nate! Thanks!!
Now some thoughts/ questions: you said we gotta set hard edge, on which side Do SF run? FC should be able to do it? Can Kapass/ T Sizzle?
Now the Ratface and fourty whiner’s Dline, can they handle our Oline ? I thought SF don’t pass rush aggressively is it correct? How will Kelce fare?

ArrowFan
ArrowFan

What is your final score prediction? 35-28 KC for the win.

Sudden
Sudden

45-10 Chiefs.

I think the niners defense, outside of their DL, is pretty overrated. Chiefs start fast for the first time this postseason jumping out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and Jimmy Cassel gets exposed.

Besides, we owe the Seahawks a blowout of their hated rival to make up for them blowing out the 2013 Broncos.

irafreak
irafreak

I like your optimism!

tsv0728
tsv0728

Jimmy Cassel. Lol.

NovaChiefs
NovaChiefs

37-24, Chiefs. We keep the ball the last 6 min of the game.