For hardcore football fans, this game is heaven. It is also heaven for casual ones. It features a bunch of famous people doing things well and being put in positions to keep doing those same things well by people who are also famous. Mahomes, Garoppolo, Reid, Shanahan, Kittle, Richard Sherman—it will be good football. It is the first Super Bowl since 2016 to not feature the Patriots, the narrative darlings of the sport, and it will be fine. If you like narratives, you will have them; if you don’t, the same ingredients that create the narratives also create entertaining football. Reid is a descendant of the Bill Walsh–Mike Holmgren coaching tree. Kyle Shanahan is part of the coaching tree started by his father, Mike Shanahan, whose branches touch the Walsh tree by way of Mike Shanahan’s years as an offensive coordinator in San Francisco under George Seifert. Of course, the Walsh coaching tree that led to Reid originated in San Francisco. The offensive schemes these two teams employ are very different, but each is a direct reflection of their pasts: rooted in tradition but updated, rewritten, and perfected for the modern era.
“Who is it?” Reid asked Veach.
“I said, ‘It’s this kid named Pat Mahomes,’” Veach recalled over the phone Friday. “And by that time, I had gotten to the LSU game he played his sophomore year, that bowl game where he was completely undermanned. I mean, they just had talent all over the field, LSU did. And he was just a one-man gang, just keeping them in the game and making plays and playing with so much moxie and bravado that just jumped off the tape.”
While shutting down deep passes is a source of strength for the Niners’ defense, completing deep passes is where the Chiefs’ offense thrives. Despite missing two games due to injury, Mahomes leads the NFL with 13 deep touchdown passes this season. The Chiefs have the most receptions of 30-plus (34) and 40-plus yards (20) this season. Not only have these passes kept the chains moving fast for Kansas City, but the Chiefs have scored 24 touchdowns of at least 20 yards.
3 Chris Jones Kansas City Chiefs DE
He missed time early in the season, but came back to help turn the defense around. An injured calf muscle has limited him in the postseason, but he made big plays in limited time against the Titans last week.
Mahomes won’t be one of the NFL’s biggest bargains for long
The young quarterback will count just $5.2 million against Kansas City’s salary cap next season, the fourth year of his rookie contract. That’s a smaller payday than 26 other 2020 quarterbacks including Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jacoby Brissett, and Nick Foles.
He’s set to make less than 10 other members of his own roster, including targets Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins. He’ll also be eligible for a fifth-year team option in 2021 that will clock in somewhere around $22 million — a number Kansas City would be happy to pay.
“To lose a Super Bowl is devastating. You have to explain that forever,” Stenerud told The Associated Press this week. “When we won the game, there was one guy who kept bugging me about the warm-up jacket I had on. It turned out the guy was Pat O’Brien, who had played Knute Rockne in ‘Knute Rockne, All American.’ I just remember the total, total elation when you win, and I also remember that I was thrilled as could be, and I remember all the people who had taken a chance on us.”
6. Damien Williams, Chiefs, RB (Undrafted, 2014)
Williams could easily be a forgotten man in Kansas City’s pass-happy scheme, but lately he has shown a knack for an important task: scoring touchdowns. Williams has six in the Chiefs’ past three games, including three against the Texans in the divisional round. 2019 was Williams’ best season as a pro, which is striking considering he only played in 11 games. His 711 yards from scrimmage were third on Kansas City, and his seven touchdowns tied Hill for the team lead.
“With one being a little brighter and a little bit more yellow, that is more closely aligned to what the eye sees first,” Eiseman says. “So it may make their uniforms pop a little more because the value of the color is brighter. So when you’re looking on them on the field, the first uniforms you may recognize — if people aren’t colorblind — they’re going to see the Kansas City uniforms as a bit more adrenaline pumping. A bit more activity and dynamism.”
Clark, the Chiefs’ star defensive end who grew up in Los Angeles, first learned of the news via a tweet from a close friend in his hometown. But he thought it was a joke and quickly logged off Twitter.
He closed his eyes, only to open them when defensive tackle Chris Jones approached on the plane to let him know Bryant had indeed died in a helicopter crash that also took the lives of Bryant’s daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
“That’s when I knew the news,” Clark said. “That was some of the worst news you could hear, some of the worst news I could ever hear.”
Around the NFL
“It’s not easy to go to another team and get accepted, no matter how much success you’ve had and how many years you’ve played,” Montana told me last Friday during an on-camera interview that will be featured on NFL Network’s GameDay Morning this coming Sunday, before his two former teams face off in Super Bowl LIV in Miami. “They still want to see you come in and be the same player and be that loyal to them as you were to the other team you just left. So, it’s not easy (for) guys looking at that change, especially at the quarterback position.”
The Browns are expected to hold a news conference next week to introduce him.
Berry, 32, becomes the youngest general manager in the NFL. He returns to the Browns after working for them from 2016 to 2018 as vice president of player personnel.
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4. The 2019 draft class
At the time of the draft, the Chiefs’ draft class received mixed reviews. Now is almost universally praised. Safety Juan Thornhill has exceeded all expectations; he looks like a future All-Pro. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman has made plays nearly every time he touches the ball — and could be the number two wide receiver as soon as next season. Defensive tackle Khalen Saunders and cornerback Rashad Fenton contributed more than many of us thought they would; each could be a big part of the rotation going forward. Running back Darwin Thompson looks like a fun player — although he hasn’t yet had much of a chance to prove it.
But the bottom line is that the Chiefs 2019 draft class has been a big part of the team’s success — especially when veterans were injured.
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