The NFL put in a sod field on top of field turf and started laying it just last week when the NFL ordinarily requires Super Bowl practice fields to meet certain standards in December, sources told Schefter.
The NFL hardness score for fields averages 78, with no field being less than 70. The 49ers field is considered in the 50s, sources told Schefter.
The 49ers will hold their first walk-through practice on the field later Monday.
The league inspects the playing surfaces along with the NFL Players Association before every Super Bowl and approved each facility for use this week.
Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerbacks
The Chiefs are still a Super Bowl-caliber team, but they’ve done it differently this season. Instead of riding the coattails of Patrick Mahomes and an electrifying offense, they’ve had one of the stingiest defenses in the league.
The unit has been strong, but the cornerbacks deserve special recognition. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo asks a lot of them, and their ability to execute sets the whole defense up for success.
L’Jarius Sneed has received a lot of attention this season. He shut down both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in a high-profile matchup with the Dolphins, punched the ball out of Zay Flowers hands to swing the momentum in the AFC Championship Game and held opposing receivers to a passer rating of 56.2.
Sneed wasn’t a one-man show, though. Trent McDuffie also put together a strong campaign. He carried the fourth-highest grade from PFF at the position and was named first-team All-Pro slot cornerback. Both Sneed and McDuffie have the ability to cover the slot, so they provide a lot of versatility that helps the whole defensive backfield.
Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams provide the depth. Williams was strong, allowing just 4.9 yards per target.
Chris Jones is the best internal free agent the Chiefs have, but Sneed isn’t that far behind. The former fourth-round pick has earned the right to cash in, and he plays a pivotal role for the Chiefs.
If they allow him to walk they would need to consider targeting another corner in the first round to replace him. Khyree Jackson would fit the mold as a long, athletic corner who can play some press coverages.
Mahomes won’t be the GOAT at the end of Super Bowl LVIII. He won’t even be a legitimate contender for the GOAT for the next few years. Fair?
Now we can move on to what makes the conversation fun and complicated.
We’ve seen greatness in him unlike in anyone I’ve seen since Brady.
Colin Cowherd: Why Mahomes is “the greatest player that’s ever played”
It feels a bit like the draft comparisons. It’s all about the concept of potential.
Draft analysts compare prospects to project what a quarterback can be. Caleb Williams, the projected No. 1 overall pick this year, will draw Patrick Mahomes comparisons. Drake Maye will appear to draftniks as the next Aaron Rodgers. Jayden Daniels is without an easy comparison, though references include Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott and even Lamar Jackson.
During draft season, we talk all about tangible tools. (It’s actually already tangible tool SZN.) With the Senior Bowl underway and the combine a few weeks away, we’re already talking about arm strength, hand size, 40-yard dash. Even evaluating a player’s ability to get through his progression is tangible enough.
So what does this have to do with the debate over the GOAT?
In the same way that Williams’ tangible tools are comparable to Mahomes’, I think that Mahomes’ intangible tools compare only to Brady’s. And therefore, Mahomes has a real shot to contend for Brady’s Super Bowl record.
It’s not like when draft analysts dubbed Zach Wilson ”the Morman Mahomes.” We get ahead of ourselves, don’t we? But for that exact reason, projections are a lot like mirages. There’s no knowing whether Mahomes can realize his potential, even with all his current momentum. Just like we don’t really know that Williams will develop into anything like Mahomes.
49ers Snaps Vs. Man Coverage
Kittle and Aiyuk have easily been the 49ers’ most productive receivers against man coverage. Among 63 wide receivers who ran at least 100 routes against man coverage, Aiyuk ranked fourth in yards per route run, behind only CeeDee Lamb, Tyreek Hill, and DJ Moore. Kittle, meanwhile, led all tight ends by a wide margin in yards per route run against man coverage. Chiefs safety Justin Reid will be a key player in this game. He can match up to tight ends, blitz, and play the run. Reid’s matchup against Kittle is worth circling. The ability of all of the 49ers—but specifically Aiyuk and Kittle—to win against man coverage figures to be a huge factor in this game.
13. Kansas City’s goal will be to force the 49ers into obvious passing situations. The Chiefs love flooding the field with defensive backs. During the regular season, only three teams played more dime (six defensive backs) than the Chiefs. I mentioned above that Purdy likes to push the ball downfield, but the Chiefs rank fourth in DVOA against deep passes this season. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens took their shots downfield against the Chiefs in the AFC championship game but failed (for the most part) to convert. This is another area where it’s strength-on-strength. Purdy will likely take a handful of shots downfield. Whether he’s able to connect could go a long way in determining who wins this game.
21. 2-3 Jet Chip Wasp
Trailing by 10 with more than half the fourth quarter expired and facing a third-and-15 from his own 35-yard line in Super Bowl 54, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes knew his team was backed into a corner. But he suggested this play, which required WR Tyreek Hill to run a late-developing route deep into San Francisco’s zone coverage. Mahomes took the snap and had to drop 14 yards into the pocket in order to evade the 49ers’ relentless pass rush, then heaved the ball toward Hill, who’d cut toward the sideline to find a soft spot in the zone. The result was a 44-yard completion that set up a Mahomes TD pass three plays later and opened the floodgates for K.C.’s belated 21-point outburst and first championship in 50 years.
14- L’Jarius Sneed
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS CB
Sneed’s ability to match up in coverage gives the Chiefs a lot of versatility on the back end. He can match the other team’s top receiver, which could see him on Brandon Aiyuk.
Bottom line: This is a very different game than the one played 48 months ago when COVID-19 was just a mild concern for Americans and the world was weeks from shutting down.
So the dynamics, the matchups, all of it has to be reexamined. And we’ll do that.
But, first, there is one thing to look back on from the first championship of the Mahomes era that could foreshadow next Sunday’s game—and that’s the quarterback’s ability to erase. Through 51 minutes of Super Bowl LIV, it looked like the arrival of Shanahan’s 49ers as the NFL’s next great dynasty. They were leading 20–10. Bosa, then a rookie, was probably the game’s MVP. San Francisco had controlled the game throughout, taking control in the third quarter and picking off Mahomes to start the fourth.
15. 32-Yard Rainbow Pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to Ice the Game
January 28, 2024, AFC championship game at Ravens
Fourth quarter, 2:19 on clock, Chiefs lead 17-10
Third-and-9 from KC 46
This wasn’t remotely the best play of the Chiefs’ last game; Mahomes’s touchdown pass to a perfectly covered Travis Kelce on their opening drive was better, and Mahomes’s 10-second scramble on third-and-5 that led to an incredible diving catch from Kelce for the first down (which also led to a touchdown) was probably the most impressive Chiefs offensive play of the season. But for pure poignancy, in terms of sheer narrative, this pass to MVS defines what it’s like to root for Mahomes just as well as any other play of his career does. Valdes-Scantling entered the postseason as a Chiefs pariah, the perpetrator of so many dropped balls that no one in the fan base had the slightest faith in him. But Mahomes never gave up on him, and after MVS rewarded his faith with two clutch receptions against the Bills the week before, Mahomes trusted him on a play that helped send the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl. And Mahomes threw the ball so perfectly—while flat-footed and with a flick of his wrist—that MVS could not help but catch it, even as he fell to the ground, because the ball hit him right in the gut. It’s something out of a movie script (specifically, Necessary Roughness). It’s a fairy-tale ending, just as he’s given us so many times before.
Of Omenihu and Edwards, Tranquill said: “I didn’t know much about them at all prior to coming here, but I’ve really enjoyed being teammates with them. It speaks to this organization and the quest that they’re on, bringing in good players. Brett Veach is one of the best at doing that.”
Omenihu, Edwards and Tranquill combined for a $10.49 million number hit on the Chiefs’ salary-cap sheet this season, according to Over the Cap. At the time of their signing, the Chiefs believed they were versatile, ascending players who could reach their potential in Spagnuolo’s complex scheme.
“Spags and his staff do a great job of teaching the young guys the way they want it,” Reid said during the annual NFL owners’ meetings in March. “I thought it was a great job of teaching. I’m OK with (a youth movement), honestly.”
“I don’t think I could have ever foreseen what was going to happen at the start of my career,” Mahomes said at Super Bowl opening night on Monday, acknowledging the fact that the Chiefs are playing in their fourth Super Bowl in his six seasons as a starter.
“You want to get to the Super Bowl. That’s your ultimate goal, and to be able to be in my fourth one, it truly is surreal and I just try to appreciate it every single time,” Mahomes said. “You don’t even know if this will be your last, and I’ve been blessed to be in a lot with a great organization with a lot of great players around me, so I just try to maximize those opportunities.”
31. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
TROY FRANKLIN, WR, OREGON
Weight: 187 pounds
Fit: Similar to the Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs get the good end of the stick with some of these wide receivers falling further than expected. The Chiefs somehow made it back to the Super Bowl with less-than-ideal weapons on offense.
The Chiefs have a player in Rashee Rice. However, outside of Rice and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs’ pass catchers have been anything but reliable. Troy Franklin’s big-play ability and reliability as a pass catcher is much needed for the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.
Around the NFL
Mississippi’s state auditor filed court papers Monday renewing his call for Brett Favre to repay the state for welfare money the auditor says was improperly spent on projects backed by the retired NFL quarterback.
Auditor Shad White’s demand of nearly $730,000 from Favre is the latest twist in a long-running legal battle over money that was supposed to help some of the poorest people in one of the poorest states in the nation.
Favre, a Pro Football Hall of Fame member who lives in Mississippi, filed lawsuits in February 2023 accusing White and two national sportscasters of defaming him in public discussions about welfare misspending.
White said in 2020 that Favre had improperly received $1.1 million in speaking fees from a nonprofit organization that spent welfare with approval from the Mississippi Department of Human Services. The money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was to go toward a volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi. Favre agreed to lead fundraising efforts for the facility at his alma mater, where his daughter started playing on the volleyball team in 2017.
The Eagles’ game in South America will take place during Week 1 against an opponent that will be revealed before the full 2024 regular-season schedule is released in the spring. The game will be played on Friday, Sept. 6, 2024, the first time the NFL has played a game on Friday night of Week 1 in over 50 years (Cardinals at Rams, Sept. 18, 1970).
“This landmark first international game in South America demonstrates the ongoing expansion of our global footprint,” Goodell said in a press release. “Playing on Friday night of Week 1 is a unique way to highlight our international growth and ambitions.”
The NFL announced in December that the league would play a regular-season game in Brazil during the 2024 season. The game will be played in Corinthians Arena, which has hosted a number of notable sporting events, including six matches during the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs’ most recent opponent should have seen this coming. In 2012 — the Ravens’ fifth season under current head coach John Harbaugh — they began the postseason as the fourth seed. They collected a home victory against the fifth-seeded Indianapolis Colts before recording wins over the first-seeded Denver Broncos and second-seeded New England Patriots — and then beat the NFC’s second seed (naturally, it was the 49ers) to win Super Bowl XLVI.
You can probably think of a few other teams that won Super Bowls after beating a string of better teams — including the New York Giants just a season earlier, the 1997 Broncos (who beat the first-seeded Chiefs 14-10 in the Divisional Round), the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2007 Giants.
But did you realize that the Chiefs — with a victory on Sunday — will have completed one of the most difficult championship runs of them all?
Anyway... that’s what the DVOA metric says. According to analytics expert Aaron Schatz — who developed the well-known statistical model while he was with the now-defunct Football Outsiders football analytics service — the average DVOA of all the teams the Chiefs will have defeated on the way to a fourth Lombardi Trophy would be the highest of any other team that played four postseason games to win a Super Bowl during the DVOA era — which currently goes back through the 1985 season.
Social media to make you think
New Commanders’ HC Dan Quinn said Eric Bieniemy will not return to Washington’s staff.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 5, 2024