The Kansas City Chiefs starting right tackle Jawaan Taylor signed with the team last March with dreams of winning a Super Bowl. Now just one game away from achieving that goal, Taylor has revealed he’s playing for something much more significant than football.
“My grandmother passed away about three or four days ago, so I’m dedicating this game to her,” Taylor told reporters on Wednesday. “My father passed away two years ago. Those guys — my grandma and my dad — they are a very big reason why I’m here and a very big reason why I made it to this point.”
This season, dealing with adversity has been a recurring theme for the Chiefs. While any on-field struggles pale in comparison to the loss Taylor has suffered, he still took the time to explain how his teammates handled adversity throughout the year.
“There were times where we had a little doubt — but at the same time, we always believed in one another,” recalled Taylor. “We always showed resiliency through the trials and the different adversity we faced throughout the year — [and] we were able to overcome it and get to this point.”
Taylor thinks the team’s effort was an opportunity for growth.
“We just looked at each other and we believed in one another,” he added. “We had to go back to the drawing board and be able to start getting wins again. We just had to be consistent with our play and our preparation — and things just turned around.
“The intensity in the weeks picked up. Every time we went out to practice, we were intentional with every rep; we made sure that every rep we did was 100%. Even if there were reps we messed up, we redid them. So [we were] just making sure we held each other accountable to ensure we were doing things the right way.”
Sunday’s matchup will challenge Taylor with what might be his most difficult assignment since arriving in Kansas City: slowing down All-Pro defensive end Nick Bosa and the rest of the San Francisco 49ers’ pass rush. In 2023, it was one of the team’s biggest strengths. It tied for the league’s seventh-most sacks. Bosa — who led the 49ers with 10.5 of the team’s 48 total sacks — was at the forefront of its success.
“[Nick Bosa] is a phenomenal player,” said Taylor. “We know what we’ve got to do. I feel like he’s a great player, so I just can’t wait to go against him. He’s one of the best in the business. He plays with great leverage. He has a great motor and uses his hands well.”
It’s not going to be easy. But playing with a heavy heart — and the support of his teammates — Taylor is looking forward to reaching his goal: hosting a Lombardi Trophy to make his childhood dreams come true.
“I feel like after this season,” he remarked, “it’ll have all been worth it.”