San Francisco 49ers: Previewing the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of Super Bowl 54

San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl 54 (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl 54 (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers are set to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54 and with the help of our friends over at KC Kingdom, we take a look at the AFC champions.

The San Francisco 49ers were put through the figurative wringer this season facing some of the NFL’s best en route to a convincing appearance in Super Bowl 54. But they haven’t faced anyone like the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs represent perhaps the 49ers’ toughest task yet with their high-powered offense and much-improved defense. Kansas City went 12-4 in the regular season and cruised to their fourth straight division title.

And after a pair of convincing wins over the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans in the postseason, the Chiefs find themselves face to face with a 49ers team that’s firing on all cylinders right now.

The Niners handled the Green Bay Packers with ease — the second time they’ve done so this season — to get to Super Bowl 54. But these 49ers haven’t seen the Chiefs this season — neither team has any familiarity with each other.

That’s why we reached out to our friends over at KC Kingdom in preparation for this game. After all, there’s no one that better knows the Chiefs’ strengths and weaknesses than those in their own fanbase.

With the help of Cullen Jekel of KC Kingdom, we took a look and broke down this year’s Super Bowl 54 matchup. From keys to victory to crucial matchups to final predictions, here are the results of our discussion.

1. What path did the Chiefs take to get to the Super Bowl?

"“It’s been a long time coming for the Kansas City Chiefs to get to this point. Really, the starting point looks like the hiring of Andy Reid after the 2012 season. The Chiefs were in No Man’s Land at the point under GM Scott Pioli having just finished 2-14 under head coach Romeo Crennel and starting quarterback Matt Cassel. One of the first moves that Reid made was completing a trade with the 49ers for quarterback Alex Smith. In the next five seasons, that combination helped stabilize the Chiefs as they had five winning seasons and made the playoffs four times.Perhaps the team’s biggest move, though, come on the day of the 2017 NFL Draft when the Chiefs swung a deal to move up to the No. 10 pick where they selected Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech. And while Mahomes only started the final game of the regular season that year, he more than seamlessly replaced Smith, whom the Chiefs dealt to Washington. Of course, Mahomes won the MVP last year while leading the Chiefs to a 12-4 record only to get bounced in the AFC Championship at home against the New England Patriots.Last season’s defense held the Chiefs back, and so general manager Brett Veach, alongside Reid, made wholesale changes to that unit. Out went Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Dee Ford, among other players, as well as defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. The Chiefs added Tyrann Mathieu in free agency while trading for defensive end Frank Clark from Seattle while also adding guys like linebacker Damien Wilson and defensive linemen Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah. Steve Spagnuolo replaced Sutton. And while the defense didn’t play so great the first half of the season, it’s picked up wonderfully since then, allowing the Chiefs to field a most complete football team.”"

2. What is one key victory for the Chiefs in this game?

"“In the AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs defense put the clamps on the Tennessee Titans star running back, Derrick Henry. In the NFC Championship, the 49ers ran the ball 42 times for 285 yards and four touchdowns with Raheem Mostert getting the bulk of the action: 29 rushes, 220 yards, and every single one of those rushing scores. And so, just like it was against the Titans, the Chiefs must focus on shutting down the 49ers explosive rushing attack, while also keeping an eye on the play-action. The Titans had early success with the play-action as they jumped to a 17-7 lead over the Chiefs, and Jimmy Garoppolo is a much better quarterback than Ryan Tannehill. (Not to mention Kyle Shanahan is a better offensive player caller than is Arthur Smith.)The Chiefs offense is going to get theirs, eventually. While the 49ers defense is stout, Mahomes — with his arsenal of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Damien Williams, and Travise Kelce — won’t be kept down. Mahomes is, unquestionably, the best quarterback in the NFL. So the Chiefs will score. But it’s going to be down to the defense to contain Mostert and the rest of the San Francisco 49ers’ rushing attack, which utterly controlled the game against Green Bay.”"

3. What is one thing the Chiefs must avoid?

"“In both of the Chiefs games this postseason, the team got down into a big hole. First, it was 24-0 against the Houston Texans. Against the Titans, it was 10-0 and then 17-7. But the team rallied, and part of the reason had to do with the stadium’s atmosphere. Both of those games were played at home, in Arrowhead Stadium, one of the coolest environments in the NFL if not all of professional sports. When the team started showing life, the fans came alive to give them that extra bit of oomph needed for some excellent comebacks.That won’t be the case in Super Bowl 54, which, of course, won’t be played in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, but in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Sure, there will be Chiefs fans there — this is, after all, the team’s first appearance in a Super Bowl since 1970. But there won’t be enough fans there to give the team any sort of edge.Plus, while the Texans and Titans are good teams, the San Francisco 49ers are a much better team, one that won’t squander a double-digit lead. At least, not easily. No, it will definitely be tougher for the Chiefs to dig themselves out of a hole against San Francisco than it was against Houston and Tennessee. The best thing the Chiefs can do is start off with all cylinders firing and avoid those early game gaffes.”"

4. What is the most crucial matchup in this game?

"“This won’t be a game where the San Francisco 49ers can pass the ball only eight times and win, so I’m looking at who the Chiefs use to cover San Francisco start tight end George Kittle. Most likely, it will be a bunch of different guys who do that, from the likes of corners Bashaud Breeland and Rashad Fenton to safety Tyrann Mathieu to maybe a defensive end, like Terrell Suggs, dropping back into coverage. Regardless of who covers Kittle, or how often heruns a route, that particular Chiefs player will have his hands full. And with the 49ers running game clicking, potential play-actions to Kittle could be deadly for the Chiefs.Heck, maybe my answer here is really this: Spagnuolo versus Shanahan.”"

5. What is your final prediction for the Super Bowl?

"“I’ve not done too well in my playoff predictions this year, and it’s been a wash with these two squads. I’m 0-2 in 49ers games and 2-0 in Chiefs games. Regardless, I’ve got to stay the course with my home team. While the San Francisco 49ers have that dangerous running game and solid defense, I can’t overlook that the Chiefs defense is eons beyond where it was earlier in the year, and has played rather well this postseason. Plus, the Chiefs have just too many offensive weapons. The Reid-Mahomes duo is one for the ages, and they’re going to cement their place in history (and for Reid, in Canton) with a victory in Super Bowl 54.Give me the Chiefs, 34-29.”"

Next. San Francisco 49ers: Super Bowl 54 game breakdown and prediction. dark

Thanks again to Cullen and the entire KC Kingdom team for taking the time to speak with us about Sunday’s game. You could check out more of their incredible work over at and to see the piece I worked on with Cullen you could click this link.