The Chiefs’ Weak Points:
Many teams that are bound for the Super Bowl have very few flaws. Whether it be a bad QB, run game, terrible secondary, etc., these teams often have very few problems. Analyzing the Chiefs, they are one of those few teams that do not have nearly as many weaknesses as the teams that the 49ers have played. The same can be said for the 49ers as well. However, in this piece, I am going to break down some of the Chiefs’ “soft spots” that the 49ers can potentially take advantage of going into this big game.
1. THE CHIEFS SECONDARY
Outside of Tyrann Mathieu, the rest of the Chiefs’ secondary has played very sub-par, not just in the regular season, but the post season as well. Although Football Outsiders has their pass defense ranked as 6th, the unit as had a tendency to give up a bevy of big plays and solid yardage to opposing QBs. In their past 3 games, the Chiefs have allowed 272 pass yards per game. Aside from this, the secondary has also allowed at least two receivers to break 50+ yards in each of the two games they’ve played.
Overall, the secondary is very under whelming. Starting CBs Charvarius Ward (PFF grade 63.7 in coverage) and Bashaud Breeland (PFF grade 47.8 in coverage) are the two main liabilities regarding this unit. They both will be tested by going against savvy vet Emmanuel Sanders and speedy rookie Deebo Samuel. Both WRs feast in both man and zone coverage. Safety play may hold the 49ers from some big plays (Mathieu and Fuller are solid) however, this is a game that Shanahan and the offense can explode with plays in the middle of the field. Look for a strong amount of RPOs and designed seam/slant/in-breaking routes to expose the Chiefs’ soft back-7.
2. CHIEFS RUNNING GAME
One thing the Chiefs have had to rely on heavily: Patrick Mahomes. Duh, right? However, if you were to tell me that in two games, he would be the Chiefs’ leading rusher, I would actually be surprised. And yet, here we are. After two playoff games, Mahomes leads the team in rushing. Although the Chiefs have not needed to necessarily run the ball, the lack of any type of run game should both be concerning for the Chiefs, and helpful for the 49ers. The Chiefs boast two tangibly good backs in Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson, however, they both have been non-existent in the playoffs. Healthy veteran Lesean McCoy has been a healthy inactive player. Combined, the two active backs have ran for a meager 99 yards! I understand that the concept of the Chiefs’ offense is to pass the ball (307 pass ypg) however, the fact that the run game has been virtually unused, should be concerning. One may say the same thing about the 49ers’ offense (Jimmy’s thrown 20 passes, 235 rush yards per game) but regarding the Chiefs, they have to play the SF defense, which is ranked #1 in terms of pass defense in the NFL. If the 49ers can contain half of what the Chiefs’ passing offense offers, then hopes of winning the bowl for KC should be slim. The 49ers defend the run above average, and if KC’s passing attack fails, there will be little hope for the run game of KC. Having a balanced offense has been key for the 49ers this season. As for the Chiefs, even a dynamic passing attack can be seen as one dimensional. Without the run, the 49ers can pin their ears back and drop 7 into coverage, likely giving Andy Reid and Mahomes possible fits.
Not many weak spots, right? Overall, the Chiefs’ defense is sub-par at its best, and the run game is virtually useless. With these two ideas, I fully believe the 49ers can take advantage of these in their quest for 6 (see how I did that)? It will take a complete game to beat the Chiefs, however, being able to attack the weaknesses may make the 49ers’ day that much easier.