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Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Kyle Shanahan uses the same zone-running scheme that his father, Mike, used to lead the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 1990s.

Zone blocking, explained: Offensive linemen block a space instead of a person. This requires mobility (hence why San Francisco has the NFL's lightest O-line) and running backs who can get through holes quickly, rather than dance in the backfield à la Le'Veon Bell.

  • "For a lot of players, that approach requires unlearning years of what they've been taught," writes The Ringer's Danny Heifetz. "If less-heralded running backs pick up the system, they can earn the job — even if they've previously been cut six times." (See: Raheem Mostert.)

What they're saying: Future Hall of Fame LT Joe Thomas said Shanahan's scheme was his favorite offense he ever played in.

"It was like a computer program where everything was dichotomous; it was either a zero or a one and you knew exactly what you had to do on every single play and why."

On defense... The Chiefs have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Their best bet at disrupting San Francisco's attack is 311 pound DT Chris Jones, who will try to wreak havoc on the interior against an O-line built for speed not brawn.

The bottom line: The marquee matchup — Mahomes vs. the 49ers — may not end up being the decisive one, as the action on the other side of the ball reflects a bigger point of differentiation between the two teams.

Go deeper:

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Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging — Pence no longer expected to attend Barrett confirmation vote after COVID exposure.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events
  6. World: Restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
59 mins ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.