Feb 1, 2020 - Sports

How the 49ers will try to stop the juggernaut Chiefs offense

Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Andy Reid has built an offensive juggernaut in Kansas City thanks to an otherworldly QB and the NFL's fastest group of receivers. He also happens to be the sport's most valuable play-caller.

By the numbers: The Chiefs scored on nearly half of their possessions this season, trailing only the Ravens. They also faced the third-fewest third downs of any team — and led the NFL in third-down conversion rate anyway.

  • Yes, it may be true that the Chiefs have to set an alarm on their phone to remind themselves to run the football. But we've reached the point now where it's like ... why wouldn't you put the ball in Mahomes' hands every snap?

What they're saying: Chiefs WR coach Greg Lewis spoke about Reid's study habits and attention to detail, saying he has "a beautiful mind."

"He studies college games, high school games, CFL games, European games. He'll go look at stuff from 1910. ... He is able to compartmentalize everything then bring it out at the right moment [and] put it in terms everyone understands, and that's special."

On defense... the 49ers' defensive line faces a unique challenge: generate constant pressure on Mahomes while playing disciplined enough to contain him and keep him from extending plays outside the pocket.

The bottom line: This is the marquee matchup of Super Bowl LIV: Mahomes and his speedy receivers vs. Bosa, Buckner and San Francisco's fearsome front.

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What the Super Bowl coaches are saying ahead of the game

Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images

Andy Reid, 61, hasn't been to the Super Bowl in 15 years and is the NFL's best coach to never win one, making him the sentimental favorite among neutral fans.

What he's saying: Did I mention he's quirky and hilarious? Yesterday, he compared having nine grandchildren to eating Chinese food: "They keep you young and at the same time make you feel old. It's kind of like sweet and sour pork."

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Special preview: Super Bowl LIV

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Super Bowl isn't just a football game. It's the halftime show; it's the ads; it's the seven-layer dip; it's the fact that, for four hours on Sunday night, nobody is expected to be doing anything else.

Why it matters: The Super Bowl is one of the last remnants of an era when we all watched the same things at the same time. It is the "live sport" of all live sports, which is currently the only form of content tethering many consumers to traditional TV.

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How the 49ers offense deploys its zone-running scheme

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.

Go deeperArrowFeb 1, 2020 - Sports