The San Francisco 49ers prepare to face Patrick Mahomes and his explosive Chiefs in Super Bowl 54 hoping their offense can find a way to control the game clock.
The 49ers have gashed teams on the ground all season rushing for over 2300 yards this season while finding the endzone a league-high 23 times. Only the Ravens ran the ball more than the 49ers, as quarterback Jimmy Garappolo has turned himself into a game-managing handoff machine.
But with a trio of running backs in Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Matt Brieda in the San Francisco backfield, head coach Kyle Shanahan should be leaning hard on his running game. Not just because of their running backs nose for the endzone, but to keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands.
Cuz he does stuff like this, a lot:
But taking a look at Kansas City’s rush defense, ranking 23rd against the run this season — in three of the Chiefs four losses this season they allowed well over 100 yards rushing and actually let Derrick Henry and the Titans rush for over 200 yards. If the Niners can find success rushing the ball early in this game and hopefully grab an early lead, the plan should be to squeeze the life out of the clock in hopes of limiting Mahomes’ chances of putting together another comeback.
It does help that the 49ers currently boast the No. 1 pass defense in football, but Mahomes and his ability to keep plays alive to find his playmakers can bust any coverage at times. That’s where the pass rush will have to find ways to contain Mahomes to the pocket and generate pressure or even better, sacks. San Francisco is tied for sixth in the league with 48 sacks and the tandem of Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead need to keep Mahomes uncomfortable all game.
But unless the 49ers can continue to dominate the line of scrimmage and run all over the Chiefs, it’s hard to see Garappolo winning a shootout against Mahomes and his slew of explosive weapons. Even with the San Francisco defense ranking among the best in the league against the pass, no lead feels safe while facing Mahomes.