After the Kansas City Chiefs mounted a tremendous comeback to defeat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 and the San Francisco 49ers expertly picked apart the Green Bay Packers to the tune of 37-20, the stage was all set for Super Bowl LIV. In one of the most exciting American footall games yet, the Kansas City Chiefs came from behind to defeat the San Francisco 49ers.
Taking place at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, on February 2, the game saw the Chiefs play in their first Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV – 50 years ago. The 49ers returned after a five-year hiatus from the playoffs, with their last appearance on the biggest stage in football being Super Bowl XLVII, which the California team lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
Here’s how they made it to Super Bowl LIV:
San Francisco 49ers: Road to the Playoffs
The story of the 49ers’ run to the playoffs this season – their first postseason appearance since 2013 – traces back to the bold decision of CEO Jed York to go into a full rebuild in 2017, blow up the roster and the backroom, and start again.
Over the next two seasons, York took many risks, including the hiring of John Lynch as the team’s general manager. But from Lynch came the hiring of the young and ambitious head coach Kyle Shanahan, with the two forming a grand duo of football thinking that defies NFL convention.
The three-headed monster of Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert coming out of the backfield has proven to be too much for opposing defensive coordinators to handle. The ground game has been fundamental to the 49ers, and yet it’s built on a handcuff running back from the Atlanta Falcons, an undrafted free agent, and a journeyman. The trio combined for 2,419 yards from scrimmage, four receiving touchdowns, and 15 scores from rushing.
The secret to the 49ers offence functioning so well is the offensive line. Pieced together by Shanahan and Lynch over the last couple of years, the unit that has protected Jimmy Garoppolo and allowed the running backs to tear it up consists of a veteran, some free agents, and a sophomore first-rounder.
Then, of course, there’s one of only two truly elite-level tight ends currently playing in the NFL – with the other playing for the Chiefs – in George Kittle. Kittle’s offensive stats are superb, leading the team with five touchdowns and 1053 yards this season, but he combines this ability to move the chains with his immense blocking skills.
The defensive line, which is comprised of five former first-round selections – four of which were picked by the 49ers – has been fundamental in stopping the rush, only allowing 112.6 rushing yards per game through the regular season. The line that features Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, and Nick Bosa has been a menace all season, racking up a hefty 48 sacks.
This team has been meticulously constructed and in such a short space of time, and yet it’s already paying dividends. The 49ers started 8-0 and looked unstoppable, bouncing back with huge scores after slipping up against the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, and Atlanta Falcons down the line.
San Francisco 49ers: Road to the Super Bowl
Skipping the Wild Card round as the top-seeded team in the NFC, they faced the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional round. The team was cool, calm, and collected as the systematically stifled the Vikings and gradually put up scores.
Next came the Green Bay Packers, who joined the 49ers by finishing the season with a 13-3 record. In this one, the 49ers stormed ahead to a 27-0 lead at the half before finishing the game 37-20 victors. Raheem Mostert ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns while the 49ers defensive line held Aaron Jones to just 56 yards and a score.
The San Francisco 49ers have looked strong in all sectors across the regular season and made some very real statements of intent in the postseason.
Kansas City Chiefs: Road to the Playoffs
After an emphatic start to his professional football career in 2018, expectations were incredibly high for Patrick Mahomes and his electric offence. The sophomore quarterback certainly didn’t disappoint from the get-go, driving the Chiefs to a 4-0 record.
While back-to-back losses to the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans didn’t look to derail the season, Mahomes’ horrible-looking knee injury against the Denver Broncos did. Despite Mahomes defying medical science to be back and fully fit three games later – with Matt Moore guiding the team to a 2-1 record in Mahomes’ absence – the story of the season for the Chiefs is very much one of overcoming injuries.
The offence has seen many key pieces miss time this season, including Mahomes for three games, Tyreek Hill for five games, and supposed leading running back Damien Williams missing a total of five contests.
Despite injuries, though, the Chiefs pulled through, got fit, and surged to a six-game winning streak to finish the season and land themselves a 12-4 record and the second seed in the AFC.
Kansas City Chiefs: Road to the Super Bowl
The Chiefs’ run to Super Bowl LIV has been as exciting as it has been nerve-racking for Kansas City fans, coming from behind in both contests to win by hefty margins.
Against the Houston Texans in the divisional round, the Chiefs went 21-0 down in the first quarter, but this only appeared to fire them up. Scoring 28 points in the second period, a further 23 points in the second half, and limited the Texans to just ten points after the first interval, the Chiefs ran out 51-31 winners.
Then came the upstart Tennessee Titans, led by the red-hot Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Once again, the opposition took an early lead, going 10-0 up. A much more patient display from the Chiefs saw them take a four-point lead at the half and go on to win 35-24.
49ers vs. Chiefs is a Worthy Super Bowl Matchup
Both teams fully deserved to be at the 2020 Super Bowl, having put in a stellar showing throughout the NFL season.