Super Bowl LIV – The Key Players to Watch

Table of Contents

-Offence

-Defence

-Special Teams

“One man doesn’t make a team”, they say. Nevertheless, there are always key players who regularly stand head and shoulders above the rest, producing special moments that leave us on the edge of our seats, amazed by their abilities and impact during any given game.

Although teamwork and cohesive unit strategies are essential in pro football, there are often individual players who can make all the difference. Players who throw that stellar pass for a touchdown, players who catch them at the other end, players who rise highest to intercept, and players like a one-man wall who make crucial tackles.

As the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs get ready for Super Bowl LIV, we take a look at key players in each three-team “platoons” who could prove to be game-changers on February 2, 2020.

Offence

The Ones to Watch

Every team needs a great quarterback, and with Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers certainly have that. Having already won the Super Bowl twice with the New England Patriots, his experience of the pressure, tension and sense of occasion could come in handy even if he was on the sidelines for the aforementioned Super Bowls. His connection with running back Raheem Mostert will be just as important, making a name for himself in the playoffs and tipped as one of the favourites to become the First Touchdown Scorer at the Super Bowl.

If it’s star power you’re looking for, then the biggest name in the Super Bowl this year could be Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The 2018 NFL MVP has enjoyed an excellent 2019 and took it up a notch in the playoffs by leading the Chiefs to two comeback victories. That said, receiving those precision passes is also crucial, which is why tight end Travis Kelce will have a big role to play, given he’s a popular throwing target for Mahomes.

Stats and Team Importance

Garoppolo has been a fantastic quarterback for several years, although 2019 has actually been his career-best season statistically, which is great news for the 49ers heading into the Super Bowl. Despite Raheem Mostert not starting any of the 16 regular season games, he rushed for 772 yards and made a noticeable contribution. After his introduction in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, Mostert rushed for a franchise-record of 220 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Patrick Mahomes couldn’t quite match his amazing 2018 regular season stats in 2019, but he’s been exceptional in the postseason, helping the Chiefs become the first NFL team to overcome 10-0 deficits in two straight games, accurate with 65.7% of his passes with 8 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Likewise, Travis Kelce has proven invaluable as the receiving outlet in the playoffs, catching three touchdown passes launched by Mahomes in the 51-31 divisional win against the Houston Texans.

Defence

The Ones to Watch

As the 2019 Rookie of the Year, defensive end Nick Bosa has been a pivotal pass rusher for the 49ers throughout the regular season, playing all 16 games and starting 14 during his debut campaign. Having already won Super Bowl XLVIII and appearing at another with the Seattle Seahawks, Richard Sherman gives the 49ers important experience heading into Super Bowl LIV, having been a vital defensive component during the playoffs.

The Chiefs made a poor start to the regular season defensively, although they made significant improvements in the back end of the campaign and playoffs. This was largely down to two members of their defensive unit, with strong safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Frank Clark hitting great form with tackles and sacks. That form has continued into the postseason playoffs, providing solidity along the back line for the Chiefs.

Stats and Team Importance

After joining the 49ers as a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft, the 49ers really couldn’t have asked for a better debut campaign from Nick Bosa. He was a key component as the 49ers defence conceded only 30 points during the playoffs, being part of a tight unit which also forced five turnovers. Richard Sherman was equally important defensively, making a crucial late interception during the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, which ultimately guaranteed that his team would make Super Bowl LIV.

Given that both players were 2019 Pro Bowl selections, Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark found the going tough during the first 10 games of the regular season as the Chiefs endured one of the worst defensive records in the league. However, their form in both tackles and sacks notably improved as the defence gradually became a cohesive unit. In the playoffs they were spectacular, limiting running back Derrick Henry to just 69 yards when the Chiefs secured their 35-24 AFC Championship triumph against the Tennessee Titans.

Special Teams

The Ones to Watch

Given that both the 49ers and the Chiefs can count on highly reliable kickers, it’s no surprise to find that betting odds are even in the Team to Convert 1st Field Goal market. Boasting 15 seasons in the NFL, Robbie Gould gives the 49ers plenty of experience when it comes to converting important kicks during games. Meanwhile, despite being relatively inexperienced by comparison, Harrison Butker has shown calmness and superb accuracy throughout the 2019 regular season with the Chiefs.

Stats and Team Importance

Robbie Gould has registered steady numbers throughout the 2019 season, successfully converting 74.2% of his field goal attempts, while his importance for the 49ers during the playoffs is underlined by having converted 100% from 5 attempts in two games. Harrison Butker topped the NFL kicking charts during the regular season, thanks to getting 89.5% of his field goal attempts between the posts, although he was only called upon once during the playoffs, converting successfully.