SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has spent hours in the film room, watching the way opposing quarterbacks have attacked San Francisco’s fearsome pass rush.
Of particular interest has been Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown and passed for another 105 yards and a score in his team’s 20-17 last-second regular season win over San Francisco earlier this year.READ MORE: UPDATE: Pleasanton Police Announce Body Found Matching Description of Missing Jogger Philip Kreycik
“I watch everyone in the league to see what they are doing,” he said. “I think you do that a lot as a quarterback. For me, I know I can’t jook like Lamar or do stuff like that, but I feel like I can extend plays. When I watch a similar opponents, like when Lamar was playing the 49ers and seeing how he can extend plays. I know that some stuff I can take away.”
Stopping Mahomes and the big plays he generates will be a major challenge for the 49ers defense when they square off against the Chief in Super Bowl LIV. It’s a task that is keeping San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and his staff in their offense until late into the evening.
“There are a lot of quarterbacks in this league who say no to (their) No.1 (receiver) and then it just becomes street ball,” Saleh said.
But that’s not the case with Mahomes. He is very disciplined. Every move, even when a play breaks down, is calculated.
“He gets rid of the ball on time,” Saleh said. “He puts it where it needs to be. He hits a lot of throws in rhythm and when he needs to take his shot, he knows how to bid time in the pocket and do it. He’s a superstar in every way you can imagine. He’s going to be tough to deal with.”
Saleh believes his pass rush will need to match Mahomes’ disciplined demeanor.
“Every week, whether you are playing a guy like Mahomes or a statue, it doesn’t matter, you have to have respect for where he is in the pocket,” the 49ers defensive strategist said. “Your pass rush has to tie in with one another so you are just not carelessly rushing the passer. Even a statue can buy time and escape the pocket and create an explosive play.”READ MORE: COVID: SF Allows Supplemental Dose Of Pfizer Or Moderna For J&J Vaccine Recipients
Saleh believes the fact the 49ers have faced Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and Jackson this season will help.
“The more experiences you get at dealing with quarterbacks of his style can only help you,” he said.
To keep Mahomes in check, the 49ers edge rushers — rookie Nick Bosa and former Chief Dee Ford — will play a pivotal role in keeping the Chief’s quarterback from extending plays. With Mahomes, even an extra second or two can prove costly.
“The speed that they bring to be able to run with a guy like Mahomes (will be important),” Saleh said. “When you have edge rushers it speeds up the process of the quarterback. Not that he needs speeding up, he already gets rid of it pretty quick.”
Mahomes also has a characteristic shared by all great scrambling quarterback — he runs only when all his other options simply aren’t available.
“Whenever I’m scrambling, I keep my eyes down field,” he said. “I’ve never been the fastest guy, so I always want to get the guys like Tyree (Hill) and (LeSean) McCoy and Travis (Kelce) and Sammy (Watkins).”
It’s that overall team speed that has Saleh up late at night.
“They’re the fastest team by far,” he said. “To try to compare it to another team would not do them justice, to be honest with you. But, anytime you have speed like that it naturally will stress the defense.”MORE NEWS: Drought Prompts California To Halt Some Water Diversions
“At every position, it almost looks like they got their roster from the Olympic relay team,” he added. “They’re a special group and you can see why they’re there.”