(KPIX)- The Super Bowl is now just five days away, and both teams have arrived in South Beach to begin their final preparations for the big game. With the crazy atmosphere that is Super Bowl Media Night out of the way, it’s time to break down the actual on-field matchup between the two squads.
The biggest question facing the San Francisco 49ers defense is what to do with the Kansas City Chiefs’ speed at wide receiver. And while that is likely to give defensive coordinator Robert Saleh some sleepless nights, the 49ers pose a problem of their own on offense.
As any 49ers fan knows from watching their performances this season, the ‘Niners running game is one of the best in the league and also one of the most varied. The ground game has been particularly effective in the postseason rushing for 471 yards on 89 carries, good for a 5.3 yards per carry average. Former journeyman running back Raheem Mostert has done the lion’s share of the damage, and it would appear, on paper, at least, that the Niners’ run game once again has the advantage.
Outside of their performance slowing Derrick Henry, the Chiefs defense hasn’t been overly effective stopping the run this season. They ranked 26th in rush yards allowed per game (128.2) and 28th in yards per carry (4.9). The play of the front seven was impressive in the AFC Championship win over the Titans, holding the aforementioned Henry to just 69 yards on 19 carries. And Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker and Inside The NFL analyst Ray Lewis believes the Chiefs will need another similar performance to hold off the ‘Niners’ rushing attack.
“How does the Kansas City front seven slow down that run game? If they can’t stop them running the ball, with seven men, they’re going to have to insert somebody in the box. If you have to insert somebody in the box, that is where Jimmy Garoppolo thrives,” said Lewis. “Now, the play-action has come up. Now, you have San Fran receivers one-on-one. Now, they start to roll. But I think Kansas City has to have the best game of their life as a front seven.”
We’ll see how things play out on Sunday. But, for the moment, the public believes in the Chiefs, as Kansas City currently sits as a slight, 1.5-point favorite entering Sunday’s contest. Kickoff for Super Bowl LIV is set for 3:30 p.m. PST from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.
You can catch Ray Lewis along with Phil Simms, Michael Irvin, Brandon Marshall and host James Brown on Inside The NFL every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.