MATCHUP TO WATCH: TRAVIS KELCE vs 49ERS LINEBACKERS
The 49ers’ linebackers will face a significant challenge covering Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who led all tight ends with 393 receiving yards against linebackers as the nearest defender this season. Kelce also led all tight ends with 562 receiving yards in the middle third of the field.
On the other side of the ball, the 49ers defense has locked down the middle third since drafting linebacker Fred Warner in 2018, allowing the lowest yards per attempt (7.0) to that area of the field as a unit over that span. Warner’s play has been complemented by that of fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who allowed the 19th-most yards among linebackers in zone coverage this season (341) despite facing the second-most targets (66).
MATCHUP TO WATCH: NICK BOSA vs JAWAAN TAYLOR
Another key matchup to watch is 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa against Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor. Taylor allowed the longest average time to pressure among all offensive tackles with at least 300 pass blocking snaps this season (3.97 seconds, including playoffs). Bosa, who primarily lines up at the left edge position, needs 11 pressures in the Super Bowl to set the single-season Next Gen Stats pressures record since 2018. His 104 pressures entering Sunday ranks fourth-most in that span. Bosa pressured Mahomes nine times in Super Bowl LIV.
PATRICK MAHOMES BY AIR YARDS
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was at his best on shorter passes this season, recording the most completions (320) and touchdowns (19) on passes traveling less than 10 air yards during the regular season. This prowess was evident against the Ravens in the AFC Championship, where he completed 26 of 28 passes for 159 yards on such attempts.
However, there's been a notable shift in Mahomes' once-signature deep ball (i.e., passes over 20 air yards). From 2018-2021, Mahomes led all quarterbacks with 44 deep touchdown passes. Since 2022, he has added just two more. In the Divisional Round against the Bills, Mahomes' performance marked only his second game in the last two seasons with three or more deep completions, finishing 3 for 3 for 84 yards and a touchdown on passes over 20 air yards. His 22-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce late in the second quarter was his first deep touchdown pass since Week 7
ISIAH PACHECO AFTER CONTACT
Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco has had a successful sophomore season, leading the league with an average of 4.7 yards per carry against stacked boxes (i.e., 8+ defenders in the box) through the playoffs among rushers with at least 30 carries. Pacheco also ranked fifth in yards after contact per carry (3.5) during the regular season among rushers with at least 100 carries, with 77.1% of his total rushing yards coming after contact.