This week will be full of the national media focusing on these two final teams and breaking down the matchup. Most of the talk on the Chiefs side will focus on the familiar names like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, and head coach Andy Reid. The more knowledgeable may even bring up Steve Spagnuolo's defense and the outstanding play this season of guys like L'Jarius Sneed.
That being said, three position groups for the Chiefs may not include Kansas City's biggest names, but they will likely have a huge impact on who wins this game. We know that, if given the chance, Patrick Mahomes can and will lead this team to another championship. What the Chiefs need is for these three position groups not to let the team down and allow the 49ers to take control of the game away from Mahomes.
Let's begin with the group I've got at number three. It's also the position group that might be flying under the radar the most when it comes to this matchup.
3. The Chiefs linebackers
The Chiefs' defense has been fantastic this season. They have a chance to make a real statement if they can continue their dominance against the 49ers on Sunday and help lead this team to another Super Bowl. Chris Jones is KC's biggest name on defense and his play will be important, as will that of George Karlaftis and Mike Danna, especially with Charles Omenihu out. Steve Spagnuolo is finally receiving the praise he deserves, as is their secondary with guys like Trent McDuffie and L'Jarius Sneed playing fantastic all season.
While all of those players will be key in this matchup, the group that the 49ers may try to exploit is KC's linebackers. How they respond will go a long way to determining how much success San Francisco can have on offense. While a LOT will be said about the play of quarterback Brock Purdy this week, the player that makes the 49ers offense go is running back Christian McCaffrey. CMC is universally viewed as the best running back in football and he's an elite weapon both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield.
Kansas City's linebackers are good tacklers, but they can fall victim to getting sucked out of position or overpursuing at times. San Francisco's coach Kyle Shanahan is a master play caller and you can bet he'll have a gameplan to try and get K.C.'s linebackers off balance. If KC's linebackers are out of position CMC will gash them in the run game. They will also have to be careful of play-action passes because if they are crashing downhill to stop the run the 49ers will drop crossing routes in behind them all day long. Shanahan will also likely try to get McCaffrey matched up one-on-one with linebackers in coverage, a matchup that heavily favors San Francisco.
Would it be great if the Chiefs linebackers made huge plays in this game like Nick Bolton did versus the Philadelphia Eagles in last year's Super Bowl? Sure, but all the Chiefs need is for their linebackers not to be a liability or weakness for the unit. If the foursome of Nick Bolton, Drue Tranquill, Leo Chenal, and Willie Gay (assuming he plays) can just have a solid day on Sunday then I trust the rest of KC's defense and Spagnuolo's gameplan to get the job done.
Next up is the position group that has taken the most criticism this season.