I think if you look at the league as a whole, you might pencil in these two teams as the two best linebacking units. San Francisco boasts what many would consider the best linebacker in the league in Fred Warner to go along with his talented teammate, Dre Greenlaw.
What the Chiefs have that they do not though, is depth. Kansas City goes four deep at the position as Nick Bolton, Drue Tranquill, Willie Gay and Leo Chenal all play a serious amount of snaps and all have a niche role in the defense. One aspect of this unit too, is they have combined for 8.5 sacks as well, while the 49ers linebackers have tallied 5.
What separates Warner and Greenlaw from the rest of the league is their ability to cover the pass. They both reside in the top 12 in PFF’s coverage grade for all linebackers. They run sideline to sideline with the best of them. I still do not think either one of them can contain Kelce though, so that is only so valuable against the Chiefs.
What will be interesting for the Chiefs in this game is how Spagnuolo will deploy his linebackers in a game like this. Containing McCaffrey will be of the utmost importance and the Chiefs have the horses to pull it off. The 49ers also have elite pass catchers though, which could spark Spagnuolo to give San Francisco a light box and deploy a fifth defensive back, which would negate the advantage the Chiefs have with their four linebackers.
As high as I am on the Chiefs backers, especially Tranquill with his versatility, I think the top two of the 49ers linebackers is too much to ignore. The reality is the Cheifs might have to roll with two linebackers for much of the game. Gay and Tranquill will need to be able to cover McCaffrey on the boundary without over-pursuing and Chenal and Bolton will need to be able to plug the gaps and make tackles. It will be up to Spags to call the right plays and schemes at the right time. Warner and Greenlaw will be out there for nearly 100 percent of the snaps though, because they are so versatile.