Chiefs and 49ers have high-profile offenses, but defense should decide the Super Bowl winner

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Chiefs go as far as Patrick Mahomes takes them. The 49ers have Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and a star-studded group surrounding Brock Purdy.

This Super Bowl will come down to the other side of the ball.

Defense wins the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.

Mahomes, Travis Kelce and coach Andy Reid get most of the attention on the Chiefs (14-6), but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit deserves plenty of credit for carrying the team during various points of the season when the offense was inconsistent and out of sync.

All-Pros Chris Jones and Trent McDuffie along with George Karlaftis, L’Jarius Sneed and others stepped up, giving the Chiefs their best defense of Mahomes’ era.

They’ll need to do it for one more game against a versatile, dynamic offense.

The 49ers (14-5) also have a formidable defense led by Nick Bosa, All-Pro Fred Warner, Javon Hargrave and Charvarius Ward. They’ve struggled in the postseason, especially making third-down stops.

They have to be better against Mahomes and the Chiefs to have a shot to win.

WHEN THE 49ERS HAVE THE BALL

The 49ers had the league’s third-ranked rushing attack behind McCaffrey and fourth-ranked passing offense behind Purdy. The Chiefs gave up the second-fewest points (17.3), were fourth against the pass and 18th against the run.

McCaffrey, tight end Kittle, left tackle Trent Williams and fullback Kyle Juszczyk were All-Pros. Brandon Aiyuk was a second-team All-Pro. Samuel is a versatile, do-everything player.

The 49ers have plenty of weapons, and coach Kyle Shanahan is known for finding innovative ways to use them and keep defenses off balance. He’s facing a master tactician in Spagnuolo.

 

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