It's Super Bowl season!
Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers are set to battle the Kansas City Chiefs for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 58. The early lines are out and bookmakers have this year's matchup as a tight one, with San Francisco currently favored by two points at most sporstbooks.
But, one team has to win. My buddy Nick Holz already broke down three reasons the Chiefs will be that team, but I'm taking a different angle. So, here are three reasons why the San Francisco 49ers will win Super Bowl 58, punching a hole in the Chiefs' attempted dynasty:
Christian McCaffrey isn't A key. He's THE key to the 49ers' offensive success — the biggest X-Factor in the NFL. The 49ers do-it-all running back has touched the ball at least 18 times every week since Week 6 this season. In two playoff games this year, he's had the ball in his hands 24 times each contest.
If the Chiefs are going to stop San Fran's offense, they're going to have to stop CMC. I don't think that's going to happen.
The Chiefs allowed the fourth-most rushing yards to RBs among all playoff teams this season (1478). They also allowed the fourth-most receiving touchdowns to the position, among all 32 teams. In terms of yards per carry against, the Chiefs were the seventh-worst team in the NFL (allowing 4.5 YPC). Steve Spagnuolo's KC defense was amazing this year, but there's a McCaffrey-sized weak point right in the middle of it.
Christian McCaffrey folded CJ Gardner-Johnson like a napkin 😂 pic.twitter.com/DBeL6VoGzE— Alex Tran (@nineralex) January 29, 2024
There's a reason McCaffrey is the first non-QB listed in Super Bowl MVP odds, sitting at +450 to win the award.
Keeping Kelce Off the Board
The 49ers have allowed some yardage to tight ends this year, for sure. TJ Hockenson had a 100-yard day against them early in the season and Lions TE Sam LaPorta still put up 97 yards on the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. But, San Fran linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw have been elite at covering tight ends when it matters most — the red zone.
The 49ers have allowed just three touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, the second-fewest in football. Facing LaPorta and Packers TE1 Luke Musgrave so far this postseason, the 49ers have yet to allow a tight end to score in the playoffs.
Against a playmaker like Travis Kelce, that defensive strength will be crucial. Sure, the Chiefs have a few different ways to score, but Kelce is obviously the top target in the red zone. He's caught 23 of his 27 targets so far this postseason for over 250 yards and three touchdowns (in three games).
In three career regular-season games against the 49ers, Kelce has just one touchdown. Last time the 49ers played the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, they held Kelce to just 43 yards and one score (back then, the Chiefs had enough other weapons to survive a quiet Kelce day). If San Francisco can contain Kelce in the red zone this year, the 49ers should be just fine.
The Key Numbers Say So
When I first go to handicap a game, I look at the injury report and then look at three key numbers:
All three of these metrics lean San Francisco:
These numbers are not the defining factor of handicapping a game, by any means. And, all three numbers still like the Chiefs. But, coupled with some matchup advantages across the board and a particularly healthy roster, San Francisco's edge in these key stats is a big reason they'll win Super Bowl 58.