Brock Purdy, with only two full seasons at the 49ers helm, has demonstrated he can operate on the big stage and excel under post-season pressure. All Brock did in 2023 (his season two) was lead the league in passing efficiency and average yards per attempt. He added 31 TD passes with only 11 picks. In five career playoff games he has a passer rating of 98.2 with 5 TD passes and only one interception. He has led the 49ers to a 5-1 record in those games including comeback wins vs Green Bay and Detroit (down 17 at half) in this post-season.
Patrick Mahomes is on a different planet, or at least approaching the orbit of Tom Brady. Patrick is only the 8th QB to start in four Super Bowls (Staubach, Brady, Montana, Bradshaw, Kelly, Elway and Peyton Manning).With a Chiefs win Mahomes would tie Troy Aikman with 3 Super Bowl wins each. He would trail only Joe Montana (4), Terry Bradshaw (4) and the iconic Tom Brady (7). Is Mahomes in reach of Brady? Mmmm… maybe.
Both of these Quarterbacks have proven their mettle in the big games over the past two years. So Purdy and Mahomes are not matched vs one another, they are fighting against two very good coaching staffs and two very good defenses. They are also competing against history.
Just how Valuable is a Great Coach?
The 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, does not have Andy Reid’s resume (nor experience) but he’s already building a legacy early in his head coaching career. His stepping stone was, as Offensive Coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, taking the Dirty Birds to a 28-3 halftime lead over Brady’s Patriots in Super Bowl Ll. Alas, we all know the Falcons blew the lead (just run the friggin ball!) and I ended up wearing a Patriots Jersey (#11 Edelman) for an entire week in Atlanta. No one seemed to believe it was all because I lost a bet to my wife (a maniacal Pats fan). But, I digress.
Shanahan was named 49ers head coach the following season (2017) and has led the team to four playoff appearances including three division titles and four NFC Championship games. Two of those playoff runs led to Super Bowl appearances (2019 and 2024). This is not Kyle’s first rodeo. He gets it honestly as his dad, Mike, led Denver to back-to-back Super Bowls wins in 1998-99.
Brock Purdy and Patrick Mahomes will not be playing as much against each other as they will be playing against the opposing coaching staffs. Here we need to give the edge to Andy Reid. When not appearing on State Farm commercials with his QB, he’s been building quite the head coaching resume. Andy will be appearing in his 5th Super Bowl this post-season thus tying him with Tom Landry. It puts him behind only Bill Belichick (9) and Don Shula (6). Reid has won 2 of the Big Games and still trails Joe Gibbs (3), Bill Walsh (3), Chuck Noel (4) and Belichick (6) in total Super Bowl victories.
Can History Repeat?
By the way, the Chiefs are looking to win back-to-back Super Bowls, and that has only happened eight times. The last being the Patriot’s back-to-back in 2004-5. This is also one of the few repeat matchups as the Chiefs beat the 49ers back in 2020 after San Francisco blew a 10 point lead and lost 31-20. This is only the 8th repeat matchup in Super Bowl history.
What Happens in Vegas… Will be Blasted Around the World
It is also the first time the game has been played in Las Vegas, and it will be Reba McEntire’s first National Anthem and Usher’s first half-time gig. Since the NFL has “conspired” to bring Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce together for the game you can count on a record setting viewing audience. It’s also assumed the “Deep State” will be streaming the game on the Dark Web (yikes!). There has been no indication as to whether brother Jason Kelce will go topless.
The Chiefs Will Bring It!
But, that does bring us up to the supporting casts of these two warrior teams. Brock Purdy is not facing Patrick Mahomes. No, he’s facing a Chief’s defense that brings a ton of pressure. In fact, KC ranked #2 in total sacks with 57 during the regular season (Baltimore had 60). Plus the Chief’s defense has given up a measly 17.3 points per game which is also #2 to Baltimore (16.5). The Chiefs are stingy and were second to only Cleveland in yards allowed per game. In this post-season, the Chiefs shut down high-scoring Miami and Baltimore, holding them both to 10 points or less.
The Chiefs bring pressure. Brock Purdy will see a lot of fronts and multiple blitz packages. The Chiefs led the NFL with an 8.6% sack rate and they were 11th in pressure rate (37.6). KC brings pressure because they have two outstanding cornerbacks who excel at man to man coverage. L’Jarius Sneed takes away the deep lanes and can do it without FS help. Trent McDuffie is a shut-down Nickel back and All-Pro in only his second year.
But This Christian Beat the Lions
Enter Christian McCaffrey. Because they gamble with pressure, the Chiefs can be susceptible to the run. Christian just happens to be the leading rusher in the NFL this year (1,459 yards 14 TDs). He’s also great receiving out of the backfield (67 recs, 7 TDs), another KC weakness. Did I mention McCaffrey’s dad Ed, who had a long career with the Broncos, is from Allentown, PA?
The key to Brock Purdy’s success with the long ball? Two guys: Trent Williams (blindside LT) and Colton McKivitz (RT). They will have their hands full against the multiple blitz packages Chief’s DC Steve Spagnuolo will throw at them. Chris Jones is the star defensive tackle and gets help from DE George Karlaftis who seems to have an endless motor. Look for double-teams on Jones all night.
The 49ers Have Firepower!
But, Purdy has guns! The 49ers were #2 in the NFL in total yards with 398.4/per game (Dolphins 401.3) and were #3 in points scored at 28.9 pts/game (Cowboys 29.9 and Dolphins 29.2). How? They have arguably the best WR duo in the league with Deebo Samuel (60 receptions, 892 yards, 7 TDs) and Brandon Aiyuk (75 receptions, 1,342 yards, 7 TDs). Toss in George Kittle (65 rec, 1,020 yds, 6 TDs), the best tight end this side of Travis Kelce, and you have a formidable offense when paired with rushing leader McCaffery. The problem here is depth. Not much explosiveness beyond this group.
Live by the Blitz and Die by the Blitz when Facing Patrick Mahomes
Meanwhile Patrick Mahomes has his own problems. While the Chiefs like to blitz, the 49ers are not as aggressive with blitz packages. This could work against Mahomes. San Francisco plays a, “bend but don’t break” type defense. They sit back in a lot of zone coverages. Patrick Mahomes shreds blitz pressure. In fact, he has posted a higher career passer rating (116.5) when facing 5+ pass rushers vs 4 or fewer. Many teams have given up blitzing Mahomes. Patrick has become a master at reading the blitz and checking to the appropriate blitz pickup. I don’t see the 49ers challenging these Mahomes blitz skills too often. But that doesn’t mean the 49ers won’t bring pressure from their standard front four. The 49ers have two of the most athletic edge rushers in the NFL with Buckeyes’ Nick Bosa (10.5 sacks) and Chase Young (7.5 sacks).
The Chiefs will try and keep them from pinning back their ears and rushing up field by handing off to RB Isiah Pacheco, their new secret weapon. A seventh round draft choice, Pacheco has blossomed in the playoffs with an impressive 63 carries in the three playoff games. He’s averaging 4.0 yards per carry and was a difference maker late in the Ravens game. Add in the Chiefs’ other weapons of emerging WR star Rashee Rice (79 rec, 938 yds, 7 TDs) and All-Pro TE Travis Kelce (93 rec, 984 yds, 5 TDs) and Mahomes has formidable weapons to go with his wizardry. But here again, depth is a problem, and the Chiefs cannot afford an early injury.
What’s in a Number?
So that brings us back to the QBs. Every NFL pundit has evaluated the offenses, defenses and special teams. We’ve all taken a look at the historical perspective and the unique and exclusive clubs in which these players and coaches have earned membership. But, there is one more wild card to consider. The numbers. Recall I had to suffer wearing Julian Edelman’s #11 jersey for a week because I lost a Super Bowl bet to my wife. Why #11? Because he was her favorite player and #11 was also my college and pro number. A double whammy.
Well, Patrick Mahomes wears #15. In the 58 year history of the Super Bowl only three other QBs have worn #15 and won the Super Bowl. Bart Starr won the first two for the Packers in 1966-67. Earl Morrall was a three-time Super Bowl Champion with the Colts and Dolphins in Super Bowls V, Vll, and Vlll. And finally, Jeff Hostettler won Super Bowl XXV with the New York Football Giants.
On the other hand only one NFL Quarterback has worn Brock Purdy’s lucky #13 to victory in the Super Bowl. It’s one of the all-time Cinderella stories, as undrafted Kurt Warner made three Super Bowl appearances with the St Louis Rams (2) and the Arizona Cardinals. In 1999 with the Rams Warner won Super Bowl XXXIV and the game MVP award. That’s a pretty good vibe.
And I like Cinderella stories. You know, Taylor Swift is kinda like Cinderella, isn’t she? She was born and lived on a Christmas tree farm. Yeah, and she won her first talent contest at age 11 singing LeAnn Rimes’ “Big Deal” which proved prophetic. At age 20 Taylor became the youngest artist in history to win a Grammy for Best Album of the Year, it was called “Speak Now.” And now, she’s going to the Super Bowl to cheer on her beau Travis.
Do you know what Taylor’s favorite number is? Well, unfortunately it’s not 87. That would have been too good to be true. No, it’s 13! Oops. Her favorite number is the same as the 49ers QB Brock Purdy. Something’s got to give.
OK, that’s all pretty weird… And after all this conspiracy bullshit I’m thinking Taylor and Travis are going to have the last word. On February 11 they’re going to “Speak Now” in their own respective ways. And that means as I suggested last week, Patrick Mahomes will be the last QB standing and with his third Super Bowl win.