Mahomes is 28 years old and he has won three Super Bowls in his six seasons as the Chiefs’ starting QB. All in classic comeback fashion and all culminating in him garnering the Super Bowl MVP award.
Mahomes is the wizard on the field.
Yet, Andy Reid is the wizard behind the curtain — for Reid has demonstrated time and time again to save the perfect play for the perfect time — which after the game inspired Patrick Mahomes to call his head coach a play-calling “genius.”
Much like Andy Reid did last year coming from being to beat the Eagles 38-35 in Glendale Arizona, the head coach used come cunning WR motion to create confusion for the opposition’s defensive backs, while creating a wide-open scoring opportunity for Patrick Mahomes — and with it an avalanche of red and yellow confetti.
Reid has All-World TE Travis Kelce flexed to the right — and when WR Mecole Hardman runs “short notion,” Hardman’s original defender #7, CB Charvarius Ward shifts down to cover Kelce in what is typically called a coverage “handoff.” Little does Ward suspect that Hardman would reverse his motion and be able to make an out cut right under Kelce’s stick route which would leave him wide-open for the opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Notice that once Kelce knows that Ward is now covering him, he already knows the play is going to be a TD. Kelce doesn’t even turn back to look.
For Kyle Shanahan this marks the 3rd time that he has lost leads in a Super Bowl as OC in ATL (vs. Patriots) and twice as the HC in SF (both vs. Chiefs).
While Shanahan deserves to be lauded for the creative passing plays that enables Jauan Jennings to tie a Super Bowl record for throwing and catching a TD in a game, the 49ers’ first-year DC, Steve Wilks should be highly commended for limiting Mahomes and the Chief’s offense to 1 TD and 4 field goals in regulation (19 points), thanks to a textbook 4 man pass rush that consistently manifested a disciplined “lane integrity” that was designed to prevent Patrick Mahomes from breaking contain on his patented scrambles.
Shanahan also deserves a ton of credit for going for it on 4th and 3 from the Chief’s 15 yard line, down 13-10 with 12:46 remaining in the game, which eventually led to a successful 4 yard conversion by Christian McCaffery and then the brilliant 10-yard TD pass from brock Purdy to Jauan Jennings to take the lead 16-13 (the ensuing PAT was blocked).
However, what may haunt Kyle Shanahan and the 2023 49ers for years to come were:
- The special teams’ miscues — Jake Moody’s blocked line-drive extra point and the punt coverage team failing to hear the “Peter” call that a punt returner is required to make when he in unable to field the punt.
- At a couple of key times in the game, abandoning the running game.
- Electing to take the ball first in OT, especially in light of the recently amended OT rules.
- Electing to kick a FG in OT on 4th and 4 from the Chiefs’ 9-yard line — especially having done for it in the red zone earlier in the 4th quarter with the understanding that beating the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes typically requires touchdowns and not settling for FGs.
- By going for the FG, what Shanahan essentially did was put the game on Steve Wilks’ and the defense’s backs — to at the very least hold the Chiefs to a FG. Yet, knowing Patrick Mahomes’ penchant for delivering game-ending touchdown drives, Shanahan took a huge gamble.
- In the Chiefs’ TD drive Mahomes took charge throwing a number of short passes and rushing himself for 27 yards in key short yardage situations on designed option plays. The incredibly clutch first one for 8 yards was on 4th and 1 on the Chiefs’ own 34-yard line and the second one was on a 19-yard scamper right up the middle on a 3rd and 1 from the 49ers’ 32 yard-line, that took the ball down to the 49ers’ 13-yard line, which eventually set up the game winner.
- One key and very intriguing moment during the drive was when Kyle Shanahan called timeout when, just as CBS color commentator Tony Romo aptly detected, Steve Wilks had showed a “Zero” cover (which typically means no FS in the middle of the field). It was on 2nd and 6 from the 49ers’ 37-yard line. Shanahan looked especially perturbed by Wilks’ call and minutes later Wilks was seen telling his players, “OK, let’s go with this call.”
Here, thanks to ESPN, we the remaining plays and the results:
2nd & 6 at SF 37
- (2:48 - OT) (Shotgun) P.Mahomes pass short right to I.Pacheco to SF 32 for 5 yards (F.Warner).
3rd & 1 at SF 32
- (2:07 - OT) (Shotgun) P.Mahomes scrambles up the middle to SF 13 for 19 yards (T.Gipson).
1st & 10 at SF 13
- (1:26 - OT) (Shotgun) I.Pacheco up the middle to SF 10 for 3 yards (K.Givens).
2nd & 7 at SF 10
- (0:50 - OT) (Shotgun) P.Mahomes pass short middle to T.Kelce to SF 3 for 7 yards (J.Brown; N.Bosa).
1st & Goal at SF 3
- (0:03 - OT) Mecole Hardman 3 Yd pass from Patrick Mahomes
While making a “Zero” coverage call certainly is risky versus Patrick Mahomes, Steve Wilks may have had the right idea to try to ramp up as much pressure on Mahomes as possible.
We will never know whether Wilks’ aggressive, creative call would have worked.
As a Cardinals fan, this was reminiscent in reverse of the time when Bruce Arians called a timeout at the end of regulation to chew out James Betcher for calling a prevent defense versus Aaron Rodgers in favor of switching the call to an all-out blitz, which Rodgers quickly eluded and was able to complete an incredible Hail Mary to WR Jeff Janis. Fortunately, Mike Mccarthy elected to tie the game with a PAT instead of going for what could have been a stunning upset win on a 2-point conversion.
The point is — it appears upon review of yesterday’s OT period, Kyle Shanahan played things very conservatively, on both sides of the ball. Which, as has been proven time and time again, is not the formula for beating Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
2024 Key Free Agents for the Kansas City Chiefs:
- DT Chris Jones
- CB L’Jarius Sneed
- LB Willie Gay
- LB Drue Tranquill
- S Mike Edwards
- RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
- RB Jerick McKinnon
- WR Mecole Hardman
- DT Derrick Nnadi
- ED Mike Danna
- P Tommy Townsend
2024 Key Free Agent for the San Francisco 49ers:
- ED Chase Young
- ED Randy Gregory
- DT Javon Kinlaw
- DT Sebatian Joseph
- ED Clelin Farrell
- DT Kevin Givens
- LB Demitrius Flannigan-Fowles
- S Tashaun Gibson
- What are your thoughts about the game?
- Do you think Steve Wilks will be fired and replaced with Brandon Staley, Ron Rivera or Mike Vrable? Does he, in your opinion, deserve that?
In your opinion, does Steve Wilks deserves to be fired in SF?
The 49ers DC next year will be
- Of the Chiefs’ and 49ers’ free agents which ones do you hope the Cardinals will sign? The early indications are that the Chiefs are going to use the tag on CB L’Jarious Sneed.
- Is there a sleeper type of free agent among these whom you think would be a good signing?