Sunday, January 24, 2021

Super Bowl 54: Five players to watch on the San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are heading to Miami to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

The Super Bowl is the one sporting event guaranteed to attract football fanatics and sports novices alike as millions gather to see who will come out on top.

The San Francisco 49ers ran the ball 89 times over the course of their two playoff games so far against the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers.

Meanwhile, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was asked to throw the ball just 27 times, meaning everyone is waiting to see if Kyle Shanahan will stick to his game plan when he takes on Kansas City on Sunday.

Here’s the players you should be looking out for.

Nick Bosa – Defensive end

If anybody can put pressure on star quarterback Patrick Mahomes it’s rookie defensive end Nick Bosa.

The guy has delivered time and time again, recording 32 tackles and nine sacks in his first year with the San Francisco 49ers.

The 22-year-old was named defensive player of the month in October and has already recorded three sacks during his first playoff run.

With Patrick Mahomes playing such an important role in the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense, any pressure Bosa can bring could prove detrimental to the young quarterback’s game plan.

If Mahomes is kept off balance by Bosa and the rest of the defensive line, it could be a decisive factor in the biggest match-up of the year.

Raheem Mostert – Running back

It is hard to imagine six teams cutting 27-year-old Raheem Mostert before he settled at the San Francisco 49ers.

The running back has become a national star after his performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game.

San Francisco have relied heavily on the running game during their playoff stint and Mostert was a huge part of this game plan last week with his record-breaking performance.

San Francisco 49ers

Mostert put up 220 yards and four touchdowns in a wholly dominant performance and all eyes should be in his direction come Sunday to see if his incredible form can continue.

Mostert’s success largely came from teammate Tevin Coleman’s dislocated shoulder and, although Coleman is likely to take the field in Miami, look to Mostert to continue his dominance in the Niners’ running game.

With Kansas City ranked 26th in run-defense, don’t expect Kyle Shanahan to swerve from his successful game plan when the two meet next Sunday.

George Kittle – Tight end

While the Kansas City Chiefs have Travis Kelce, the San Francisco 49ers have George Kittle who has been as productive as they come for the 49ers this season.

Through the first four weeks of the season, Kittle recorded the highest Pro Football Focus grade of any player in the NFL

Because of this, he is often a target for double coverage by their opponent’s defense.

Kittle, who is now in his third season with the franchise, has largely been wrapped up during their playoff run.

During the team’s victory over the Vikings, he only recorded 16 yards while that was increased to 19 yards against Green Bay in the NFC Championship game.

Kittle could prove to be a decisive factor against the Chiefs who have allowed 961 yards to tight ends this season – the fifth most in the NFL.

If Kansas City’s defense can force Garoppolo to throw the ball, look for Kittle to see plenty of action during the Super Bowl as their top receiving weapon.

San Francisco 49ers

Jaquiski TarttSafety

The San Francisco 49ers were dominant on defense throughout the regular season, allowing an NFL-low 34 passing plays of 20 yards or more.

This is largely due to the performance of the team’s safeties and, during the playoffs, Jaquiski Tartt has proved invaluable, recording six tackles and one assist in their victory over the Green Bay Packers.

The Kansas City Chiefs have plenty of weapons in their receiver corp and the 49ers’ safeties will be vital in wrapping these guys up to stifle Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

If Tartt can repeat his performance against the Green Bay Packers and keep the likes of Travis Kelce at bay then Mahomes could be forced to make mistakes in his first Super Bowl appearance.

Jimmy Garoppolo – Quarterback

Just like Patrick Mahomes is worthy of a mention due to his outstanding performance, Garoppolo’s presence, or lack of it, will draw a lot of attention next Sunday.

As we’ve already mentioned, Garoppolo has only been asked to throw the ball 27 times in the team’s two playoff games.

Some have speculated that this is because he could be injured. Others have speculated it’s because he just isn’t that good a quarterback.

READ MORE: Five players to watch on the Kansas City Chiefs

But we can’t ignore the facts. Jimmy G has an impressive 21-5 record when starting for the 49ers and that isn’t through luck.

Should the Chiefs shut down the 49ers formidable running game, Jimmy G will have to step up and throw the ball.

He has had plenty of experience at Super Bowls during his tenure with the New England Patriots but how he handles the pressure when he is under centre himself could mean the difference between victory and a soul-crushing defeat in Miami.

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