Audibles at the Line
Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl LIV

Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers have made Jeff Wilson active, a sign that A) Tevin Coleman's dislocated shoulder isn't 100%, B) Matt Breida likely isn't planned to have a huge workload, and C) Wilson will steal a goal-line touchdown, because that's what he does. He has 30 touches this season; five of them have ended up in the end zone.

Scott Spratt: Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy is a healthy inactive for the Chiefs. He hasn't played since Week 15 despite leading the primary Chiefs backs with a -3.5% rushing DVOA in the regular season. At the end of the regular season, stories were suggesting the team was simply resting the veteran McCoy to prepare him for the playoffs. Now, I'm a little confused about his role with the team at all this season. I guess he was simply depth, and Andy Reid (reasonably) prefers Damien Williams for his all-around contributions?

Vincent Verhei: I will go on record with this: San Francisco 34, Kansas City 31.

Aaron Schatz: My official prediction for ESPN was Kansas City 38, San Francisco 31. I've gone more towards San Francisco as I've researched the game but I think I'm still not all the way there, so I'll stick with that.

Bryan Knowles: Andrew and I both took Kansas City by seven to 12 in the Prop Bets Extravaganza. I can certainly talk myself into a 49ers victory without much trouble -- their strengths match up nearly perfectly with the Chiefs' weaknesses -- but at the end of the day, I do think the Chiefs are the better team.

Bryan Knowles: I dislike it when broadcast networks bring out new presentation during the Super Bowl. The new score bug, down-and-distance, etc. are probably fine, but they're just distracting at the moment because they're shiny and new.

Aaron Schatz: Uh-oh. Don't normally see Patrick Mahomes straight-out miss a pass to a running back like he did on third-and-3 on the first drive.

Scott Spratt: And then Richie James dropped the punt. He was super lucky it bounced back to him before several Chiefs crashed down on him.

Scott Spratt: Tevin Coleman has the 49ers' first three running back carries. So I suppose his shoulder his fine.

Dave Bernreuther: I don't like it at all, Bryan. The two logos are clustered right at the line of scrimmage and can interfere with the view if the offense runs trips or spreads out wide.

The 49ers open with a pitch to Coleman that goes nowhere, which gave Kansas City some confidence. The next two runs, including an end around to Deebo Samuel, are a lot more like what most San Francisco bettors were expecting. Throw in a first down toss to George Kittle and they're already in four-down territory.

And that was interesting... Samuel looked like he was about to throw a pass back to Jimmy Garoppolo, but he pulled it down, waited a second, and still ran a draw-ish play up the gut for a first down. Pretty good outcome for a broken trick play.

Bryan Knowles: That's really good awareness by the rookie Samuel to bring the ball down and run it when the trick pass wasn't there -- a lot of players would have just thrown it, because it's their one chance to throw it in the Super Bowl!

Drive ends up sputtering out and it's just a field goal, but the 49ers do strike first. 3-0.

Bryan Knowles: The third-down stop from Kansas City, courtesy of The Dots. Just nothing open whatsoever.

Scott Spratt: I'd estimate that 25 quarterback starters would have thrown an interception on that 8-yard toss to Tyreek Hill. Richard Sherman definitely read it correctly, but Mahomes throws the ball so hard that the ball was there before Sherman could take a second step.

Aaron Schatz: Chiefs running a surprising amount early. Damien Williams at four carries for 28 yards.

Dave Bernreuther: Jimmie Ward with a hit that fits the Bob Sanders standard of "hit him so hard I hurt myself" on Mahomes, who I was convinced was on his way in until he pulled up briefly, and I guess the whole notion of hitting him hard enough to make him less willing to run is in play here.

That cost them a first down too, so it's worth the play off for Ward. Reid wisely chooses to go for it, and the Chiefs will get four shots at the goal line now.

Bryan Knowles: Mahomes scrambles on third-and-11, gets first-down yardage ... and is slammed by Jimmie Ward, forcing a fumble backwards out of bounds. That's not a first down. After some confusion, the Chiefs (correctly) line up to go for it ... and pick it up on the direct snap. I don't know why they trotted the field goal team out to begin with!

Aaron Schatz: Andy Reid sends out the field goal team after a Patrick Mahomes scramble ends with fourth-and-1 at the 5 because of a fumble. What a terrible field goal attempt ... but they bring the offense back out! The Chiefs convert, move the ball to the 1, and take it in on second-and-goal for the touchdown.

Rivers McCown: Mahomes' running is a problem for the 49ers.

Scott Spratt: EdjSports' Game-Winning Chance model estimates that decision to run on fourth-and-1 improved the Chiefs' odds by 4.5% over a field goal attempt.

Bryan Knowles: Two plays later, Mahomes scrambles in for the touchdown. Big response drive after their first three-and-out; those nerves Mahomes seemed to have early have mostly gone away. 7-3, Chiefs.

Derrik Klassen: If that goal-line series tells us anything, it's that spinning, in some fashion or another, is Kansas City's key to victory.

Bryan Knowles: Moving forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards the end zone!

Vincent Verhei: OK, I have a new way to watch football, and it's just the best thing ever. Skip back ten seconds on your DVR, then watch the dots on Next Gen Stats live. That way you can see what happens live via the dots, then get a "replay" of why and how it happened on TV. It's fabulous. I feel like I'm getting smarter every play.

And watching the dots, I could see that Kansas City had the field goal team on the field forever, throughout the commercial break, before sending the offense back out. They have a convoluted play called with four coordinated pirouettes and a direct snap to a running back. They must have had that in their pocket ready to go, which leads me to believe that was the plan all along, and having the kicking team out there was just to confuse San Francisco. Obviously, it worked.

Then Kansas City scores on an option pitch play, their second of the first quarter. The running back could have taken the pitch and crawled into the red zone, but Mahomes kept it and took some hits to get in for the score.

Carl Yedor: Everyone at the Super Bowl party I'm at that didn't have a vested interest in a field goal was pro-go for it on the fourth-and-1. Not groundbreaking, but times have definitely been changing discourse-wise. It was just two years ago that the fact that Philly went for it on fourth-and-1 near the goal line was considered a gamble.

Vincent Verhei: One game after his 200-some-yard effort against Green Bay, Raheem Mostert finishes the first quarter with zero carries, one catch for 2 yards.

Bryan Knowles: And THERE'S the obligatory Terrible Garoppolo Interception. I suppose it's best to get it out of the way early.

Dave Bernreuther: That absurd decision and throw by Garoppolo is exactly why I wasn't willing to bet on the 49ers despite their other advantages in this one.

That was terrible.

Vincent Verhei: Bashaud Breeland for MVP! He had a big tackle for loss on a screen on second-and-8 that stopped San Francisco's first drive. Second drive, he gives up a completion to Emmanuel Sanders, but comes back with another tackle for loss on a screen, and then intercepts a Jimmy Garoppolo duck of a pass thrown under pressure.

Aaron Schatz: Sometimes you just have to take the sack. Or throw it away before the sack comes.

Vincent Verhei: As the announcers just pointed out, Kyle Shanahan's offense just committed a critical turnover in the Super Bowl because a running back missed his man and allowed the quarterback to be hit. Those who do not learn from history, I suppose.

Tom Gower: I don't even have to rewind or pause my TV to watch the dots first. The dots are ahead of Fox on this Dish Network show. It's an interesting way to watch the game, more interesting than Fox's base broadcast since you can't count on them to provide the replays I want to see.

I thought Jimmy G should have killed the screen the play before and was mentally criticizing him for that. Then he makes a far worse decision on the interception to Breeland on the subsequent play.

Aaron Schatz: I love you, fourth-and-short option. Yay, Kansas City going for it again!

Bryan Knowles: Andy Reid doesn't want to go home without a Lombardi this time.

Scott Spratt: That fourth-and-1 from the 49ers' 19-yard line was a +2.5% gain over a field goal attempt by GWC. Andy Reid on fire.

Aaron Schatz: I'm a big fan of the fourth-and-1 calls. I'm less of a fan of running the ball twice on second-and-long on that drive. Tarvarius Moore smacks the ball away from Darwin Thompson on third-and-7, and it's field goal time. 10-3 Kansas City.

Bryan Knowles: If there is one criticism of Reid here, it's a back-to-back runs on second-and-long. Four-down territory doesn't mean you can just waste second down.

The 49ers stiffen up, so it's still a one-score game; 10-3.

Vincent Verhei: I thought Mahomes would need to make a big play with his legs to win the game. Turns out the threat of those legs may be enough -- the option game has worked every time Kansas City has used it.

But on third down, Tarvarius Moore breaks up a pass to Darwin Thompson, and the Chiefs are held to a field goal and a 10-3 lead.

(Hey Scott, Thompson already has a goal-line carry and a third-down target. The Chiefs are finally going to your guy!)

Scott Spratt: Meanwhile the fourth-and-7 field goal try from the 49ers' 13-yard line was also the correct call for Reid, improving the Chiefs' GWC marginally from 64.9% on a pass to 65.4%.

(Vince, it's probably a bit too late for me to celebrate my 2019 fantasy season call of Darwin Thompson's breakout. That said, I'm pretty sure you are the one who ended up drafting him in our office league...)

Vincent Verhei: And San Francisco answers with an easy-peasy drive where everything they call works. They picked up first downs on six straight plays, the last of those a completion to Kyle Juszczyk in traffic, where he breaks a tackle and goes into the end zone. Insert Garoppolo's stats on drives following interceptions here.

Rivers McCown: Troy Aikman went from "this team can't run" to "you see this team win with the run game time and time again" in the span of about four plays.

Bryan Knowles: Deebo Samuel is having a hell of a game -- 39 yards rushing, 23 yards receiving, and some pretty nice blocks, too.

That last drive was just big run after big run (assuming we count Jimmy G's tap pass to Deebo as a run, which it was), and then two passes over the top once Kansas City moved nine to the line of scrimmage. It's basic football, but it works.

10-10.

Carl Yedor: I can see Shanahan going back to whoever-Daniel Sorensen-is-guarding in coverage later in the game.

Dave Bernreuther: Not going to lie, I appreciated the post-San Francisco score outro music being Bertha by the Grateful Dead. It's fun that Fox lets their producers get creative with the musical interludes. Seems like they always find a good variety of topical or geographically accurate music.

Aaron Schatz: NBC may be even better with that than Fox is.

Vincent Verhei: A failed end-around on second down sets up a third-and-forever, so Kansas City runs a give-up screen on third-and-long. And San Francisco ... doesn't call timeout? With three of them in hand? So Kansas City doesn't punt the ball before they have to, and precious time ticks off. Punt goes into the end zone, and 49ers are going to have 59 seconds to go 80 yards. Had they called a timeout, they'd have over 90 seconds. I'm baffled.

Aaron Schatz: Chiefs offense has been a little subdued. They're not testing the 49ers downfield much, and running a double screen on third-and-14 instead of letting Mahomes sling it downfield seems like a mistake.

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers not calling a timeout after the failed third-down play ALSO feels like a mistake, though maybe they just want to make sure the Chiefs don't touch the ball again.

Still, at least they get a fourth drive in the first half -- this has been a VERY fast two quarters.

Carl Yedor: But San Francisco then meets that mistake with a potentially big one of their own by letting the clock run down after the third down instead of using one of their timeouts. They get a little fortunate that the ball goes into the end zone, but that decision could cost them a chance to score before half.

Aaron Schatz: San Francisco really turtling on offense. Not just by not calling a timeout, but running twice instead of trying to move the ball downfield in the final minute.

Scott Spratt: Do you guys think the 49ers' decision to not take a timeout there reflects their opinion about Garoppolo at this point? With their run-focused approach, they might need more than even 90 seconds to put together a field goal drive. Why not minimize the risk of Mahomes getting another shot, then?

Rivers McCown: Imagine wanting to score when you get the ball with three timeouts and roughly a minute left.

Bryan Knowles: I mean, the 49ers probably have a higher-than-average chance of breaking a run deep, but yeah -- this is an extraordinarily conservative decision from Shanahan. I assume the fact that the 49ers get the ball back after the half is playing into this, but man, that is some wimpy play calling. Shanahan has had problems being overly conservative all season long, but this almost feels more like performance art than anything else. Paying tribute to Andy Reid's history of time management, or something.

Vincent Verhei: Well that was a bizarre final minute where neither team could decide whether they wanted to use their timeouts or not, and San Francisco's biggest completion was wiped out by an OPI and they end up taking a knee near midfield with two timeouts in their pocket. Neither team had any idea what in the hell they were trying to do there. But it's a bigger wasted opportunity for San Francisco. Use your timeouts right, and you're at midfield with, what, 30 seconds to go? Easy time to get a go-ahead field goal.

All that said, the score is tied and they're about to get the ball. Life could be worse.

San Francisco's wide receivers have two carries for 39 yards; Kansas City's have one carry for a 6-yard loss. Honestly, that could end up being the difference in the game.

Aaron Schatz: At halftime, I feel like maybe the Chiefs are afraid of that 49ers pass rush because there are a lot of screens and not a lot of letting Mahomes sit in his pocket and find his guy. Also, that OPI call on George Kittle that finished the first half looked pretty phantom on replay.

Aaron Schatz: OK, I take that back. On closer look, there is full arm extension.

Bryan Knowles: Well, that was 28 minutes of really fun, exciting football, and then we will all agree to pretend the last two minutes didn't happen, for either team, right?

Shanahan butchered the clock; Reid took the ball out of his best player's hands with screens and end arounds. Where's John Harbaugh when you need him?

Still. 10-10, in what has been a really exciting game, and I'm far too nervous to provide much more trenchant analysis at this point in time.

Tom Gower: It was weird that both coaches decided to revert to type in the final two minutes, with Andy Reid getting way too creative and Kyle Shanahan managing the game like he didn't trust his quarterback or offense at all, but there we go.

Bryan Knowles: Add another conservative play call from Shanahan, kicking a field goal on fourth-and-2. It gives the 49ers the lead again, yes, but man, the Chiefs have just been picking up fourth downs left and right.

Aaron Schatz: Overall, the 49ers have been much better tonight. Almost 3 yards per play more. Kansas City has kept it close with the pick and the fourth-down pick-ups.

Scott Spratt: That was a 2.9% GWC mistake for Shanahan versus a rushing attempt.

Vincent Verhei:Field position also benefiting Kansas City so far. 49ers haven't started a drive outside their own 25 yet. All of Kansas City's have started at the 25 or better. But now, after a penalty, Kansas City begins at their own 9.

Aaron Schatz: They're rolling Mahomes out to the right a lot to get him away from Nick Bosa. One time they don't, Bosa gets the strip-sack but the Chiefs recover. Then Mahomes throws the interception on third down.

Bryan Knowles: And the field position flips back to the 49ers!

On second down, Nick Bosa swats the ball out of Patrick Mahomes' hands, but it bounces right back to him. Bullet dodged, Mahomes then tries to covert the ensuing third-and-long, but rifles it right to Fred Warner!

Bryan Knowles: Worth noting: Joe Staley is in the locker room with some kind of hand injury. Skule is in now; he had plenty of action when Staley was out earlier in the year.

Scott Spratt: It's a criticism for awareness rather than decision-making, but I think that Mahomes interception was worse than Garoppolo's from the first half. Fred Warner was standing there waiting for a throw.

Vincent Verhei: Chiefs have done a good job of moving Mahomes around to negate the San Francisco pass rush. But Nick Bosa comes up the middle for a sack on second down. (Mahomes fumbled and recovered.) On third-and-long, Mahomes rolled out right and had all day, but forced a pass to Tyreek Hill, who was in no way open, and Fred Warner gets the interception.

This game will be hyped as Mahomes vs. Garoppolo, but it's Warner & Greenlaw vs. the KC linebackers where this game is being won so far.

Bryan Knowles: Dots on the interception -- Mahomes is rolling away from a double-teamed Bosa, and I guess just never sees Warner lurking in the zone.

Bryan Knowles: And the 49ers make the Chiefs pay for the interception, thanks to (shock) some nice passing from Garoppolo -- 16 yards to Deebo, a missed hold to Sanders, 26 to Kendrick Bourne, 10 more to Juszcyzk to the one. Mostert plows it in, and it's a 20-10 San Francisco lead late in the third.

Scott Spratt: I'm happy for Mostert, but it would have been amazing if Juszczyk had scored again. A fullback Super Bowl MVP would be hilarious.

Aaron Schatz: I thought the Chiefs were doing a reasonable job of blocking the 49ers pass rush in the first half, but it's dissolving.

Dave Bernreuther: The outtro music this time was Phish's Free, so now I'm thinking that the producer is just into jam bands rather than making clever geographical connections.

Vincent Verhei: Weird play where it looks like Travis Kelce has an easy first down, but he throws on the breaks to make a move and then gets tackled short of the line to gain. No matter -- Kelce takes the ball on a direct snap and the Chiefs pick up yet another first down on an option play. Fourth quarter ends with 49ers up 20-10, but Kansas City has a first down at their own 46.

Aaron Schatz: Nick Bosa:

Rivers McCown: San Francisco's pass rush has really come alive in the second half, yeah.

Aaron Schatz: Uh-oh. Mahomes just threw behind Tyreek Hill and it was tipped and caught by Tarvarius Moore of the 49ers. I think this is Mahomes' first game all year with two picks.

Vincent Verhei: Indeed -- Mahomes' last two-interception game was the shootout with the Rams on Monday night last season.

Scott Spratt: That second Mahomes interception was just way too far behind Tyreek Hill. It feels like the pressure is affecting his accuracy in general, not just on the pressure plays.

Bryan Knowles: ANOTHER Mahomes interception kills a drive. And it's another poor throw; I'm not sure I've seen Mahomes make as many off-target throws as he has today. The ball was behind Hill, bounced in the air, and Tarvarius Moore was able to come down with it. HUGE play, as the Chiefs looked sure to at least cut it to a one-score game there.

Scott Spratt: They didn't show a replay, but I thought the Chiefs were offsides and hit Garoppolo late out of bounds on that third down. No flag for either. Anyone else see those?

Bryan Knowles: The Chiefs' defense rallied here, and for the first time tonight, the 49ers are forced to punt. A long touchdown drive there could have iced it.

Scott: I don't think the hit on Garoppolo was late; I think the shot happened as he was GOING out of bounds, but while he was still in the field of play. They may have gotten a bit of a jump.

Tom Gower: The hit sure looked inbounds to me. Not sure about offside.

I'll second Aaron's comment about the effect of the San Francisco pass rush. On the drive that ended with the interception off of Hill's hands, you could see from the dots a couple of potential deeper plays that Mahomes couldn't even try to attempt because of the pass rush.

Having a pass rush seems like a super-awesome thing, I wonder what it feels like as a fan.

Bryan Knowles: Gotta tell you Tom; it feels good.

Carl Yedor: Agree on the Garoppolo hit. It looked bad because of how he fell (and it was right on the San Francisco sideline), but it definitely looked legal to me.

Bryan Knowles: At first, I thought Shanahan threw the challenge flag just to give his defense a chance to catch their breath, but no, the ball bounced short on that second-and-15 completion to Hill. But no, it's a trap. Good time for the red flag...

... but then Mahomes hits Hill on the deep shot the 49ers have been fearing all night. Right on time.

Bryan Knowles: That throw to Hill was astonishing; 50 yards through the air off his back foot. Mahomes throws a couple of incomplete passes after that, but a clear and obvious interference call brings the ball to the 1, and it's an easy pitch-and-catch for the score. 20-17 49ers with 6:13 left.

Aaron Schatz: DPI on Kelce, then 1-yard touchdown throw to Kelce. 20-17.

I don't think I trust the Chiefs defense to contain the San Francisco offense on this next drive, though, and get Mahomes the ball back.

Vincent Verhei: On the one hand, the Chiefs can still win if they hold the 49ers to a field goal on this drive.

On the other hand, the 49ers can win without scoring at all if they can just hold the ball for six minutes. Which is a lot, but not impossible.

Vincent Verhei: Or not. A quick three-and-out, with incomplete passes on second (Chris Jones tips a pass at the line) and third down (a throw wide of everyone as Garoppolo hits the dirt under a six-man rush).

Scott Spratt: I'm stunned the 49ers threw passes on second-and-5 and third-and-5.

Aaron Schatz: And I was wrong about not trusting the Kansas City defense.

Aaron Schatz: I was just thinking "how often is Mahomes looking over to Richard Sherman's side?" and then Mahomes hits Sammy Watkins over Sherman for 38 yards.

Vincent Verhei: And then the Chiefs score too quickly! They get the touchdown for the 24-20 lead, but the 49ers have 2:44 to answer. They may even be able to get the ball twice if they're really quick about things.

It goes without saying but it's just massive that Kansas City got seven points and the lead there and not three points and a tie. Make the 49ers beat you with a touchdown, not a field goal.

And the kickoff return is tackled inside the 25 again. Outstanding work by Kansas City's kicking game tonight.

Bryan Knowles: How does Fox not have a camera right down the goal line in the freaking Super Bowl?

Bryan Knowles: Not a very exciting game. Just, you know, the two-minute warning with the 49ers needing to drive 65 more yards to win the Super Bowl. Nothing major. I'm totally fine over here.

Rivers McCown: Watching Aikman soft-peddle the idea that Jimmy G is playing well while every remotely difficult throw he has is incomplete has been hilarious.

How many times does a team start it's two-minute offense with two runs?

Aaron Schatz: Holy mackerel, Jimmy G just had Emmanuel Sanders with three different Chiefs defenders beat deep ... and overthrew him.

Aaron Schatz: Then the Chiefs send a big blitz on fourth-and-10 and sack Jimmy G in the grasp. That's ballgame.

I'm sorry, Bryan.

Bryan Knowles: Three timeouts left...

Vincent Verhei: Kind of a horsecrap in-the-grasp call there, considering he got the ball off, but then the pass was incomplete anyway. And we're in desperation territory for San Francisco.

Bryan Knowles: OK, NOW that's game, as Damien Williams runs the 38-yard touchdown in. Still 1:18 left to play, but no, Chiefs win.

I am very, very happy Andy Reid finally got a ring. He deserves every bit of this; he has never gotten the recognition he deserves because his Eagles teams never got over the top. I can't think of a coach I'm happier to see finally win the big one.

OK, I can think of ~one~ coach I'd rather see, but still...

Scott Spratt: So is Mahomes the MVP? I don't feel like he played great, but I'd be surprised if Damien Williams got it too...

Vincent Verhei: I was screaming at Damien Williams to go down instead of scoring on that long touchdown run. Am I alone?

Bryan Knowles: I'd give it to Williams, but it'd be hard to convince people not to vote for Mahomes.

Rivers McCown: Kyle Shanahan has now blown 28-3 and 20-10 Super Bowl leads.

Tom Gower:You were definitely not alone in screaming at Williams to just go down.

Vincent Verhei:It should be Williams. 133 yards from scrimmage and two scores, 6.1 yards per carry.

Garoppolo's desperation heave is intercepted, and that's game. Man, his fourth-quarter numbers are gonna be fuuuuuuuugly.

Aaron Schatz: How much do we blame Shanahan for this blown lead? Yes, he had the offense pass the ball twice instead of trying to run out the clock on second and third down when the 49ers still led 20-17, but there were over five minutes left at that point. If the 49ers run twice there, but also still punt on fourth down like they did after two incomplete passes, there's really no difference in the end of this game, Chiefs still win.

Scott Spratt: Not to be all meta-analytics, but I feel like the majority of Williams' success was a product of a 49ers defense that was desperate to stop Mahomes.

Bryan Knowles: I think it's fair to blame Shanahan for his play calling at the end of the FIRST half, but no, I can't find it in me to be TOO harsh on his fourth quarter play calling.

Vincent Verhei: Definitely blame Garoppolo more than Shanahan. The coach gave his quarterback a chance to win, and the quarterback responded by throwing into the line repeatedly, throwing wide under pressure, overthrowing a wide-open go-ahead score, and taking a fourth-down sack.

Andrew Potter: The fourth-and-2 field goal was overly conservative. The end of the first half was extremely conservative. They lost by 11, and they eschewed shots at a significant number of those points by their conservatism. Sure, they couldn't have known that the fourth quarter would go the way it did, but that's why you don't cede good opportunities for points earlier in the game.

Aaron Schatz: I agree on the end of the first half and the fourth-and-2 field goal. I was talking more about blaming Shanahan for blowing the lead, i.e. "between this and 28-3, it's obvious Kyle Shanahan blows leads."

Bryan Knowles: Oh, that will never go away unless Shanahan wins a Super Bowl. But both of them put too much blame on Shanahan; his hands aren't clean, per se, but a little better execution and Shanahan has two Super Bowl rings at the moment.

If wishes were horses and all that.

Tom Gower: My pregame thing to watch was "Jimmy G deep shots vs. brainfart turnovers." The 49ers' longest play was 32 yards, a Deebo Samuel rush. Their longest pass play was a 26-yard completion to Kendrick Bourne, which was listed was "short" in the play-by-play, meaning it wasn't thrown more than 15 yards downfield. He missed the deep shot to Sanders that would have given them the lead late. Even if you don't count the second intercetpion in a desperation situation as a brainfart turnover, he comes out -1 on that ledger.

But he was also -1 on that ledger at halftime when it was a tie game, and -1 when the 49ers were up 20-10 and looked like they might be in control of the game, so that's clearly not the whole story. Yes, the deep miss came later, but there's more to the story than that. To me, the biggest play was the third-and-15 that Mahomes converted with the deep shot to Tyreek Hill. But that neglects what may have been the larger story, the Chiefs' fourth-quarter adjustment. Aaron and I noted after Mahomes' fourth-quarter interception just how much the San Francisco pass rush was affecting what Kansas City was trying to do on offense. The last couple of possessions, not so much. They got the ball out quickly, even when it meant trying something aggressive (like the deep shot to Watkins). When we rewatch the game later (not this coming week for me), that's really the thing to keep an eye on, just what Kansas City did vs. what they weren't doing earlier.

Bryan Knowles: And, of course, the big thing the 49ers need to think about right now is what to do with Jimmy Garoppolo's contract. They're right up against the salary cap, with Jimmie Ward, Arik Armstead, and Emmanuel Sanders as free agents. They can free up nearly $20 million, however, by extending Garoppolo and turning his base salary into a signing bonus, at the cost of making that money guaranteed. That's a tough call -- I still think Garoppolo is an above-average passer, but I'm not sure he's more than that, and that makes guaranteeing big money iffier than it might otherwise be. Some very interesting decisions to be made in that front office.

Aaron Schatz: The 38-yard Watkins catch was huge. He really abused Sherman on this play.

Bryan Knowles: Mahomes does get the Super Bowl MVP, in case there was any doubt. Before the game, I figured that was a foregone conclusion if the Chiefs managed to win, and while I think the interceptions would bump him off my ballot, it's not like that fourth quarter wasn't deserving.

And yeah, that Watkins catch was play of the game.

Dave Bernreuther: I guess it's hard to quibble too much with the Mahomes MVP; he stepped it up when things got most difficult. They were down by two scores late and Bosa and the San Francisco D Line were starting to really dominate just about every play. Also, a big chunk of Williams' stats and one score came when the game was really pretty much decided.

His performance late, especially when compared to Garoppolo's, really was the difference in the game. It can be lazy to boil everything down to QB play, but the fact of the matter is that Mahomes was great in the fourth and Garoppolo couldn't be counted on. If they'd had just slightly better QB play late, the 49ers probably win the game. I agree with the other comments about the questionable passing calls, given the relative strengths of Jimmy and their run game (although surely the defensive alignment and personnel had something to do with that too), but I really can't fault Shanahan at all for that blown lead. They were doing everything well, and even the pass game was working well despite Garoppolo's issues. Kansas City just gave a great effort in the end... right as I was actually about to throw in the towel, because I really did think that even after the Kelce score there was a chance that they wouldn't see the ball again. 

Kyle Shanahan really impressed me this year. I will admit that I didn't think much of that tandem hire of him and Lynch, but to build a #1 seeded team where the weak point is the well-paid quarterback, while being reasonably well set up for future years as well... that's solid work. And for all the (legit) criticism we have heaped on Garoppolo, it's still worth pointing out that that game was only his 29th game started. That's the same number of starts as Baker Mayfield. It's still entirely possible that by this time next year he'll have evolved into something more than a passer that only succeeds when his coach schemes up an easy read to an open guy in between dominant running plays. And if he is, look out. That division could be really tough, of course, but that team isn't going away. They'll be back on this stage.

I'm very, very happy for Andy Reid. And Chiefs fans in general. KC might be the only market in the NFL from which I've not met even one single unlikable fan. Congratulations to all those who have waited multiple generations to cheer a title.

Comments

183 comments, Last at 07 Feb 2020, 11:53am

1 Just a great game

It wasn't the most exciting game. It wasn't as high-scoring as I imagined.

But in the whole I think this is one of the most evenly played, well played, Super Bowls I've seen in a while.

Every unit played reasonably well. The 49ers offense had their moments, including a drive with six straight first downs on six plays. The 49ers defense sacked Mahomes four times, picked him off twice.

The Chiefs offense had that incredible ending. Mahomes had a few ridiculous plays. Williams, Hill, Watkins, Kelce were all great at various points. Their defense ratcheted up the pressure late, Chris Jones was a monster.

No unit played badly. No unit played great. That, to me, is the definition of an evenly played game.

4 I

I agree, and I love that the first comment on this thread is generous and even handed, when elsewhere Shanahan and Garoppolo are coming in for a spot of stick, internet style.

I wonder though if the stats will show the game was less even than it felt. SF outgained the Chiefs easily on a per play basis and KC had some juicy fumble luck. In the end it may have been one of those games — we’ve seen a few this year — where the less efficient team won because it ran lots more plays than the more efficient opponent.

7 Obviously DVOA will shed…

In reply to by ammek

Obviously DVOA will shed light on the efficiency, and, yes, I do suspect it will be lukewarm on the Chiefs  given the turnovers and further fumbles. But they did only punt twice - once on their very first possession - so it is certainly not true that they struggled overall. (I would also expect that DVOA ignores their final possession where Mahomes was running around wasting time, as it would with more traditional kneel-downs?).

My impression in the immediate aftermath is that the game played out very much like many of the pre-game predictions, with the 49ers appearing like the better overall team, but the Chiefs prevailing because pass offence is master. Ultimately, scoring 20 was never likely to be enough for SF, which makes Shanahan’s extremely conservative game management decisions all the more frustrating. 

 

18 KC had a couple of sideline…

In reply to by ammek

KC had a couple of sideline fumbles that almost always go out of bounds. Not sure how DVOA will score those.

But SF got super-lucky on that fumbled punt. That hit the ground and a defender actually pushed it back into the returner's hands. That would have been KC's ball at the SF 10.

Garop ended poorly, but he also started something like 18-21 for 190 and a TD. He's got Cousins-ish limitations, but so does Brady. But unlike Minnesota and like NE (and NO), he plays with a great O-line, so that weakness isn't super apparent.

25 Eh, Brady has limitations,…

Eh, Brady has limitations, but they're very, very different from the "if my programmed first read isn't wide open and the pocket clean, we're probably screwed" style of limitations you see with these guys. He can still get the ball out to his fourth option faster than either of them can to their second. 

38 Cousins isn't limited to his…

Cousins isn't limited to his first read at all. If the protection really sucks, he won't get to the fourth as quickly as Brady, and he can't turn nothing into something with his legs, but he's made plenty of difficult throws to a non primary receiver from the pocket, while under pressure. 

42 I just mean that Brady is…

I just mean that Brady is reliant upon solid line play. He tends to lose his mind and thus his focus if he's given only average line play. I think he'd murder people if you stuck him on the Vikings or Lions.

54 A number of posters who…

A number of posters who watch the Pats like Hoodie Sleeves have commented that Brady stared down Edelman constantly during the second half of the year while other receivers were open.  Brady also had the longest time to throw of any starting quarterback in the NFL.  I can't back up the first statement since I don't have access to All-22 tape and don't watch the Pats that closely, but I just wanted to point out that a number of commenters disagree with you about Brady's current limitations.

32  Cousins is significantly…

 Cousins is significantly better Jimmmy G at this point. He very likely makes the correct read and throws to Kittle on the huge 3rd down play, and throws a much better pass to Sanders on the deep ball. Cousins will make good deep throws from the pocket while under pressure, it's when the protection is essentially nonexistent, and he has to improvise with his legs from nearly the snap that he really degrades. He'd do better with the Niners than Jimmy G does.

69 One of Cousins' bigger flaws…

One of Cousins' bigger flaws is probably that he comes off his reads early and checks it down too often. It's not that he isn't capable of throwing deep under pressure, because he can and does, but he'll revert back to this tendency, especially when he's been under fire a lot.

I think one of the reasons he might be better off play action (especially going deep) is not just because the pass rush slows down or an extra blocker stays in, but because it the play designs will sometimes explicitly call for him to wait to allow the route to develop.

Anyway, this all stands in contrast to Garoppolo where he just frequently enough doesn't appear to know what he's looking at.

98 Nor has he had the game…

Nor has he had the game playing time to develop that skill. 

I'd guess that understanding what the defense is doing when they're purposefully trying to confuse a QB is one of the hardest things to properly practise, and takes actual game experience to develop.  Garoppolo's had relatively little playing time for his age.

Maybe he never gets there, but the biggest difference between Garoppolo and Cousins to me is that Cousins is likely to be at his peak effectiveness, whereas Garoppolo could show improvement next year.

111 You're right, Garoppolo…

You're right, Garoppolo still hasn't started two regular seasons' worth of games yet, even including this postseason. I don't know how he didn't throw to Kittle on that 3rd and 5 - he's their best receiver, he was almost certainly the play's primary read, his route broke right past the sticks and he was wide open for a huge catch and run... but I suppose confidence and decisiveness are things that come with experience too.

119 The third year is probably…

The third year is probably make or break for guys like Garoppolo and Mayfield (in terms of games started, not seasons played), so I think we'll find out relatively soon what the deal is with them.

154 "You're right, Garoppolo…

"You're right, Garoppolo still hasn't started two regular seasons' worth of games yet"

 

Why does Garoppolo always get this excuse? Mahomes has only 7 more starts including playoffs

165 It really doesn't

Wilson became a great player.

He was basically Garoppolo on their Super Bowl winning team.

In fact, their DYAR and DVOA is quite similar (Wilson '13 and Garoppolo '19)

 

181 lmao what an ignorant thing to say

Wilson plays in a run first, very conservative offense with absolutely no pass pro.

Sunday, at the bar I was at, people were commenting on Mahomes looking rattled, making bad decisions (such as throwing the ball away when he had a guy wide open on the 4 yard line) as "Wilson wouldn't have made that mistake" or "Wilson would have still made that throw."

You're the one on drugs dude.

 

Mahomes had a shit game Sunday and Chiefs won because Jimmy G couldn't get it done.  Much to my happiness, but let's call it like it is. 

183 "Wilson wouldn't have made…

"Wilson wouldn't have made that mistake" or "Wilson would have still made that throw." 

 

This is your rebuttal??? Some people at a bar making inane(also factually untrue) comments? We seem to be right back to the land of clutchness. How any fan of Wilson can continue to make this claim after he threw the worst INT in NFL history is beyond me. Some kind of collective amnesia I suppose.

"Mahomes had a shit game Sunday and Chiefs won because Jimmy G couldn't get it done.  Much to my happiness, but let's call it like it is. "

 

Its fascinating that people reading FO still post stuff like this. Yep, let's boil the entire game down to QB A's clutchness and QB's chokingess. Or, if we don't like the narrative being spun for either qb, its QB B out choked QB A. 

 

To address your one sane point:

I maintain, Wilson has never operated the kind of pass first offense like Mahomes has ushered. Whether he could if his offense was less conservative or the pass pro was better is entirely speculative at this point. We could also make this argument for Stafford who has been given a neck weight of an organization, but no one does. 

23 Evenhanded because I had no rooting interest

In reply to by ammek

Interesting for you to note it was even-handed, because for the first time in nearly a decade, I had no strong rooting interest in the Super Bowl.

Since 2011 (NE/NYG II) I was either rooting for my favorite player (Peyton) against my largest enemy (Brady/Pats) or rooting for my favorite defensive player (Ed Reed).

It was so nice to not truly care about a result. 

That said, was pulling for Andy Reid. Seeing him win and the plaudits immediately start from every direction was great, and so well earned, but it did make me a bit mad the world still has to wait for him to win a Super Bowl to realize he's been an unbelievable coach for literally decades now.

19 Agree completely. It was a…

In reply to by dmstorm22

Agree completely. It was a competitive and exciting Super Bowl. Congratulations to the Chiefs, and especially to Andy Reid.

The refs deserve a shoutout too. Game was fast, reviews were efficient, the couple shoving matches I saw were quickly broken up, the called penalties were clear, and I didn't notice any obvious blown calls.

21 There were.Reid has clearly…

There were.

Reid has clearly learned from his failures. KC didn't suffer any egregious time-based blunders and he learned from his previous SB game against Belichick that the refs will let most things go. KC accordingly played a grabby style on both offense and defense, daring the refs to call borderline holds -- which they did not. KC mugged until the refs made them stop and they never made them stop. +1 Andy.

33 Borderline holds don't…

Borderline holds don't strike me as blown calls. I feel they're like umpires' strike zones used to be--there's variation but as long as they're called consistently for both teams it's fair. If SF's offense never adjusted and tried the same borderline behavior, that's on their coaching.

If as Will says below it was due to scouting taking advantage of viewing angles, that's impressive.

34 It's amazing how those time…

It's amazing how those time-based blunders disappear when you get a Hall of Fame-level quarterback. It's almost like the previous quarterbacks Reid had only looked so good because he was coaching them. Who knew?

64 He still had moments of…

He still had moments of mismanagement. And if it takes a Hall of Fame quarterback to correct your time management decisions, that's still a fault you have. 

It's like saying it takes a Ferrari for you to drive the speed limit.

71 "And if it takes a Hall of…

"And if it takes a Hall of Fame quarterback to correct your time management decisions, that's still a fault you have. "

I think you're mistaking cause and effect here. Go and find a coach with a non-Hall of Fame QB who regularly succeeds in 2-minute drills and compressed time situations. The best example of that is probably Matthew Stafford, who has the misfortune of playing for the Lions.

113 Go take a look at…

Go take a look at Aggressiveness Index in 2019. Harbaugh's 2019 is wacko high, right? And in 2018 it was similarly high (again, with Jackson).

Except in 2017 it was 0.91. In 2014 it was 1.37.  It's almost like as soon as Harbaugh got a Hall of Fame QB his risk/reward calculation changed dramatically.

I don't agree that Rivera is actually that aggressive. I actually think that's just perception because he was so ridiculously conservative early on.

115 I'm not saying they're not…

I'm not saying they're not correlated. But I doubt it's a simple cause-and-effect relationship that you're painting. And besides going for it on 4th and one doesn't require a Hall of Fame quarterback necessarily.

122 It's a risk/reward…

It's a risk/reward calculation. If you don't trust your quarterback to understand a complicated situation completely, putting them out there in a high-leverage, disadvantageous situation doesn't make sense. You're betting with a bad hand.

One analyst I listen to described quarterbacks as being either "cooks" or "chefs." As in, they can be a cook, and follow a recipe and if the recipe's good and the ingredients are good and the equipment's good, the result will be good. Or they can be a chef, and they understand the *reasons* behind the recipe, and so they can adapt in bad situations and still create good food.

Reid has a ton of great recipes, and now he's got a great chef too. And a lot of the things he was criticized for before now suddenly changed. Time management? Not a problem! 1:51 left in the first half vs. the Titans. 2 timeouts left. Kansas City marches down the field and scores with nothing left on the clock without even using a timeout. Down 2 scores in the Super Bowl, 9 minutes left. 3 minutes, score. Get the ball back, 3 minutes, score. And now they've got the lead with 2:44 remaining and all 3 timeouts. Aggressiveness? Not a problem! Go for it multiple times on 4th down.

The original post said that Reid "clearly learned from his failures." I don't agree, because I don't think those were failures. I think they were just the lack of having a quarterback like Mahomes.

126 I agree it's unlikely Reid…

I agree it's unlikely Reid learned anything. I disagree that they aren't failures. The analytics if going for it are not contingent on having a Hall of famer. Are you saying if he had Smith at QB, he should have kicked a fg?

134 "The analytics if going for…

"The analytics if going for it are not contingent on having a Hall of famer."

Yes, they are! The analytics completely and totally depend on your likelihood of success, and since you obviously only get one chance, they also depend on how *confident* you are about that chance of success. This is one of the big problems I have with the EdjSports "you gained or lost this much GWC" thing. You don't "gain" anything by choosing to gamble. You're just choosing to take a risk because it looks like a smart risk.

"Are you saying if he had Smith at QB, he should have kicked a fg?"

The first 4th and 1 was brain-dead, but that's something that's taken a while to settle into the NFL mentality. At that point the field goal isn't worth as much since you give field position back to the opponent, too. The second 4th and 1 (from the 19) I likely would've thought more about the field goal with a more typical QB.

Probably would've kicked it given the game situation, since being up 7 starts to influence the other team's decision making noticeably. From +3 to +0 and +0 and -3, teams pass about ~60% of the time, and that's pretty flat with scoring margin. Down 7 teams pass 63% of the time, and it starts rapidly spiraling from there (7-10 it's like 65%, then 10-13 it's like 68%, etc.). Especially with the 49ers getting a lead on them and getting them to start pressing was likely the right choice.

137 "Probably would've kicked it…

"Probably would've kicked it given the game situation, since being up 7 starts to influence the other team's decision making noticeably."

 

Is this statement true even in the very beginning of the game or the first quarter? Also, think about how the game probabilities are calculated. They are taking some kind of average and then coming to the conclusion that its indeed better to go for it than kick or punt. Mahomes is way above average. But the point still stands, even if you have an average qb, you should go for it. Andy Reid nearly sent the field goal group out there anyways. 

 

 

138 "Probably would've kicked it…

"Probably would've kicked it given the game situation, since being up 7 starts to influence the other team's decision making noticeably."

 

Is this statement true even in the very beginning of the game or the first quarter? As far as I am aware, there's been no rigorous study to show how much behavior gets augmented by game circumstances.

 

Also, think about how the game probabilities are calculated. They are taking some kind of average and then coming to the conclusion that its indeed better to go for it than kick or punt. Mahomes is way above average. But the point still stands, even if you have an average qb, you should go for it. Andy Reid nearly sent the field goal group out there anyways. 

 

 

145 It's weaker in the 1st/2nd…

It's weaker in the 1st/2nd quarter, obviously, but still basically the same: Sharp Football's got an online thingy for it.

edit: to give details (pass percentage, 1st/2nd quarter only)

from -3 on up: 58% (select any range within this, so like -3 to 0, 0 to 3, 3 to 7, etc. Maybe weakly increasing above 7)
from -4 to -7: 60%
from -7 to -10: 62%
from -10 to -14: 64%
from -14 on down: 68%

They've got it for the past few seasons and it's basically all the same, so I'm willing to trust that it's basically fundamental (at this point). Like I said above -7 it starts becoming a pretty strong.

"They are taking some kind of average and then coming to the conclusion that its indeed better to go for it than kick or punt."

It's either a model, or them collecting up all of the results and averaging them that way. As in, these teams ran, and they won X% of the time, these teams passed, and they won Y% of the time. Etc. etc. But the results of those actions aren't smooth, they're bimodal. So it's a risk. You have to know what the risks are and what the benefit is.

In Kansas City's case, biasing San Francisco towards passing is a pretty damn big benefit.

"Andy Reid nearly sent the field goal group out there anyways."

That was just gamesmanship, he was going for it the entire time. Just my opinion, though.

146 I find it interesting that…

I find it interesting that the same numbers you are using for behavior changes are also giant aggregates, the same one's used in win probabilities and go for it analytics. Sure, there is a bunch of selection bias plaguing all of this, but the results are so blaring in some of these cases that I'm not sure how much the statistical quibbles will ultimately move the needle.

 

In any case, let's revisit this 4th and 1 or 4th and 2 deep in the opponent's territory. If you don't trust your qb to pick up 2 yards, how the hell are you going to trust him to go 80 yards and score tds? That's my biggest quibble with the take the points crowd. Take the 3 because you won't get the 7. ok, but if your qb is a bad qb, how likely will he get the seven next time? And if mahomes is so awesome, take the 3 since he will get the 7 so easily next time.

 

 

149 It's a difference between…

It's a difference between trusting the aggregate values to be *precise* or using them as *guidelines*. Saying "this is a 1% GWC improvement" is silly. That means you'll gain what, 1 win out of 100 attempts. Big deal. Those specific choices are completely swamped by the outcome of a single play.

It's not exactly rocket science to believe that once a team goes down more than 1 score their playcalling will start to change, and the fact that the aggregate data suggests it's true just reinforces it.

"If you don't trust your qb to pick up 2 yards, how the hell are you going to trust him to go 80 yards and score tds? That's my biggest quibble with the take the points crowd."

Cook versus chef.

4th down's a constrained situation: there's no "neutral" outcome (unless it's a no-brainer, like I said). You can't say "if you're unsure about what to do, do this, that's not such a bad option." So you have to trust the quarterback to deal with whatever happens and you'll be happy with the outcome.

That's way different than if you stay in situations where there *is* a neutral outcome. Then you just take the wins, minimize the losses, and capitalize on the gains when you can.

150 I get that its a binary…

Life everything in life, the relevant question is not, "will it" but "by how much." It seems foolish to suggest going to down 2 scores augments behavior so dramatically if we're in the first quarter. And 10 pts vs 14 points is a big deal. I don't think anyone has quantified the type of behavior changes that shift between those 4 pts, nor what type of pass / run plays are called. 

 

To revisit my original question: Its 4th and 1 or 4th and 2 on the opponents lets say 10 yard line. Under what scenarios is it worth not going for it? 

I get that its a binary outcome with very stark outcomes. It still doesn't change the fact that asking a qb to pick up 2 yards is on net more likely to happen and generate positive outcomes than expecting a qb to drive 80 yards. This statement is true whether you have Patrick Mahomes or Nathan Peterman.  

160 It's not 10 points vs 14…

It's not 10 points vs 14 points. It's 10 points vs. 7 points. Getting 14 points even if you convert that (second) fourth down isn't guaranteed (obviously, they ended up kicking it anyway).

"To revisit my original question: Its 4th and 1 or 4th and 2 on the opponents lets say 10 yard line."

That's easy. You always go for it. Kicking the field goal at the 10 isn't worth as much as kicking the field goal at the ~20, because you're handing 10 yards of field position back to your opponent.

28 Oh man, I noticed this too,…

Oh man, I noticed this too, especially late, and wish I had been less busy so I could've mentioned it. Thanks for pointing it out.

This crew let them play, but did so without letting things get out of hand. Other than the missed offsides (and if you said the TD play was a few inches short, I'd agree and wouldn't have overturned that on review either), the calls they didn't make - I saw Garoppolo take two hits to the head and Mahomes one, and a bit of post-play scuffling in one other case, plus the not-actually-late hit on Garoppolo going out of bounds - were exactly the types of plays that I'd expect to have seen flagged in the regular season and lead to near-universal groaning and complaining (from me as well). The whistle swallowing wasn't anywhere near on the level of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where suddenly all kinds of dirty play ends up uncalled, and I thought it was pretty much perfect. To have flagged any of those other plays would've inserted themselves into the game and possibly affected the results. The game was much, much better off because they didn't. If only all games were called that way.

121 A comment from Mike Pereira…

A comment from Mike Pereira before the game comes to mind. He said the NFL was praying the replay process for pass interference didn't have to come into play with a tough call and blow it. I'm certainly glad it didn't come into play at all, because that whole thing sucks.

2 Ultimately Jimmy Garoppolo’s…

Ultimately Garoppolo’s weaknesses came to the fore, with his terrible early turnover, and inability to make anything happen when off script in the 4th quarter. He’s not a major liability, but will continue to need stuff to go right around him to win a lot of games.

Kyle Shanahan should not be blamed for his 4th quarter play-calling. Even if you do have limited trust in your QB, running the ball on every down in obvious situations is sub-optimal in all but the most extreme matchup scenarios. The 49ers ran the ball well today, but it was nothing like the total domination they experienced over the Packers. 

Saying that, he should absolutely take blame for his game management foul-ups either side of halftime. Virtually surrendering a possession before halftime was inexplicable and awful, given the context. And then kicking a short field goal on 4th & 2 was also bad.

On a positive note, you have to feel delighted for Andy Reid. His legacy is sealed with this victory. 

3 Mahomes to Hill, 3rd and 15

On that play Mahomes backed up around 15 yards to mitigate the pass rush. If Mahomes had any designs on a shorter pass, that would be dumb, since the ball takes longer to get there and may require more of an arc. Actually less important on a longer pass, you just account for it.

So Hill is the only option before the snap is even done. Obviously the Chiefs had seen something on film where they thought the play would work.

79 The way Mahomes bought…

The way Mahomes bought himself time with the deep drop and the heave it took to get the ball that far downfield was awesome. In a game where he had been struggling, very cool to see him break out with a signature throw that not very many other players could make, even given that Hill got wide open.

5 I swear somebody once said…

I swear somebody once said 4th quarter pass rush was important; seems like it swung the outcome today (for both teams, really)

6 SF blitz

Felt like the Niners got burned every time they sent a fifth man, and it didn’t seem like they needed to. I wonder what Mahomes’ stats look like vs four-man rush and vs 5 or more

8 When scoge was 20-10, texted…

When scoge was 20-10, texted friend that alll it wil take is two big pass plays. Ig happened- one to hill, one to Watkins. Chiegs offensice line porous excdpt for Schwartz who was okay. If Mahomes would get help flr just two plays amd/or evade pass rush it would be enough. As soon as Chiegs scordd to makd it 20-17, immediately thoiggt and texted they will probably score two more times.

9 MvP

Between game end and award annoicned. Thought it would be Mahomes or C. Jones. Jones did not have interception kr sack, so deflected passes and presssure probably nto eniugh to sway voters. So, then Mahomes it woudl be. Remind of line late in Super Boel 14 highlight film when Facenda made comments about great teams. So chagnging it a bit can say great quarterbacks aren't always great. They are great wwhen they have to be. Mahomes made the plays atend when it counted most. I understand thinking behind wan ti ng D. Williams to get MVP award. I didn't see it that way. Qas not oarticipating in game discusioon thread but read alll comemts this morning. Maby peoplr left Chie fs for dead at 20-10. What did Williams do after that point more rhan Mahomes that was MVP-worthy? Mahomes made key passes. Yes, Williams scored 2 toucjdowns btu one was tack-on that Football Outsiders dotn eveb think waa a good touchdown

10 The Chiefs offensive line…

The Chiefs offensive line got away with a ton of obvious holding, but it was a very particular type. Mahomes was able to escape containment several times when a Chiefs offensive lineman would only initiate the hold once the pass rusher tried to step towards the sideline. On the standard t.v. shot it was pretty obvious, but I wonder if it was harder to spot at field level, and I also suspect that this was a deliberate strategy that also entailed scouting the officiating crew. If so, kudos to Reid for being extremely well prepared.

45 Yeah, it wasn't just one K.C…

Yeah, it wasn't just one K.C. blocker doing it, and the timing of the grabs was very, very, consistent; as soon as the rusher took a step toward the sideline, he'd get his arm or jersey grabbed, giving Mahomes uncontested access to the edge. From the standard camera angle, you'd see the rusher struggling to seperate from the blocker, being held back by an arm or shoulder pad, but it was never called. I really suspect the officiating crew was successfully scouted by Reid.

88 I think it helps a lot to…

I think it helps a lot to have two weeks. We on the outside tend to underestimate the tyranny of the 6 day calendar in getting ready for the typical NFL game, especially with the CBA work restrictions.

100 NFL teams have a big enough…

NFL teams have a big enough budget they could easily hire a staff member whose only job is to scout the officials.  The challenge during the regular season would be to find time during the weekly practises to then prep the players on what to expect.

106 Teams absolutely do this (I…

Teams absolutely do this (I can recall both of the Packers most recent coaches occasionally referencing the next game's officiating crew when I've heard/seen snippets of their weekly press conferences), but that's exactly right - figuring out what types of adjustments you can make within the time constraints you have to prepare for the game.

Hmm, I seem to recall something about Andy Reid having pretty good record coming off of bye weeks...

168 This is the corollary to the…

This is the corollary to the Bill Simmons (and probably others’) idea to pay some Madden-playing teenager to handle all time management decisions. This probably came up in the Andy Reid context as well. Of course there are tactical decisions and strategic decisions, but would probably be nice to at least hear from the “expert” before finally deciding.

Some of the time management stuff has gotten better but some of this “30 seconds left in the half and I’m not going to use my second time out” business is infuriating. See NO vs. MIN.

11 The Niners defense executed…

The Niners defense executed their plan extremely well until the 44 yard pass. They played to the whistle, hit Mahomes hard whenever they had opportunity within the rules, and thus degraded his performance. And on the 44 yard pass, Bosa almost got there. Mahomes is Mahomes, though, and holding him to 17 points is an incredibly hard ask. Ultimately, the Niners offense needed to function better, and that was mostly on Garappolo playing a little better, and Shanahan being more aggressive

13 The Niners Melted Down

Here's plays and yards after Mahomes' 2nd INT:

SF: 39 plays, 287 yards
KC: 53 plays, 237 yards

Here's after:

SF:17 plays, 49 yards
KC: 23 plays, 175 yards

Yes, that includes the last kneeldown drive. And I added in my head, so maybe I made a mistake here and there.

But the SF offense, who were moving the ball at 7 yards a clip, leading 20-10 with the ball, suddenly are at less than 3 yards a clip. They had a couple of good plays there and many, many bad ones.

And on defense, where the D had come up with turnovers, and maybe not gotten off the field in 3 and out but forced KC to use lots of plays to do what they do, is getting beat. Were they tired? I don't know, if they were tired it would have showed up more in the goal line sequences, don't you think? Instead of getting burned on big pass plays and big runs where the other team is trying to run out the clock.

And again, as far as the pass rush not getting there on the 44 yard pass to Hill, Mahomes had backed up 15 yards. It was probably impossible for the pass rush to get there. Completely planned play based on weakness in the 49ers defense.

14 Scott Spratt: It's a…

Scott Spratt: It's a criticism for awareness rather than decision-making, but I think that Mahomes interception was worse than Garoppolo's from the first half. Fred Warner was standing there waiting for a throw.

That's... generous. That wounded duck INT was the sort of braindead panic throw I expect from a Lions QB (non-Highland Park Division).

For better or worse, Tom Brady got his job by non making that exact panic move. Garoppolo really lucked into Breeland not being able to stay in bounds, because that duck had Pick-6 written all over it.

(Although maybe that was the idea. Brady was 2-0 in SBs in which he threw a pick-6.)

35 In the end zone

It wasn't a pick-six, but it occurred in the end zone, so it took points off the board for New England. 

Brady has a surprising number of picks thrown into the offensive end zone - twice in Super Bowls (Lane, and against hte Panthers in SBXXXVIII), plus a few others I can remember (Champ Bailey near pick-six, four I can remember in Title Games - '03, '07, '11, '12).

15 Weird play where it looks…

Weird play where it looks like Travis Kelce has an easy first down, but he throws on the breaks to make a move and then gets tackled short of the line to gain.

Brakes.

Bob Sanders threw on the breaks.

16 Bryan Knowles: How does Fox…

Bryan Knowles: How does Fox not have a camera right down the goal line in the freaking Super Bowl?

They do. It's just that the camera is in the pylon, and the play involved occurred above that camera's view.

17 Vincent Verhei: I was…

Vincent Verhei: I was screaming at Damien Williams to go down instead of scoring on that long touchdown run. Am I alone?

I'm curious what GWC says, but 1:40 left and SF had 2 TOs. If they hold at the goal line (or the Chiefs are dumb enough to throw a incomplete pass, or the Chiefs recreate the Pittsburgh/Indy fumble...) Basically, SF could have held and gotten the ball down 7 with about a minute to go. I'd rather be up 11 with 1:30 to go.

30 Williams

1:15 (but it doesn't really matter as long as it's below 1:35) and two timeouts, one of which SF would have had to use immediately. 

1st down: KC kneels,  SF calls their final timeout.  Let's say 1:10 left.

2nd down, KC kneels.  0:25-0:30 left.

3rd down, KC kneels, clock expires.

37 +1

In reply to by Travis

+1

43 I wonder at this

In reply to by Travis

Even after the TD and after the 49ers had a series, the Chiefs couldn't burn all the clock just by taking knees.  They had to have Mahomes burn clock running around on 3rd down and actually make the long, time-burning pass on 4th.

It wasn't wrong for Williams to take the TD there.  That 49ers team might come back from a 4-point deficit via some turnover or penalties or something, but an 11-point deficit with that little time is just too much.  

49 Burning the clock

Even after the TD and after the 49ers had a series, the Chiefs couldn't burn all the clock just by taking knees.

The 49ers' series after the TD lasted just 15 seconds, 25 seconds fewer than just getting to a new set of downs would have.

132 The only reason to support…

The only reason to support scoring a TD there is that it's fun to score TDs, and it's fun to celebrate them as fans.

It's clearly the wrong decision from a win-probability stand point.  I mean it's as simple as:

Kneels In Bounds: Game over; Chiefs wins (I've never heard of an NFL team botching a kneel down to end the game)

Score the TD: Give the 49ers a chance to score a quick TD, get an onside kick, and score again.

The latter is unlikely, but it does happen -- just ask the 2014 Packers.

139 Rivers in 2010

Only game I remember a kneel-down getting messed up was Phil Rivers in 2010 fumbling a snap on a kneel-down when playing for a field goal to win it 23-20 (it was 20-20 at the time).

KC won in OT.

140 Lol I remember that game and…

In reply to by dmstorm22

Lol I remember that game and that team. Ironically, outside of special teams, it might have been the second best team Philip Rivers has ever been on. 

143 Yes, I remember this game…

In reply to by dmstorm22

Yes, I remember this game too.  That's why I said "to end the game."  The Rivers play was to set up a field goal that could end the game (or not); the kneel down itself technically wouldn't have ended the game.

Admittedly, disingenuous on my part.  But, I think my larger point -- that kneeling is way safer (relatively speaking) than giving the team the ball back up 11 -- is valid.

174 I disagree.  The chances of…

I disagree.  The chances of winning after scoring the TD had to be around 99.9% (maybe higher).  It's impossible to get "way safer" than that.

In any event, I despise kneel downs in general, and I would love to see a rule change, so that if you take a knee inside of the two-minute warning, the clock stops.  In fact, while you're at it, getting tackled behind the LOS (inside two minutes) should also stop the clock.  That way, teams would have to actually gain yards to run out the clock.

178 I wouldn't be in favor of…

I wouldn't be in favor of banning kneel-downs, just because they simply, effectively and safely bring the game to a conclusion. NFL games can drag on long enough anyway. I don't feel like I regularly need to see more of teams with a >99% win chance slamming their running backs into the line. 

179 I suppose it's a matter of…

I suppose it's a matter of taste, but I prefer the way contests end in baseball or tennis, where the winner has to actually accomplish something to seal the victory, as opposed to basketball or football, where simply wasting time is often sufficient.

141 If you're going to cite win…

If you're going to cite win-probability, you really ought to back it up with some numbers; I can construct logical or fanciful scenarios as well as the next guy, but they don't conclusively demonstrate anything.

As I said in an earlier post, asking an athlete who has been trained for years to score touchdowns to suddenly, in the midst of an actual play, with actual tacklers trying to catch him, with an actual game on the line, to suddenly and instantaneously calculate the comparative advantages of failing to score a touchdown (with that oh, so tempting goal line right there in front of him) and to reach the statistically (but in reality, probably almost negligibly so) sound decision to go against everything he has been coached for years is, to me, expecting too much.

I have, in fact, coached, although not football and not professionals.  But I have seen how difficult decision-making under game conditions can be, and how much emotions can affect the ability to carefully analyze every option in painstaking detail in the midst of a challenging game.  Its a lot easier to sit on your couch with your iPad or at your keyboard and declaim than it is to actually perform on one of the biggest stages in sports.  I think there's a little more going on that "it's fun to score TDs." 

147 Kneel to ice the game

I think in this scenario - leading, needing a 1st down to ice the game - is a common enough scenario where any offensive player could be coached into going down.

We've seen players do it enough times.

 

I'm a bit more forgiving to players who don't do it when the game is tied or when they are losing (e.g. Ahmad Bradshaw in Super Bowl XLVI)

148 I agree it's unreasonable to…

I agree it's unreasonable to expect the player to come up with the correct answer in the heat of the moment, when it isn't immediately obvious. But it isn't unreasonable to expect a coach, or some other staff member to come up with the correct answer, especially when it is as simple as 'kneel and win'. Somebody on the Chiefs sideline should have told Williams to slide once he was past the marker. Perhaps they did. 

153 I don't think anyone on the…

I don't think anyone on the Chiefs expected SF to fail to stop an obvious running play quite so spectacularly. 

I think everyone anticipated getting to 3rd and 4th down and seeing whether to go or take the FG.

156 Aaron Schatz tweeted that…

Aaron Schatz tweeted that scoring the TD was the wrong decision by GWC, but only by a tiny margin. That's not "clearly" the right decision. 

I think scoring the TD was the correct decision, because the only time you should eschew a TD is when you're ABSOLUTELY 100% certain it's the right call.

46 I suggest that saying that a…

In reply to by Travis

I suggest that saying that a player with an open field in front of him and an opportunity to secure a lead that would require the opponent to score a touchdown, convert for two points, then kick a field goal just to tie is asking a bit much.

For as long as he has been playing football, Williams has been coached, instructed, and exhorted to get the ball into the end zone--that's kind of the point of offense!  For those of us (and I do mean us, I am certainly in this group) sitting on our couches with no experience playing organized football to suggest that he, in the course of a few seconds, analyze the score differential, calculate the likelihood of his team's chances of victory in competing scenarios, and go against a lifetime of training--all this while being pursued by large athletic men intent on grabbing him and throwing him to the ground--is a little naive.

I'm willing to be instructed by the game-winning chance percentages, but being ahead by 11 with under two minutes left is not exactly a bad situation.  Had Williams gone down on the one yard line, his team still would have had to snap the ball a number of times to burn the rest of the clock.  Mishaps on the center-QB exchange, a lineman flinching and being penalized, handing off to a running back who "never" fumbles, but who then fumbles and only a miracle tackle by the quarterback prevents a defender from recovering it and returning it 99 yards for a touchdown, these are all not likely, but do sometimes happen.  If they happen with a four point lead, it only takes a touchdown to beat you.  If Williams scores the touchdown, it takes two touchdowns to beat you and the touchdown/two point conversion/field goal scenario mentioned above to tie you. 

135 I agree that it shouldn't be…

I agree that it shouldn't be on Williams to do the math in his head -- his coaches should have told him to go down after getting the first-down. Maurice Jones-Drew went down once instead of scoring because his coaches told him to before the play.  This is why teams need a clock-management coach.

Taking three knees never fails (to my knowledge); giving your opponent the ball with 1:40 left up 11 does.  It's rare, but not as rare as never.  

47 Plus - and I'm surprised…

In reply to by Travis

Plus - and I'm surprised Kansas City/Mahomes/Reid aren't getting more credit for this! - at the end of the game they did the one thing that I have *no* idea why more teams don't do. Mahomes didn't immediately kneel, he backed away and forced the defense to actually come to him before he kneeled.

Then, on fourth down, they actually ran a play - a rollout that Mahomes chucked a good distance - to burn off the remaining time.

Going to the Williams play even if they had *more* than 1:35, going down was still the right play because if they had gotten to 3rd down with say, 50-55 seconds remaining, the 49ers defense is basically screwed. They basically have to let the Chiefs score in order to get the ball back, which means it's not too hard for the Chiefs to just burn off the time in the play.

26 Nice game

Even if it missed some (very) late game drama and the SF two-minutes drills were meh.

There was a post on Football Perspective regarding Andy Reid and the HOF candidacy. There would be no doubt about it after yesterday.

Loved the new boxscore graphic, but not sure how it will works during the RS, with the updates from the other games.

29 I hate to say it's all about…

I hate to say it's all about the QBs, but ultimately this game came down to Mahomes outplaying Garappolo in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs hit the two deep shots they needed to get back in the game, and SF missed their open opportunities. They had Kittle open on 3rd and 5 with 5 minutes left, and Sanders was open for a TD on the deep post with 1:40 left. Jimmy G missed them both.

Not that it decided the game, but as an SF fan it felt like just about every 50/50 call went against the Niners. KC's O-line getting away with constant holding and the helmet-to-helmet hit on Garappolo in the fourth quarter were the biggest gripes.

39 helmet to helmet in the grasp

I don't know what the rules would say, but it was clear the helmet blow against Garoppolo came after he was called in the grasp (assuming this is the play you are referring to, and not another one).

It was after or as he got rid of the ball, which was after the whistle. I believe it wouldn't be a penalty then (just as the illegal touch was voided)

44 IDK

You could argue that it came down to the coaches. Andy knew it was his QB that brought him to the Super Bowl and he trusted him right down to the final snap even after an up and down first 3 quarters, and Kyle seemed to forget that his running game is what brought him a ten point lead, and suddenly decided to unleash his QB for three straight ill concieved drives. Garappolo is the goat of the game, but his coaching staff did him no favors. This was a team built to run and they were getting big chunks of yards on the ground. In the end, the 49ners seemed to run into the same team we've seen all play offs. The Chiefs offense just hits a switch and scores in bunches. No lead against them has been safe.

50 this

In reply to by johonny

Kyle seemed to forget that his running game is what brought him a ten point lead, and suddenly decided to unleash his QB for three straight ill concieved drives.

 

The same mistake Harbaugh made vs. Titans (though in that case the Ravens were behind needing to catch up instead of trying to protect a lead.)  The Ravens went 14-2 because of their running game, not their passing game, but facing a large deficit Harbaugh got pass-happy, even though there was plenty of time for their normal offense to function.

Weird that again Shanahan went away from the running game exactly when he should have been using it to burn clock.  His offense was brilliant and unstoppable for the middle 2 quarters, and then he somehow just stopped it.  They were gaining ~8 yards/rush! 

 

 

 

62 I don't understand this…

In reply to by RickD

I don't understand this narrative. The 49ers and Chiefs were tied after halftime, so "brilliant/unstoppable" doesn't make a ton of sense at that point. The 49ers had scored 10 points in 2 quarters.

Out of halftime, their next 2 drives went 9 passes for 10.5 yards/play, and 4 rushes for 4.75 yards/play (plus a 1 yard touchdown run excluded because you obviously can't gain more than 1 yard there), and they scored 10 points in *1* quarter.

What am I missing? Where's the "brilliant/unstoppable" portion of this offense that doesn't involve passing? In the first half when they rushed more and scored exactly the same number of points?

56 Garrapolo was hugely…

In reply to by johonny

Garrapolo was hugely successful on play action, and I think the criticism of Shanahan for calling two passes after a run picked up 5 yards on 1st down is really unwarranted. An NFL qb simply must identify a wide open big tight end beyond the sticks, right in front of the qb. You can't run an NFL offense upon the understanding that your QB will not identify that target.

The conservatism at the end of the half, and settling for the field goal, to get to 20, was not wonderful, but the criticism of the run/pass mix is really too much. Shanahan is almost certainly a top 10 coach.

 

67 This

Bill Barnwell laid this out play by play for the 4th quarter on today’s ESPN site.  I’d rather a team try to pass to earn first downs than run to try to burn clock.  I had no problems as a 49ers fan with that quarter’s play calling except perhaps for the attempted bomb to Sanders.  At third and ten I’d worry about getting a first down.  With two plays to do it and 10 to go, a rush is problematic...it likely leaves a need to execute a pass on fourth down.  I would have preferred two shots at a higher probability pass sufficient to reach 10 yards.  Even then, the Sanders play was well planned and would have hit paydirt had Jimmy G made the throw.

As for the end of the second quarter, there wasn’t a lot of time and the Niners offense is not explosive.  The Chiefs offensive is explosive, and Shanahan took that prospect off the table.

101 I disagree. The 49ers have…

In reply to by Stendhal1

I disagree. The 49ers have plenty of explosive. Samuels is a big play receiver. So is Kittle. Their backs are fast and capable of making big gains.

31 Someone asked in the other…

Someone asked in the other thread whether any team in a SB had thrown late with the lead.

No.

The 4th down arm punt was the first pass in the last 15 seconds of a game in which that team had the lead.
http://pfref.com/tiny/M0Z9Q

The only other two passes in the last 15 seconds by a team that won were by NE, both in tie games. One was a spike.

The only playoff game since 1994 with anything similar was NE vs Tennessee, in 2004.
http://pfref.com/tiny/vH0hy

You get about 1 per year in any context.
http://pfref.com/tiny/jkbOQ

 

48 the Patriots

The Patriots tried to burn all the clock in their game vs. Dallas with a timing pattern out of bounds, but the clock manager stopped the clock when the pass went out of bounds, instead of waiting for it to hit the ground, like they're supposed to.  

The game was played in Foxboro, so the Pats only had their own people to blame there.  

36 Is Shanahan the new Reid? By…

Is Shanahan the new Reid? By this, I mean a really good coach with a few weak spots, who nevertheless becomes a whipping boy for people who think 3 hours on Sunday count more than the other 97 hours head coaches work during the week, plus the offseason?

Shanahan is getting drilled by the press today in the exact same way Reid has been over the years. Yes, there were some questionable in-game decisions (as there always are), but the level of nitpicking I'm seeing today is getting ridiculous.

41 When did Reid get the clock management digs

To be fair, Reid got the label of someone bad with clock management early in his career. It was definitely a thing prior to Super Bowl XXXIX in his 6th year in Philly.

By that point he also had the 'choker' label with the Eagles losing three straight title games, two at home, in years #3-5 of his career.

Does anyone know when the clock management thing first started with him?

53 It was in the Super Bowl…

It was in the Super Bowl. The thing that sealed it was the NFL Films video about that Super Bowl that literally has Belichick and the Patriots flat out saying "what the heck are they doing going so slow?"

In this case I'd also like to point out that Shanahan probably has the same problem Reid did there: he's a great enough coach that he took a quarterback to the Super Bowl that probably didn't belong there, and now we're criticizing him because he didn't have a good enough quarterback. I'm not going to blame Shanahan for calling those passes, especially when the Sanders pass was so obviously a good call. It's easy to say "but the runs were working!," but offense has to stay *ahead* of the defense, so if Shanahan saw that those runs wouldn't work anymore, then shifting the playcalling was the right choice.

59 I wouldn't argue Donovan…

I wouldn't argue Donovan McNabb didn't deserve to make it to the Super Bowl, given that he was 6th in DYAR that year, ahead of Drew Brees and Rothlisberger.  Granted he had 500 something DYAR the years before and after, but a lot of that was his receiver corps.  I wouldn't claim McNabb was worse than Flacco, and he won a Super Bowl.  It's too early on in Jimmy G's career to make a judgement, but he doesn't seem to be down there with Rex Grossman, who posted 44 DYAR the year he went to the Super Bowl.

68 You might not understand the…

You might not understand the point I'm making here. I'm saying if you transplant McNabb to another team, he's not ending up 6th in DYAR. I doubt he would've ended up in the top *half*. We've got plenty of evidence that this is true for other Reid QBs: AJ Feeley (twice!), Jeff Garcia, dear Lord even Koy Detmer looked like a freaking Pro Bowler for a game after McNabb went down in 2003.

Obviously it's a leap of faith to apply that to McNabb, although he was out of the league in the blink of an eye after leaving Philadelphia. But even there, McNabb in 2009 put up ~500 DYAR, 3000+ yards, and 22 TDs/9 INTs before cratering in Washington. Washington thought so highly of McNabb they gave him $40M guaranteed at that point!

Reid will never, ever, ever say a single bad thing about any one of his quarterbacks, but of the 3 main starting quarterbacks he's had (McNabb, Alex Smith, and Mahomes), he'd probably put McNabb last.

77 I'd put McNabb ahead of…

I'd put McNabb ahead of Smith, and I think Smith is a good QB.

McNabb played on good overall teams with good offensive lines, functional running games, and solid defenses.

And Julian Edelman would have been the second best WR he played with in the non-cancer division. McNabb basically had one year of TO, two years of DeSean Jackson, and about 100 player years of Freddie Mitchell.

81 Yea why are we now…

Yea why are we now retroactively denigrating McNabb? Is it just to make Reid look even better? McNabb through the bulk of his career had street free agents for receivers.

91 I'm not denigrating him! I'm…

I'm not denigrating him! I'm saying he looked better than he did because Reid was his coach. What QB *hasn't* that been true for? I mean, at one point I thought his career was on a Hall of Fame arc, and in hindsight that just looks hilarious. The only reason I'm saying he wasn't as good as Smith is because Reid only had Smith late in his career at which point his athleticism was declining.

"McNabb through the bulk of his career had street free agents for receivers."

From 1999-2003. Four years. Out of 11. 2004 he had Owens. 2005 he was injured so that doesn't matter anyway. 2006 he had "decent" receivers (Donte Stallworth/Reggie Brown), 2007 he had Kevin Curtis/Reggie Brown, and 2008 had Jackson arriving.

I'm not saying that 06/07 were stellar receiving corps but they aren't even in the same galaxy as the dreck from 1999-2003. 2004-2007 had peak Brian Westbrook as well.

93 If you are going to claim…

If you are going to claim that Donte Stallworth and Reggie brown along with Curtis and Brown are  a decent receiving core...then no one in GB should ever be complaining about Rodgers' receiver core. Or Tom Brady for that matter. 

And Desean Jackson was a rookie in 2008. I am sorry, this is as pathetic a receiving core over a career that I can remember. Name another qb who was a HOF or a borderline case who played with a worse set of receivers?

102 Philly 2019 and New England…

Philly 2019 and New England 2019 were abysmal receiving corps, on par with the Eagles from 1999-2003. Stallworth/Brown and Curtis/Brown were serviceable, which is far and away better, especially when you couple them with Brian Westbrook.

I've never understood Green Bay complaining so loudly. Green Bay's receiving corps isn't godawful, it's just not good/great.

"Name another qb who was a HOF or a borderline case who played with a worse set of receivers?"

See, this is the problem we're running into. McNabb played with Reid most of his career and then was out of the league extremely quickly after leaving Philly. So you essentially only see his years with Reid. I'm saying that Reid made him look like an extremely good QB, just like he's done with every other QB, and I can point to the fact that he dropped to "non-viable" after leaving as evidence.

 

105 If Tom Brady moves on and is…

Edleman, even in an overtaxed role as the primary receiver, is better than Reggie Brown, Donte Stallworth, and Kevin Curtis. So no, him alone makes the receiving core better than this motley crew. 

 

If Tom Brady moves on and is terrible with his next team(decent chance that happens, especially given his age), are we going to say - "See, Tom Brady outside Belichick is an awful qb. Therefore..." I bet there are a large contingent of people who will.

 

Undoubtedly, Reid makes his qbs look better than they are. But how far are we going to take this point. All the way to McNabb was a mediocre, to spot starter that Reid catapulted to near HOF standards? 

 

But even with all of that said, just watching the two players, its hard to believe you think Alex Smith was comparable. Athletically, McNabb made a lot of plays that Alex Smith would never have made. 

130 That's why I'm saying if you…

That's why I'm saying if you lump Reid's career all together (again excluding 2005 due to WTF), you get:

Utter garbage skill positions: 1999-2003, 2013
Pretty bad skill positions: 2008, 2014
Average-to-good skill positions: 2006-2007
Good-to-great skill positions: 2008-2012, 2015-2016
Great skill positions: 2004, 2017+

Although I actually would say that several of those "good-to-great" seasons could be significantly better than that, just limited by the quarterback. And then if you compare Smith's 5 years to McNabb's 11 it's not really that different. Both had about half of their time with garbage and half of their time with good or better.

107 Not good. Serviceable. In…

Not good. Serviceable. In Smith's first year he had Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, and Dexter McCluster. His leading receiver was a running back. I'd trade that receiving group for Stallworth/Brown/Westbrook or Curtis/Brown/Westbrook in a *moment*.

In 2013 Kansas City's receivers put up 117 DYAR. Kevin Curtis in 2007 put up more than that *alone*.

There are degrees here. Total DYAR by WRs (the main ones):

1999 PHI: -66
2000 PHI: 65
2001 PHI: 67
2002 PHI: 170
2003 PHI: 90
2004 PHI: 435
2005 PHI: (excluded due to brain/core injuries)
2006 PHI: 307
2007 PHI: 233
2008 PHI: 173
2009 PHI: 521

But the 2004-2007 numbers aren't really fair since that was peak Westbrook, and it's not like his receiving DVOA/DYAR dropped significantly due to the high usage (2004: 212 DYAR, 87 passes, 2005: 161 DYAR, 96 passes, 2006: 183 DYAR, 110 passes, 2007: 188 DYAR, 120 passes).

So it's not like I'm saying "Stallworth/Brown are a good enough receiving group for a QB." I'm saying "Stallworth/Brown plus the greatest receiving RB in his era" is a good enough receiving group.

If you look at that list, really, the only "WTF were you thinking" groups were 1999-2003 and 2008. But 2008 was Jackson's rookie year and Westbrook's final year, so it was a transition period. And you can also see that Kansas City's group in 2013 falls squarely in the "WTF were you thinking" period as well.

87 "McNabb played on good…

"McNabb played on good overall teams with good offensive lines, functional running games, and solid defenses."

Man, I really don't understand how you're not making my point for me...

Smith's receivers were a special kind of garbage for his first few years in KC too. None of his receivers from 2013 were still in the league 4 years later (remember people thinking Dwayne Bowe was an actual NFL quality receiver? Good times). 2014 and 2015 had the emergence of Travis Kelce. It wasn't until 2017 that Hill emerged as a serious WR threat, and Alex Smith's DYAR skyrocketed with it.

The main reason I'd put Smith above McNabb is that in my opinion Smith had better situational awareness, and Smith was doing it without the benefit of McNabb's athleticism.

90 Im honestly stunned you…

Im honestly stunned you watched both players and think Smith was the better of the two. I know his days in SF get blamed on everyone but Alex Smith, but I watched him there. He was definitely not the kind of qb who made his surroundings look better than they were. While for all his faults, McNabb could seemingly generate offense by himself if he needed to. He's a lot like a poor man's Mahomes. That is something I would never characterize Smith for being.

94 "I know his days in SF get…

"I know his days in SF get blamed on everyone but Alex Smith, but I watched him there. He was definitely not the kind of qb who made his surroundings look better than they were."

I don't think Alex Smith had a coach who belonged in the NFL until Harbaugh showed up, and by then he was 27. 

"While for all his faults, McNabb could seemingly generate offense by himself if he needed to. He's a lot like a poor man's Mahomes."

McNabb was pretty bad at working within the structure of a play and adapting throws to what the play needed. His interception percentage was low primarily because the coaches adapted to his accuracy - he was coached to aim low.

I basically think Mahomes is the best parts of McNabb and Smith put together. The main reason I'm saying I'd put Smith above McNabb is I'd rather have a quarterback who understands what's needed and works within it. So maybe it's not fair for me to say Smith is "better" than McNabb, because I think they're basically similar in that they're both limited quarterbacks who Reid made look playoff caliber.

Mahomes is on a clearly different level.

96 I think Peak McNabb and Peak…

I think Peak McNabb and Peak Smith were similar guys, but McNabb never had Smith's 49ers years.

I don't think those were Smith's fault, entirely, but he was awful for a couple of years. Also, although not entirely his fault, two teams let him go for better guys. That didn't happen to McNabb until he was 34 and had been a starter for 12 years.

Where I was going with the team foundation statement was that the best McNabb teams were a lot like this year's Patriot's team. The one where Brady had no tools and looked old and indecisive. That was equivalent to what McNabb usually had to work with.

114 I'm not comparing Smith and…

I'm not comparing Smith and McNabb's *careers*, just their time with Reid.

"The one where Brady had no tools and looked old and indecisive. That was equivalent to what McNabb usually had to work with."

From 1999-2003. After 2003 McNabb had waaay more average to above-average weapons.

Like I said, though, Smith's 2013 was only a small step up from the 1999-2003 years in terms of receiver quality, and the only advantage Smith had in 2014 was Kelce. The Eagles skill position players from 2006-2007 were clearly a step up from Kansas City's 2014 skill position players.

55 it's his second time losing a lead late in a Super Bowl

Criticism is inevitable.

And the 49ers weren't just leading, they were thoroughly dominating the game in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.  What did the Chiefs do differently late in the game to suddenly find a way to stop that offense?  The 49ers didn't punt at all until the last  10 minutes of the game.  Then they had two consecutive drives where they were forced to punt.  

110 I admit I watched the game…

I admit I watched the game through a preconceived lens of believing that KC was the better team and SF would need some breaks to win, but man, I never saw any period in the game where SF was "dominating".

What I saw was a typical football game where the weaker team (SF) benefitted from the stronger team not firing on all cylinders early in the game, and then trying to hold on for the win before the stronger team got their act together.

During the period when they took the lead, SF benefitted from what are usually unsustainable run-based trick plays (WR end arounds notably), and bogged down for FGs twice against a team you probably figured you needed to score TDs against to win.  Going into a game, if you told the opposing coach they'd score 20 points against KC, I doubt many of them would like their chances of getting a W.

SF absolutely could have won that game, especially after the second KC INT resulted in yet another self-inflicted drive halt.  They needed their O to continue to move the ball, though, and how often do NFL teams finish a complete football game without having to punt at least once?

Maybe the criticism of Shanahan's Q4 playcalling is correct, but I expect that he knew if they kept doing what they had been, KC would've adapted and stopped them.  So he needed to change it up to move the sticks and it wasn't successful.

Overall, I think SF's O had a pretty good game, better than I expected them to have.  I don't get the anti-Garappolo sentiment, I think he played fine.  They just weren't the best team on the football field and eventually KC stopped playing down to their level and upped their game. 

Also, for what it's worth, as soon as KC ran that pre snap pirouette play, I'm pretty sure the football gods decided KC was going to win and SF was doomed.

112 I don't get the anti…

I don't get the anti-Garappolo sentiment, I think he played fine. 

From getting the ball up 10 to the end of the game, he went 2-10 for 24 yards and an INT and a 4th-down sack.

His QB rating with pressure was 1.9. We murdered Cousins for not prospering under consistent pressure. Cousins did a lot better than that.

116 If you're pointing out the…

If you're pointing out the reason why people are down on Garappolo, then I get your point, although it could be simplified to "he was the losing QB and couldn't engineer a game winning drive at the end".

If you're suggesting he didn't actually play well, I'm not sure I agree,.  The stats you picked were for what was probably his worst stretch of the game, and that last INT was a situation that called for taking a high risk shot.  He didn't respond well to KC's pressure, yes, I agree with that, but few QBs do, even at the NFL level.  

 

124 The INT was excusable and…

The INT was excusable and mostly irrelevant.

That said, the 2nd down on that drive was only just not a fumble. I thought it was a fumble live, and clearly so did KC.

Sure, it was his bad stretch. But it was also 1/3rd of his passing and occurred in the end game when KC's offense woke up and SF needed another score, or at least a sustained drive. I don't think it's uncharitable to include it in the analysis. I'm not Jimmy's mom.

123 "From getting the ball up 10…

"From getting the ball up 10 to the end of the game, he went 2-10 for 24 yards and an INT and a 4th-down sack."

That's not correct, actually, you're missing the post-interception drive. Doesn't get much better (it's 3-11 for 36 yards), although I'd more judge him in the neutral situation lens (the last two drives) which would be 1-4 for 12 yards. Which, y'know, is bad enough.

I think the difficulty here is just finding a middle ground between "he sucks" and "he's awesome." Garappolo's not going to be league MVP anytime soon, but the 49ers would be nuts to try to replace him. There's way better uses of their resources.

125 Garoppolo is a good QB, I…

Garoppolo is a good QB, I think, if he can outgrow his penchant for his weekly interception.

It's doable. Young Manning and Young Brees were turnover machines. But it's not inevitable. Winston never outgrew it.

129 Brees Manning were a different time

While yes, Manning and Brees were turnover machines early in their careers, those early careers were at a very different time.

It isn't intuitive, but we have to start era-adjusting late-90's, early-00's stats even.

 

That said, I think I'm higher on Jimmy G than most. To me, his biggest issue is accuracy, but as you said in the Winston mode where throws will randomly be wildly off, not that his overall accuracy is lacking (e.g. McNabb).

I actually think he reads the field fairly well. We micro-view these little moments and think 'oh, he should have thrown to this guy'. Let's also give the Chiefs D some credit for the knockdowns and great blitzing in the 4th quarter.