Just the other day in the Greenup County High School cafeteria I heard a comment from a distance ... “Bandwagon,” referring to my 49ers gear that I was proudly wearing.
I couldn’t let it go, so I happily approached the naysayer with some info about my Niners. I explained my fandom for the Red and Gold dating back to my childhood watching Steve Young and Jerry Rice.
I get it, you don’t see a lot of 49er fans in Kentucky, but for a kid that was obsessed with football, there was no better duo in the ‘90s than Young to Rice.
What’s funny is, I always wanted to be a running back, but when I actually started playing, my coach put me at QB. Now I was not only a Steve Young fan, I was a fellow left-handed QB just like my childhood hero. Ask my parents, my entire room was 49ers, literally — even the carpet!
Which brings me full circle to the big game. All in all, the Niners have five Super Bowl championships and have some of the most historic players of all time to wear the gold helmet. I’m talking Lott, Montana, Rice, Young, Owens, and now Bosa, Sherman, and Garoppolo. Not to mention a coach by the name of Bill Walsh.
Enough of the history lesson, let’s get to it.
The 49ers are the most dominant defense in the league, as they currently rank first in total defense during the playoffs. They are led up front by Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, with veteran Richard Sherman patrolling the secondary. Sherman being matched up with Chiefs sparkplug Tyreek Hill will be a fun one to watch. While the Chiefs defense has improved over the course of the season, it’s no doubt the advantage here goes to San Fran. Although much respect goes to Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who can single-handedly take over the game and light up the scoreboard.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan vs. Chiefs coach Andy Reid, two of the most innovative offensive minds in football, will be a battle within itself. While K.C. has the best player, the 49ers have the better overall scheme. The Niners are a new-school team with an old-school mentality, as seen in their likeness of using more fullbacks and tight ends than any other team in the league (besides the Ravens).
The Niners dig in with heavy personnel (multiple fullbacks and tight ends) nearly 80% of the time and use a ton of variation in the running game to churn out yardage. To complement their run game, they love the play-action pass. Not the RPO as much, but they truly use the play-action pass to attack the defense vertically. Kyle Shanahan brings a lot of his dad’s (Mike Shanahan) philosophy to the game and will do whatever it takes to run the football while using motions, misdirection, and various formations to keep the opponent on its toes.
49ers winning edge
• They win the battle in trenches
• More Super Bowl experience
• Kyle Shanahan wears Yeezys and designed his own hat (more swag)
• Andy Reid’s call sheet is more difficult to read than a Waffle House menu and he will most likely get confused between the All-Star Special and a key fourth-down decision
Get the Gatorade ready, San Fran, Niners win!
SCOTT GRIZZLE is the football coach at Hazard. He will teach at Greenup County, where he has coached the last four seasons, through the remainder of this school year.