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The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

Preview: Super Bowl 58

A deep dive into this year’s Super Bowl
Super+Bowl+58+will+feature+the+Kansas+City+Chiefs+and+the+San+Francisco+49ers.+The+game+kicks+off+at+3%3A30+p.m.+on+Sunday+on+CBS.
Nicholas Hull
Super Bowl 58 will feature the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday on CBS.

Four years ago, the San Francisco 49ers held a 20—10 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs with just over six minutes left in Super Bowl 54. But in those six minutes, the Chiefs had a comeback led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, with the final score being 31—20 in the Chiefs favor. This year, these two teams will face off again in Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The first thing to note about this year’s Super Bowl is that these are not the same two teams that met in Super Bowl 54. While the coaches and front office remain the same, there are differences in how their rosters are constructed and the style in which they play the game.

In Super Bowl 54, the Chiefs leading receiver was Tyreek Hill, as he caught the ball nine times for a total of 105 yards. But in 2022, Hill was traded away to the Miami Dolphins. Now the Chiefs leading receiver is their tight end, Travis Kelce, who amassed 93 catches for 984 yards in the regular season. 

Kelce has been their only weapon in the passing game, with the Chiefs next best receiver being Rashee Rice, a rookie. Rice caught 79 passes for 938 yards in the regular season. The biggest problem in their passing game, though, is the amount of drops. Out of 597 Mahomes throws, there have been 44 drops, which is worst in the league. 

On the bright side, the Chiefs defense has gotten significantly better since 2020, developing from being an average defense to a top-five defense now. The Chiefs defense has allowed the second-fewest yards per game and the second-fewest points per game.

The Chiefs and the 49ers have different running backs than they did in 2020, since the Chiefs drafted Isiah Pacheco in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft and the 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey halfway through last season. Pacheco had 935 yards this season, and ran for 4.6 yards per carry.

McCaffrey, however, led the league in rushing yards with 1,459, and ran for 5.4 yards per carry. Not only did McCaffrey affect the 49ers ground game, he also caught the ball 67 times and amassed 564 receiving yards. McCaffrey is currently the favorite to win Offensive Player of the Year.

Perhaps the biggest difference on the 49ers roster is the quarterback position. In 2020, their quarterback was Jimmy Garoppolo, and now their current quarterback is Brock Purdy, who was selected during the last pick in the 2022 draft. Last year, he was the team’s third option as a quarterback, but the starter and the backup were injured, so he took over the starting job, and kept it through successful play. The 49ers offense has flourished with Purdy at the helm, with the offense scoring the third-most points per game and gaining the second-most yards per game. 

Although the 49ers offense is better than it was four years ago, their defense is not. During the 2019-20 season, the 49ers defense was considered the best in the league by fans. This year, their defense barely cracks the top five. Compared to their team in previous years, the 49ers have struggled defending opposing running backs, allowing 4.1 yards per carry to their opponents, which puts the 49ers defense at 11th in the NFL in that category

The Chiefs didn’t defend the run particularly well this season, allowing their opponents 113.2 rushing yards per game. If the 49ers can establish the run early and take a lead, they can control the game fairly easily.

The 49ers greatest strength is their running game, led by McCaffrey and their coach, Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan is considered one of the craftiest play-callers in the league because of his ability to find ways to get his players the ball in open space. The running game is also backed by blockers Trent Williams, who was Pro Football Focus’ number one ranked offensive tackle, and Kyle Jusczyk, an eight-time Pro Bowler. In totality, the 49ers have the third-best running game in the league, averaging 140.5 rushing yards per game. 

The Chiefs didn’t defend the run particularly well this season, allowing their opponents 113.2 rushing yards per game. If the 49ers can establish the run early and take a lead, they can control the game fairly easily.

The Chiefs greatest strength is not a stat, nor a style of play, but a player. Mahomes is 14—3 in the playoffs, 10—3 as an underdog, as well as 2—1 in the Super Bowl. Mahomes has consistently shown up in the playoffs, averaging 282.5 passing yards per game, which ranks sixth all time among players who played in five or more playoff games. The 49ers have a monumental task ahead of them in attempting to slow down Mahomes.

Some other storylines surrounding the game include Chiefs coach Andy Reid looking to become the fifth coach ever to win three or more Super Bowls, and if Patrick Mahomes can seep further into the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) conversation. Some surrounding the 49ers are wondering if Shanahan can finally win the Super Bowl and if Purdy can win big games.

The halftime show is headlined by Usher, an eight-time Grammy award winner. He has made hits such as “Yeah!” and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”. He said in an interview with Good Morning America that his Super Bowl halftime show will honor black artists of the past. Also performing at the Super Bowl are artists Reba McEntire, singing the national anthem, Post Malone, singing “America the Beautiful”, and Andra Day, performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

Last year’s Super Bowl was the most-viewed ever, drawing an average of 115.1 million viewers across all platforms. There’s a chance that this year’s big game tops that. The Chiefs and 49ers were, according to statista.com, the two most popular NFL franchises this season. The Chiefs have also been especially popular as of late due to one of their stars, Kelce, dating popstar Taylor Swift.

Super Bowl 58 is sure to be an entertaining watch, whether you like football, the halftime show, the commercials, or if you’re a Swiftie. The game will be held on Feb. 11 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

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Nicholas Hull, Staff Reporter
A sports enthusiast, Nicholas Hull, sophomore, is currently participating in his first year on journalism staff. In addition to writing articles about sports, he enjoys running cross country, singing, reading, watching sports, writing poetry, and playing board games. Hull has wanted to be either a journalist or sports broadcaster since primary school and hopes the skills he gains in high school will help him become a sports journalist for ESPN.
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