BY Art Thiel 11:20PM 02/02/2020

Thiel: 49ers’ Super fade had a familiar look to it

Kansas City’s Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes, blasted the 49ers with 21 points in five minutes. It looked familiar to Seattle fans, who saw Seahawks do nearly the same thing.

Two warrriors from Seattle’s Super Bowl past, Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, greet each other after the Seahawks-49er game Dec. 29. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Observant Seahawks fans may have noticed a little something familiar in the Kansas City Chiefs’ blistering comeback in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night.

It looked a lot like what the Seahawks did to the 49ers in the the second half of the Dec. 29 game at the Clink.

Granted, QB Patrick Mahomes, the game’s most valuable player, was a little more efficient, directing a 21-point burst in five minutes of the fourth quarter to bring down 50 years of pent-up Midwestern reticence upon the heads of the bewildered 49ers.

The Chiefs’ 31-20 triumph (box), after being down 20-10, wasn’t as scalding to the losers as the Seahawks’ Super Bowl defeat five years ago to New England. But don’t try telling that to the Niners, who looked to have the game locked down with the lead and seven minutes to go, the Chiefs facing third-and-15 and their own 35-yard line.

Then began a series of unfortunate events for the NFC West champs, starting with a 44-yard completion from Mahomes to WR Tyreek Hill that was the game’s turning point. A few plays later, Mahomes hit TE Travis Kelce for a one-yard touchdown pass, and the walls began closing in on the Niners.

As happened, or nearly so, in Seattle five weeks earlier.

Down 13-0 at the half, QB Russell Wilson led the Seahawks on touchdown drives of 62, 75 and 60 yards against the backpedaling Niners defense. His 21 points took 15 minutes, but there was also an additional 41 yards on the final Seattle possession.

It just needed to be 42 yards.

As Seahawks fans will remember to their graves, Wilson’s fourth-down, four-yard completion to fifth-string TE Jacob Hollister ended up about an inch short of the end zone. The subsequent difference in playoff fates, to put it in golf terms, was the Seahawks road to the Super Bowl went through Augusta National, while the Niners drew the neighborhood muni with rubber-mat tee boxes.

But there was a distinct difference in the storylines: Against Seattle, the 49ers managed a couple of  counter-punches — 75 yards on five plays for a touchdown and a 19-7 third-quarter lead, and another 75-yarder in seven plays for a 26-14 with six minutes left. Against the Chiefs, the 49ers faltered on their final three possessions, which concluded with punt/loss on downs/interception.

So from a Seattle post-Super Bowl perspective, what can be deduced from these major NFL games? Here’s five thoughts.

*Good as were the 15-4 Niners, Garoppolo is not a Wilson-class dreadnaught, and the defense is vulnerable. The Seahawks put up 27 points in the teams’ first meeting, and would have had 28, but for an inch, in the second, and that was after missing three running backs, two linemen and four tight ends. Much can change in the NFC West, but for 2019, Seattle and San Francisco were good, not great, teams in a dead heat.

*The Seahawks managed to get to 12 wins despite a brutal penchant for surrendering explosive plays, a function of a miserable pass rush and weak play at cornerback, and earlier at safety. In those two combined drives Dec. 29, San Francisco spooled out plays of 49, 25, 13, 16, 21 and 13 yards. With a 26th-ranked defense,  the Seahawks may have been the NFL’s luckiest mediocre team. Nearly every draft pick and free agent dollar in 2020 needs to go to defense.

*Mahomes, the first QB to win an MVP award and a Super Bowl before age 25, proved again that really good quarterbacks can suck sometimes for long stretches of games and still possess the wherewithal to win, particularly when they have the freedom to break off and run.

Mahomes and Garoppolo were aided by playcalling that includes lots of pre-snap motion and early-down passing. Note to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and coach Brian Schottenheimer: Ahem.

*Kansas City became the first team in NFL history to win three playoff games in a row in which it was down by 10 or more points each. It’s easy to say that it was because the Chiefs have Mahomes and really fast receivers. The better argument is premium coaching. Simply put, smart, experienced guys like Carroll, Andy Reid, John Harbaugh and Bill Belichick have seen and done it all. The 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan and the Rams’ Sean McVay have not. No insult intended, but NFL bosses’ infatuation with young, bright innovators overlooks the virtues of managing people better after learning from mistakes.

*Our good friend CB Richard Sherman had a down game. Inside four minutes, Mahomes went over Sherman’s head for 38 yards to WR Sammy Watkins for a first down at the SF 10. Two plays later, RB Damien Williams out-ran Sherman to the pylon for the go-ahead touchdown. At 31, he wasn’t playing the way he did in his first two Super Bowls with Seattle, which is entirely expectable. But when the off-season assessments begin about why the 49ers’ defense is prone to acute fades, he might be a starting point.

And one last thought, underscoring what I wrote last week.

Let us all link arms together and say: You’re a good man, Andy Reid.

“My heart’s racing,” he said, beaming, during the Lombardi Trophy presentation. “I’m older; I can’t let it race too much.”

The hell you can’t.


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YourThoughts

  • Husky73

    Congrats to the Chiefs and their great home state of Kansas!

    • ReebHerb

      I had a great steak dinner one time on the Kansas side of Kansas City.

      • art thiel

        Good try, Herb.

        • Husky73

          There’s a Boston, Kentucky. Trump thinks the Red Sox play there.

    • art thiel

      Geography was not a degree program at Trump University.

      • Kirkland

        The only “Kansas City” team that’s actually in the state of Kansas is Sporting Kansas City of MLS.

      • rosetta_stoned

        In which of the 57 states is Trump University located?

        • Husky73

          Kind of like when Trump referred to the attacks of 2001 as 7-11? And Paradise, CA as Pleasure? Grab them by the pu**y? Hamberders? Covfefe? Colorado border wall? Rake the forests? Shoot them in the legs? Greenland? Airports? Smocking? Napoleon Bonaparte? Cocked and loaded? Hamberders? A man on the moon? 15 flushes? Windmills cause cancer? Oranges? Drawing on a weather map (my favorite)? She’s gonna go through some stuff? Stable genius? Nuke the hurricane? Alligators and snakes? Aricle 2? Move on her like a bitch? Kurds and Normandy? In my great and unmatched wisdom? The chosen one? Do us a favor though….?

          • art thiel

            Feel better? Back to the game, please.

          • Effzee

            Great Super Bowl. Mahomes totally used the Russell Wilson model, lol. The Seahawks need to get fast and mean on defense again, real quick. That Super Bowl hangover is going to be a doozy for SF. The division is ripe for the taking.

          • Effzee

            Meh. Actions speak louder than words. Lots of good actions. Many questionable words. But what’s the alternative? I’m certainly not proud to be represented by the things that he says, but it was absolutely necessary to drain the DC swamp that created the situation that would get Trump elected in the first place. Unfortunately, it has been proven that with establishment Democrat ideals come tent cities and third world living conditions. Its just not really debatable at this point. So, what kind of America do we want? Band-aids, back rubs and anti-depressants, or jobs, data and solutions? The DNC seemingly hasn’t spent one second maintaining or improving itself since 2016. Ironically enough, it seems like everyone is just kind of expecting someone else to take care of it, lol. After last night’s caucus hilarity, Trump is going to seem more and more like the stable, sane choice, and people are going to flock to maintaining the status quo over tearing the whole system down. I want someone else to be President, but not just anyone else. There is no “normal person” at the front of the Democratic crowd. There is nobody capable of forming a consensus. There’s hardly even a capitalist! The dysfunction, incompetence and inability to convey any coherent, supportable message aside from Orange Man Bad is stunning, mesmerizing, baffling and completely disheartening.

        • art thiel

          State of disbelief.

        • jafabian

          On the Mexican border I think…

  • jafabian

    So the NFC West loses the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. Next season could be the Seahawks or Cardinals then? If it’s the Seahawks I’ll take it. When you have DangeRuss at QB there’s always a chance at winning.

    Good game, especially if you’re a Chiefs fan. A little surprised that Mahomes tested Sherman twice in the closing minutes. I’m wondering since he had success if other teams will finally start doing so. Even at his age and injury history QBs still rarely throw in Sherman’s direction.

    I read how the Hawks are 22-1 odds at winning the Super Bowl, good to be the 9th rated team right behind the Cowboys, a non-playoff team. I hope someone posts that in the Hawks locker room.

    • art thiel

      My guess is that the scouting report showed Sherman’s late-game vulnerability.

      I don’t think a ninth spot is off for a team with a weak defense that reached he round of eight.

      • coug73

        Sherman missed the jam at the line of scrimmage. It was a foot race after that. See ya later, wouldn’t want to be ya.

      • jafabian

        Maybe but I don’t see the Cowboys being better. I guess it’s because of McCarthy but I don’t see him as a better coach than Pete.

        • Effzee

          Cowboys aren’t going anywhere with JerruhJones at the helm. McCarthy hire makes me LOL.

          • jafabian

            I want to see McCarthy succeed and Rodgers to fail since the Packers sided with Aaron.

          • Effzee

            McCarthy hasn’t endeared himself to me in a way that makes me not hate the Cowboys. I never want to see the Cowboys or Jerry Jones succeed. I’d rather watch Rodgers win than Jones 100 times out of 100. I think it’s funny that Jerry hired the guy he couldn’t beat, who the Packers fired, and then Rodgers went back to the NFC champ game in McCarthy’s 12-year-old replacement’s first season. That makes me LOL.

    • eYeROQ

      I was surprised Sherm let Watkins slip by him so easily. He barely even tried to press him at the line. Not sure if he was gassed but he appeared too preoccupied staring at Mahomes to keep track of his assignment.

      • jafabian

        Like coug73 said his game is to knock the receiver down when the ball passes the line of scrimmage. That’s when they become a blocker and are no longer a receiver. He knocks them down and that’s one less receiving option for the offense. He does this more as he gets older and he’s also lost a step IMO after his Achilles injury. His way of compensating no doubt. Pretty smart actually but his weakness has been exposed on the national stage now. You’re right that he tries to predict the QB’s actions but he doesn’t adjust like he used to.

        • eYeROQ

          Yeah “bump and run” and he’s always done this really well. It’s not “knocking them down” (hard to knock down a NFL receiver) so much as bumping or jamming at the line just enough to interrupt their timing route. He clearly missed the jam at the line, but it was letting Watkins get behind him after that was less excusable. Even this season he’s rarely let it happen. Upon re-watch it looks like he tried to guess the Watkins route and got beat.

          • jafabian

            I saw a game the Hawks played against Atlanta a few years ago where Sherman drove both forearms into Julio Jones, knocking down to the ground. The Falcons players and their sideline was screaming for PI but the refs did nothing. Cris Collinsworth was all over it explaining that Sherman kept his eye on Matt Ryan and once Ryan passed the line of scrimmage Julio became a blocker and Sherman was within his right to hit him. The play was a decoy designed to go to Julio and since Sherman took him out that disrupted the play. The fact that Ryan threw the ball to an empty space confirmed Sherman disrupted a timing play. I watched Sherman more after that and realized that’s a big part of his game.

  • Tim

    “Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs. You represented the Great State of Kansas, and, in fact, the entire USA, so very well. OUR COUNTRY IS PROUD OF YOU!” Donald Trump
    Ditto

    • art thiel

      Well, so much for game commentary . . .

      • Tim

        Okay…here’s mine: Garappolo had a chance for glory at the end. I’m pretty confident that were Russell Wilson in his shoes with that offensive firepower the Niners win. Jimmy is a choker.

        • Husky73

          In most cases (a few exceptions), the team with the better quarterback wins. It happened again yesterday.

          • art thiel

            Still sticking your neck out, eh?

        • art thiel

          Choking is a term thrown around too easily. The fact that he isn’t as good as Wilson also works for about 30 other QBs. 3 INCs in a row on one series doesn’t make him a choker.

        • jafabian

          I thought the 20-10 deficit for the Chiefs could easily be caught up because DangeRuss could do 2 quick strikes without even trying. It makes the playoff loss to the Packers even more frustrating. The goal in the offseason among other things should be adding depth.

          • Tim

            Exactly my thinking. They need explosiveness on defense.

      • eYeROQ

        You be the one to explain to him KC is in Missouri. He’d try to rewrite history by insisting it’s not, kind of like that hurricane threatening Alabama.

        • Lightninbug

          At least he knows how many states we have unlike “you know who”.

          • eYeROQ

            At least in that case, if you read the entire paragraph in context, it’s clear he misspoke when he meant 47 states not including Hawaii and Alaska with one left to go.

            “… it is just wonderful to be back in Oregon, and over the last 15 months we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in fifty …. seven states? I think one left to go. One left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit but my staff would not justify it.”

            More importantly, he acknowledged his mistake later in the day and didn’t try to rewrite history like you know who.

          • Lightninbug

            Ha Ha Ha Ha, a new one to cover ancient tracks of a truly idiotic president. Good luck covering for that mess. What’s your excuse for “:corpesman” repeated several times to perfectly illustrate his ineptness and lack of. . .brain power.?

          • eYeROQ

            LOOOLZ! It’s not hard to believe a guy who graduated in the top 10% of his class at Harvard Law misspoke about 57 states. You’d have to be lacking serious brain cells to believe otherwise.

            On the other hand, a guy who regularly doubles down on his mistakes and tries to rewrite history removes all doubt. Ever heard the saying that starts off “Better to keep your mouth shut and thought a fool …”?

            Kansas City, Kansas. ROTFL!

        • rosetta_stoned

          I’m know I’m talking to a brick wall here, but earlier reports by the NWS were showing a wide path of where the hurricane could end up. Including Alabama.

          • eYeROQ

            I know that’s what was claimed by NWS’s parent agency, but the email archive of the time period from NOAA obtained by Buzzfeed a few days ago by a FOIA request proves otherwise. It demonstrated the announcement came as a face saving gesture for a president who was adamant about refusing to admit he got it wrong and instead demanded the agency back up his empirical falsehood.

        • Kristafarian

          He’s the President.
          Give him the damn Sharpie
          and he can put Kansas City
          where the President wants
          to put Kansas City.

    • rosetta_stoned

      Rent-free in your head.
      The next four years will be rough. Pace yourself.

      • Husky73

        For the first time in his vile, compulsively lying and thoroughly corrupt life, Trump has been held accountable. And, the person doing it is a 79 year old, 105 pound woman from California. There’s some poetry in that.

      • Tim

        Sorry…your comment makes no sense.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Kyle Shanahan sure does make some strange decisions. Electing to make the clock kill itself at the end of the first half is one. That sends a great message to your quarterback. Not kicking the field goal in the Atlanta Super Bowl, which likely would have won the game, is another. He’s been a big part of two blown 4th quarter leads in Super Bowls. Not many can say that. He seems to lose his nerve at times. The Niners had one drive that featured six consecutive plays that were first downs, the last ending in a score. That kind of offense does not need a tether. Too few passes off of play action. But yeah, his defensive backfield probably cost him the game.

    • Husky73

      Shanahan lost his composure a couple of times on the sidelines. Reid kept his.

      • art thiel

        Shanahan is wound a bit tight. But at 40, he has plenty of time to learn. Too bad the lesson takes place on the biggest TV event of the year.

    • art thiel

      Still haven’t heard a good explanation of the end of half decisions. TV showed his boss, Lynch, signaling TO that never happened.

    • Chris Alexander

      As I mentioned to my son during the game, it seemed like Shanahan was playing not to lose whereas Reid was playing to win.

      That said, I don’t really believe that the Niners “choked” or that their play calling was suspect in the 4th quarter. Truth be told, if Jimmy didn’t overthrow his receiver after the 2nd KC touchdown, the game likely would have ended like it did in Seattle – with San Fran landing just enough counterpunches to hold on and win.

      • Kevin Lynch

        Yes, Chris, I believe you have it right. One play or one throw could have changed it. But, nonetheless…I say BEWARE this offense next year if they can keep it together. Samuel and Sanders and Kittle is a killer….but there were too few passes thrown their way last night. They went with Bourne, who bore them away from their strength.

  • eYeROQ

    “*As with Wilson, Mahomes, the first QB to win an MVP award and a Super Bowl before age 25”

    Ok but Wilson never won MVP. Only Mahomes won both before 25.

    • art thiel

      Fixed. Thanks.

  • ll9956

    Truly a memorable comeback by Mahomes and his teammates. I find it hard to fathom how calm he appeared on the sideline, when things looked pretty dark for the Chiefs, a gift of great quarterbacks. I don’t know what his salary is now, but one thing is for sure: When it comes time to renew his contract, barring an unprecedented nosedive in his performance, which seems highly unlikely, his net worth will take a helluva quantum jump.

    • art thiel

      The fact that he’s on his rookie contract helped KC rebuild the defense by signing expensive vets like Mathieu and Clark. That’s how Seahawks managed in ’13.

  • WestCoastBias79

    Andy Reid has passed the baffling time management torch to Shanahan.

    • art thiel

      Carroll would like a piece of that action.

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      The worst time management in the combined history of timekeeping and sport was the Coogs’ first bowl game under The Pirate. Many tv devices were destroyed that day, some with the remote fully embedded in the screen; others were thrown out the window, and finally, a few others had bullet holes.