Weekly Five – Super Bowl Special
Welcome to my new weekly series, the Weekly
Five! Every Wednesday (except for this one), I will be bringing you five
different topics that have been on my mind in the week prior, whether it be
prospects I’ve scouted, news that breaks, or just random Draft thoughts. It’s
as simple as that. For the series debut, I’ll be bringing you a mini-review of
Super Bowl LIV, and a bit of an outlook for the future of both franchises.
Without further ado, let’s get this thing started!
Super Bowl Review
Coming in, I thought the 49ers would have to play a virtually perfect game to have a chance to beat Kansas City late in the game. Apart from the Jimmy G interception in the first half, I thought they nearly did. We saw big plays from Deebo Samuel early and I loved their willingness to feed him, but moving away from him in the second half puzzled me. Garoppolo played a pretty clean game overall and defensively the Niners had KC’s number. It seemed like Bosa and company were in the backfield nearly every play, forcing Mahomes to press a little too hard. Just when you think they’re down and out, though, the Chiefs continue to find a way. Mahomes made opportune plays down the stretch getting all of his weapons involved, and Chris Jones was dominant on the other side of the ball.
Sure, Kyle Shanahan’s decisions to run out the clock in the first half and force Garoppolo to throw on second down in the final minutes were questionable. I’m here to tell you that the narratives here are overblown. He’s a terrific coach and the Chiefs did enough to win regardless. Just because Jimmy G missed his chance to take them down the field late doesn’t mean he didn’t play a good game and San Francisco can’t win with him. Nevertheless, Pat Mahomes cemented himself as the face of the league and Andy Reid buried his face in a celebratory cheeseburger as KC took home the title.
What’s Next for the Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes is going to get paid the big bucks, that’s obvious. Whether it’s this off-season or the next, he’s going to get his deal and Kansas City will contend no matter what with him at the helm. I don’t doubt we’ll see some more offensive additions as well, potentially upgrading the RB spot (although Damien Williams was terrific on Sunday) and finding a potential replacement for Sammy Watkins, who has hinted at stepping away from football. Things will get tricky because Chris Jones is a free agent this year and there is no way they can let him walk (franchise tag?). KC has an abundance of role players needing new deals as well. They will probably need a reload on the offensive line apart from Mitchell Schwartz, and they have needs at edge and corner going forward as well. Juan Thornhill, who was injured for the playoffs, will be back for his second year and will continue to make an excellent partner to Tyrann Mathieu. Brett Veach has his work cut out for him to create needed cap space, but as long as Mahomes is on the books, this team will have a chance to get back here every single year.
What’s Next for the 49ers
This is still a loaded roster that is only losing Arik Armstead, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jimmie Ward as major free agents this year. All three can be brought back with some maneuvering, and their potential franchise QB is locked up for the next few years. This team still has a great chance to compete next year with largely the same core, although only one draft pick in the first four rounds could be detrimental to depth. The big predicament will be the 2021 offseason, with George Kittle, DeForest Buckner, and Kyle Juszczyk among the big free agents, so look out for potential extensions starting this spring. The window for the 49ers to get back and win the whole thing will all depend on Jimmy Garoppolo taking the next step and damage control when it comes to paying the big stars on the roster. While we could see some regression next season, they are looking good for 2020, but questions will arise afterwards.
Prospects I Like for Kansas City
One player I like a lot for the Chiefs is Wisconsin’s Zack Baun. I wrote about him in my Prospect I Love article, and I think his versatility is exactly what they need on the defensive side of the ball. Their linebackers generally struggle in coverage, and they are searching for EDGE help opposite Frank Clark, and Baun can fill both of those needs with his rush moves and ability in space. Cornerback is also a need, and TCU’s Jeff Gladney is within range at 32. He’s not the biggest player but has excellent explosiveness and ball skills and has experience in both man and zone, and can be a tremendous playmaker for this defense.
Prospects I Like for San Francisco
With only one pick in the first four rounds, the 49ers could be a target at 31 for a team looking to move back into the first, as they are in desperate need of picks. There will still potentially be some playmakers on the board for the Niners at that spot, though. Alabama safety Xavier McKinney is a versatile piece they could use on the back end, especially if Jimmie Ward isn’t retained. He has good range and ball skills as a deep safety but can also be used to make splash plays closer to the line of scrimmage. Another interesting player would be LSU interior lineman Lloyd Cushenberry. If they elect to add offensive line depth, Cushenberry has the athleticism and skillset to be a quality blocker in Kyle Shanahan’s zone scheme.