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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The Channels guide to the Super Bowl: Players to watch, predictions

Photo from Shutterstock

This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will battle the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Former City College football player Mitch Wishnowsky is playing in his first championship game as a member of the 49ers while reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes will lead the Chiefs in the most important game of his career. 

San Francisco 49ers

How They Got Here

Since firing their head coach, Jim Harbaugh, at the conclusion of the 2014 season the San Francisco 49ers had been one of the worst teams in the National Football League.

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From 2015 to 2018, the 49ers had a record of 17-47, three different head coaches, and six starting quarterbacks. 

But this season everything changed.

Years of high draft picks gained by finishing low in the standings built a strong foundation, particularly on the defense. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is having his first full season as a starter. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch finally have the players they need to execute their vision for the team.

The 49ers’ patience with their leadership after two losing seasons paid off, with a 13-3 record this year behind the NFL’s number two defense and number two rushing attack.

Players to Watch

George Kittle, Tight End #85.

Kittle has been arguably the 49ers most important player this season, which is unusual for a tight end. He led the team in receiving yards and dominated as a blocker on the way to being named the league’s best at his position by the Associated Press. His energy and team-first attitude set the tone for the 49ers on the offensive end.

Nick Bosa, Defensive End #97

Bosa, brother to Los Angeles Chargers star Joey Bosa, is having a stellar rookie season. He led the team in quarterback pressures after being selected with the second pick in the draft, and he is likely to win the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback #10

Garoppolo was expected to be the heir apparent to Tom Brady before he was traded to the 49ers during the 2017 season. He won all five of his starts to finish that year, earning a big contract and giving fans hope for the future. His potential was delayed after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his third game of 2018 against the Chiefs. He bounced back well this season, and this weekend he will get another shot at the Chiefs on the game’s biggest stage.

Why They Could Win

Shanahan’s innovative play-calling coupled with physical blockers has given a stable of athletic running backs plenty of space to roam this season, which has taken pressure off of Garoppolo and allowed him to maximize his efficiency. On the other side of the ball, a ferocious pass rush led by former first-round picks Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford has been putting quarterbacks on the ground and forcing mistakes all season long.

If the 49ers’ rush can slow down the Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense and Shanahan’s offense can take advantage of a mediocre Kansas City run defense, the 49ers could control the game and win their sixth title.

Kansas City Chiefs

How they got here

It’s been a very long 50 years for the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Since winning the Super Bowl in 1969, the team has been nothing, if not, utterly average. Between 1969 and 1989, the team was led by seven different head coaches. They’ve made it to the playoffs and lost 17 times since their last championship season.

Now, they have the chance to change how the world sees them in their first Super Bowl appearance in half a century. 

Led by Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce, the Chiefs are primed for an offensive surge in the Super Bowl.

Mahomes led his team past the Houston Texans in the divisional round, and Tennessee Titans in the conference championships to meet Jimmy G and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. 

The Chiefs played through the recent controversy, mostly surrounding wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Last year, audio leaked of Hill and his fiancee discussing how to discipline their child, leading the NFL to launch an investigation into allegations of child abuse.

Hill avoided a suspension, causing fans to call the league’s disciplinary policies into question. 

Hill also pleaded guilty to domestic violence earlier in his career. 

The Chiefs were able to move past that, for the most part, and put the focus back on football. 

The team’s success can’t erase Hill’s turbulent past, but it’s not like the NFL is the pinnacle of morality. 


The Chiefs are here, they made it back to the Super Bowl, and they are ready to win. 

Players to Watch

Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback #15

Mahomes has been the leader of this squad for two years, taking home the MVP last season. The Chiefs have their best chance of winning on Sunday if Mahomes is on his A-game. The Chiefs could win if Mahomes isn’t at his best, but they probably won’t. The Chiefs will live and die on Mahomes’ ability to get the ball down the field, and avoid getting sacked by the dominant 49ers defense. 

Travis Kelce, Tight End #87

George Kittle, tight end for the 49ers, is elite but Travis Kelce is still a threat to San Francisco. He’s made the Pro Bowl each of the last five seasons. He ranks 24 in receptions among active players. He’s got the speed and the stamina to keep up with Mahomes’ passing game. If he’s connecting with his QB on the big plays, the 49ers are going to be in serious trouble. 

Why They Could Win

During the Chiefs’ divisional-round win over the Texans, a game which they played at home, the team tagged Houston for 51-points, and the stadium subsequently ran out of touchdown fireworks. 

The Chiefs’ offense is elite, and Andy Reid is one of the smartest head coaches out there. He won the most games without winning a Super Bowl than any coach in history. He knows how to play his offense and how to line up his defense. 

Andy Reid needs a ring, and his quarterback is elite enough to win him one. 

Mahomes won the MVP for a reason, and the 49ers better pray they don’t find out why. 

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