“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”Semisonic – “Closing Time”
…classic words from Semisonic’s 1998 Hit Closing Time. Funny thing is that it has nothing to do with the 49ers and everything to do with Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. The 49ers just happen to be the stepping stone…it could have been anyone from the NFC…doesn’t really matter. In all honestly, the Chiefs should have taken the step last year but Andy Reid’s loyalty and friendship to a 3-year overdue change in Defensive Coordinator got in the way. Irregardless, the Patriots won, the Chiefs lost and Belichick & Brady claimed their 6th (and final) Super Bowl Title.
Enter the 2019 Season. The Chiefs were fueled by a hate-fire that started in the evening hours of January 20th, 2019…and would not be extinguished (yes, this is predictive) until roughly 9pm on February 2nd, 2020. They played like a team who was looking ahead, they lost games they had no business losing (Colts, Titans, Texans and for the love of God a 7-point nail-biter to the Green Bay Packers with half of their Defense/O-Line out and Matt Freakin’ Moore at QB)…yet they persevered…eyes on the prize…one prize…a Super Bowl. The Chiefs 2019 Regular and Post-Season focus? Stay healthy, don’t show too much, keep the powder and emotions dry…be ready for “the moment”, the only one that matters…Miami.
This Chiefs Team is confident and has the swagger of a Champion. To a fan, it can be frustrating, even lackadaisical at times, but ultimately…when it matters…down 24-0 in a playoff game…these Chiefs come through with authority.
Fast forward to right now. The Chiefs are healthy, as healthy as they have been all year. They are hungry, starving to begin a new dynasty for a blue-blood NFL franchise that has lingered in the shadows far too long. They are ready.
So enough on the Chiefs…let’s talk about their opponent. I grew up rooting for the 49ers, I really have nothing against them other than moving to Kansas City and becoming a Chiefs fan over the last 10 years. They have a great story to tell…Shanahan and Lynch have done a fantastic job drafting young talent and building veteran leadership around them. But when I look at San Francisco this year, here is what I see (and it hasn’t changed since week 1): 3rd in the NFC West at 4-12 in 2018 gives you a really favorable 2019 schedule against other 3rd place teams (Panthers, Packers and Redskins). AFC North opponents: Bengals, Steelers, Browns? Yikes. NFC South: Falcons, Saints, Panthers? Good win against the Saints, bad loss to the Falcons. And then we get to the NFC West…what used to be a juggernaut of a Division is living as a ghost of past glory. The Rams are a talented disaster, the Cardinals are who we always knew they were (a 5-10-1 “meh”) and the Seahawks…oh the Seahawks. The Seahawks are who Russell Wilson says they are week to week. Always hanging, scrapping, clinging and somehow making it to the Divisional Round each year (but never truly a threat to anymore). The 2019 San Francisco 49ers are a product of playing inspired (yet overlooked by everyone) football against a weak schedule. Don’t be mistaken, the NFC Championship Game Packers are the exact same trash that they were in Week 12, no adjustment whatsoever.
Did the Chiefs lose to those same Packers? Yes. Were they anywhere near full strength offensively, defensively or emotionally? Not even close.
This brings us to Sunday. The Chiefs will be truly focused for the first time all season, at full strength for the first time all season…and fully “in-the-moment” for the first time all season.
Will the following happen? Probably not. But take a brief journey with me and imagine…
The 49ers win the toss and elect to go on defense first. The kickoff…a touchback, duh. 1st & 10 from the 25 and the Chiefs come out in a tight bunch formation. With 10 seconds left on the play-clock Mahomes barks out signals and all of a sudden the Chiefs flex into 4-wide…Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill streak out to opposite sidelines, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins move into the slots and a fully-rested Shady McCoy stands next to Mahomes in the shotgun. The 49ers defense scrambles in multiple directions…clearly confused. 4…3…2… the ball is snapped. Hill and Hardman streak straight down the sidelines, taking both corners and safeties with them. Watkins hits 15 yards straight ahead and then bursts towards the middle of the field, sucking 2 linebackers with him. Kelce drags 10 yards across the middle taking another linebacker with him. Mahomes drops an additional 5 yards after receiving the snap…looking deep…waiting…waiting. The 49ers 4-man pass rush does it’s job, breaking through the Chiefs line with ease.
Just when it’s going to be a “lights-out” sack on the first play of the game, Mahomes gently lofts the ball over the fearsome 49ers pass rush, to a patiently waiting Shady McCoy…my God…a Screen! With a full line of massive Chiefs in front of him, Shady weaves ahead 50 yards to the 49ers 25-yard line before tripping over himself (like he always does). 1st & 10. Shanahan looks across the field at Andy Reid in disbelief. Andy looks back, give him the “Suck it” sign, and calls his next play.
A new dynasty begins…
– Tommy Nuggets