Some have compared this iteration of Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers to ‘the Monstars’ from the 90s Basketball cult-classic Space Jam. Both feature freak athletes who can overwhelm their opponents. I wouldn’t wish trying to take down Christian McCaffrey with big Trent Williams, George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk blocking on my worst enemy.

The 49ers were the favorites heading in by 7.5 points against the Detroit Lions in last Sunday’s Conference Championship. Even so, some 49ers fans on social media were trying to push an underdog narrative. If you hadn’t watched 49ers football all season, and were unfamiliar with the names on their sideline, you’d have assumed they were underdogs based on the first half, having been down by as much as 17 to the Lions. Somehow, some way, San Francisco turned it on in the second half, and equally, Detroit turned it off.

It was not pretty, but the 49ers clinched a ticket to Las Vegas, to play the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. This is a highly coveted rematch of Super Bowl 54, where the Chiefs took down the 49ers by a score of 31-20. This tie around, there is a legitimate case that the 49ers are underdogs… Or at least generally less favored. Kansas City boasts the greatest quarterback and tight end of this generation in Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, plus a stout defence that may at least slow down the 49ers’

If there is an underdog narrative (in the classic sense) following the 49ers into the Super Bowl, it stars their quarterback, 2022 Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy.

Purdy Relevant!

Of the main Skill players on San Francisco’s offense (McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Brock Purdy) only McCaffrey and Purdy were not on the team for Super Bowl 54. That year, San Francisco started Jimmy Garoppolo at QB, and Raheem Mostert was their primary back.

Despite what the naysayers will say about Brock Purdy, he is undoubtedly a positional upgrade compared to Garoppolo. In fact, several of Garoppolo’s glaring weaknesses are strengths of Purdy. Jimmy G had trouble with accuracy, while Purdy is one of the most accurate passers in the league. In the 2023 regular season, Purdy was top five in both passing yards and completion percentage, and finished second in QB Rating (behind only Steelers back up Mason Rudolph).

This playoffs, Purdy’s arm has been less impressive, and his stats don’t jump off the page – albeit, this is in just 2 games. That being said, Purdy has used his legs in key moments, and has shown a proficiency in shedding the pass-rush. It is hard to contend that Garoppolo’s mobility was even close to Purdy.

The miserable 4 interception performance that Purdy had against the Ravens this season left a stain on his reputation. Despite how far his team has gone, and the high bar they have had to jump over, commentators and critics of the 49ers tend to focus on what Brock Purdy cannot do, or who he is better and worse than. The conversation around Purdy being merely a product of his system might not be put to rest entirely with a Super Bowl win, but it would be a moot point. Championships are worth 1000 words and more.

For his sake, and the team’s, Shanahan should strive to operate a balanced run/pass offense, and utilize McCaffrey as much as possible. Purdy is great, but McCaffrey is on another level, and will arguably be the most dangerous player on either sideline next week.

The Defence

Speaking of danger, the 49ers defense is nothing to sneeze at in that regard. They struggled against a dynamic Detroit running game, especially in the first half. In the second half, they did enough to come away with a win. While former 2nd overall pick edge-rusher Chase Young, has disappointed in his brief tenure with the team. A couple other defensive lineman in Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead have elevated their games this postseason, and will surely be a threat to a battered Chiefs O-Line.

The Chiefs have a weapon out of the backfield in Isaiah Pacheco, who is ascending as one of the premier power rushers in the NFL. They will look to involve him early, so star linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw will be vital in terms of preventing big plays.

One of the unsung heroes of San Francisco’s defense is cornerback Charvarius Ward. Ward, who was named All-Pro for the first time this season, used to play for the Chiefs, and was on the team that beat San Francisco four years ago. Ward has come into his own since then, becoming the most dependable coverage player on the 49ers. He will most likely be tasked to guard Travis Kelce, if not, Rashee Rice – both of whom are a handful.

Final Thoughts

Most football fans are not too surprised to see the 49ers and Chiefs square off in the big dance. It will be a clash of the Titans, but that is not to say this game is a guaranteed nail-biter. Both squads are immensely talented, but are susceptible to a bad day at the office. Expect there to be some feeling out at the beginning of the game, as opposed to a bunch of explosive plays.

The 49ers have all of the ingredients to win a championship this year. General manager John Lynch pushed his cards into the table, signing and trading for big names over the past couple of seasons. For veteran 49ers players, victory against the Chiefs would be extra sweet.

The 2023/2024 iteration of the 49ers are more dangerous than the 2019/2020 group. Does this mean they will fare better than the dynastic Chiefs? Not necessarily, but if they do, Purdy and McCaffrey will have to be very responsible for it.

Make sure you check out our article on the Chiefs heading into the Super Bowl as well, Click here!