Each week in NFL, head coaches speak highly of their upcoming opponent on the Wednesday before the game. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wears the crown for heaping praise. For example, Belichick went on a seven-minute rant about how good the Chicago Bears were yesterday.
Sometimes, these coaches are telling the truth. Like when 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke about the Chiefs' dynamic duo, Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, he said it with so much conviction you couldn’t help but believe him. Here’s Shanahan on what makes the Chiefs and Mahomes different than other opponents:
“Just because you don’t ever see people play like that, really. There’s not many people in the history of football as good as him. Reminds me of [Hall of Fame QB John] Elway a ton watching him.
Just how he’s a top thrower on the planet and the way he can move. He’s not always doing it just with a flat out 40 just running away from people, but the way he feels space and can create time, and as he does it, his vision down the field with that arm talent is tough to deal with.”
Mahomes' escapability in a pocket after being forced to run for his life is one of the most valuable traits the superstar quarterback possesses. Mahomes has 97 rushing yards on scrambles this season, including at least 20 years in each of the past five games, with at least one ten-yard rush in each of those games. So, Mahomes is adding at least one first down, or an extra possession, to each game via his legs.
The 49ers' defense must do a better job this week of containing Mahomes. It’s a catch-22, though. You want to have eyes on the quarterback, so zone coverage. But you don’t want to give him time to sit back and read a defense.
You also want to make their receivers not named Travis Kelce beat you, but if you play man coverage, you risk giving up easy yards on the ground to the quarterback. That’s why Buffalo, a team that plays sound defense with a good pass rush, gave the Chiefs fits. Look for the Niners to mimic the Bills' blueprint Sunday.