In doing so, the 49ers will put their explosive offense to the test against a Chiefs team that has just found a way to win football games, no matter how pretty or ugly they look.
Now, in order to complete their final goal of winning a Super Bowl, the 49ers’ defense will need to produce better results than what they’ve showcased over the past two weeks, specifically in the first half.
However, it’s not only the defense that needs some changes; the 49ers also need to start capitalizing on their offensive opportunities, especially in the first half.
In both of their playoff games this season, the 49ers have come out slow, scoring just seven first-half points while allowing their opponents to take advantage and control the pace of the game.
By allowing multiple 10+ play drives in the first half of both games, San Francisco saw their offense sitting on the sidelines more often than not, limiting their opportunities to be explosive and score points early on.
However, even when the 49ers got the ball, the results weren’t always great, as the 49ers missed a field goal in the first half of both games, losing a potential scoring chance.
Now, both field goal chances showcased two different issues for the offense: the inability to score touchdowns early and the lack of confidence in kicker Jake Moody, who has missed field goals in three consecutive weeks now, dating back to the regular season.
Both issues have cost the 49ers offensively, as they’ve struggled to capitalize on their opportunities early, and that cannot happen against the Chiefs, who thrive by controlling the game script after taking a quick lead.
Over the past few seasons, the Chiefs have proven on countless occasions that they have the ability to come back and win, finding ways to control the pace of the game even when the score isn’t in their favor.
But, it’s when the Chiefs start out strong and take an early lead that they’re truly the most dangerous, and the playoffs have showcased that.
Against the Miami Dolphins, a quick start had the Chiefs winning from the opening drive and they never relinquished the lead after an early touchdown, controlling the pace of the game and taking the Dolphins out of their comfort zone.
Then, against the Baltimore Ravens, after an opening-drive touchdown, it felt the same way, even as the Ravens managed to maintain a one-possession deficit. After struggling to keep up in the first half, Baltimore couldn’t do enough offensively to generate any momentum, leading to a surprising AFC Championship Game loss.
For the 49ers, the formula is clear: they need a quick start to avoid losing control of the game, which means capitalizing on opportunities in the first half offensively.
They cannot afford to miss field goals once again, which has set them back in consecutive weeks, while an early turnover would be equally as consequential as well.