Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City will try to lead the Chiefs to victory at San Francisco
Washington (AFP) - Patrick Mahomes leads the Kansas City Chiefs against San Francisco on Sunday in a rematch of his 2020 Super Bowl victory in a showdown of NFL division leaders.
The 27-year-old quarterback directs the NFL’s highest-scoring offensive unit against a 49ers side that allows the fewest yards and second-fewest points in the league.
“They are still a great football team,” Mahomes said Wednesday. “A lot of that team is still there and they have gotten better and better. So I understand it’s going to be a challenge because I’ve played against them before and know how many great players they have on that defense.”
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t forgotten the masterful play of Super Bowl 54 Most Valuable Player Mahomes, whose 17 touchdown passes this year include 15 from 20 yards or fewer and only four to wide receivers.
“There are not many people in the history of football as good as him,” Shanahan said. “He’s a top thrower on the planet. And the way he can move. He’s not always doing it with a flat-out (sprint), just running away from people, but the way he fills space and creates time.”
At 4-2, the Chiefs sit atop the AFC West division while the 49ers, 3-3, top Atlanta and the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West thanks to a 2-0 mark in division games.
The Chiefs produce the most touchdowns of any NFL team when they get inside an opponent’s 20-yard line.
“We definitely have to be on alert for that,” 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw said.
If the 49ers can hold Kansas City to field goals after deep drives, it could be pivotal.
“We talked about that,” Niners defensive end Nick Bosa said. “That definitely could be a big turning point in the game, if we are able to keep them from getting seven.”
This season, the 49ers rank 13th at stopping teams that get inside their 20, with foes converting such trips into touchdowns 54% of the time.
Mahomes rallied the Chiefs with two touchdowns to beat the 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl 54, a film Shanahan rewatched to analyze how to stop a repeat.
“I don’t like watching it. But this week wasn’t about that. I watched it for schematic reasons,” Shanahan said. “When you do stop stuff, that’s usually just when the play gets started. That’s why they’ve been consistently good.”
A top target for Mahomes is Travis Kelce, whose seven touchdown receptions this year include six from inside 10 yards.
The 49ers hope to prove they belong among the NFL’s top teams even after quarterback Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury in week two and was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo, a starter for most of the past three seasons.
“We’re right there with everyone else. Most of this league is pretty close to the same spot,” Shanahan said. “A couple of teams are ahead of everyone, a couple behind everyone. We have as good a chance as anyone in this league.”
- Unbeaten Eagles idle -
Four division leaders are off this week – the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (6-0), defending champion Rams, Buffalo Bills (5-1) and Minnesota Vikings (5-1).
The only team among the NFL’s four clubs with the best record to take the field this weekend is the New York Giants, who carry a 5-1 mark to Jacksonville (2-4).
The only game this week between teams with winning records sends Indianapolis (3-2 with a tie) to Tennessee (3-2).
Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returns after missing two games with a concussion when the Dolphins host Pittsburgh.
Sunday’s other contests include Cleveland at Baltimore, Tampa Bay at Carolina, Atlanta at Cincinnati, Detroit at Dallas, Green Bay at Washington, the New York Jets at Denver, Houston at Las Vegas and Seattle at the Los Angeles Chargers. Chicago will visit New England on Monday.