Which means this: Something’s got to give on Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will meet in Super Bowl LIV, with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The game will be televised live in more than 180 countries and territories and will be broadcast live in almost 25 languages.
Kansas City, the AFC champion with its high-speed offensive attack, is a slight favorite. The Chiefs are in their first Super Bowl in 50 years, with their lone title coming in Super Bowl IV.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, last year’s league MVP, is looking to join Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady as the only quarterbacks to hoist a Lombardi Trophy before their 25th birthday. At 24 years and 138 days old on Sunday, Mahomes is the fifth-youngest quarterback to start in the Super Bowl.
Should Kansas City win, Mahomes will become the youngest player to win both an NFL MVP award and a Super Bowl title, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (24 years, 233 days old on the last day of his MVP 1993 season).
Mahomes has 75 touchdown passes and 9,238 passing yards in his first 30 career games, both the most by any player through his first 30 career games in NFL history. The Chiefs have scored at least 30 points in each of Mahomes’ first four career postseason starts.
“Obviously, we want to win it really bad for each other,” Mahomes said. “But we also want to win it for the city and the pride that they show through the ups and downs, the passion that they show every single time we’re in Arrowhead (Stadium in Kansas City). It really is amazing, and we want to make sure we can bring a trophy home to them.”
Garoppolo on Brady’s text: ‘Just go win’
The 49ers have five Super Bowl titles, which ties them for third among NFL teams. They can tie the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers for the most.
Expectations were high for San Francisco in 2018, but quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in the third game of the year as the 49ers limped to a 4-12 finish. Garoppolo went through an intense rehab and has thrived this season.
Garoppolo started all 16 regular-season games, completing 69.1% of his passes for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 102.0 passer rating — though notably in this postseason Garoppolo is just 17-27 for 208 yards with a touchdown and interception in two games.
Instead, their offensive production has come on the ground. Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards in the NFC championship game, the second-highest total in a postseason game, behind Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (248 yards for the Los Angeles Rams on January 4, 1986).
And San Francisco’s defense is flat out scary. Rookie defensive lineman Nick Bosa had three sacks in the 49ers’ first two postseason games, while cornerback Richard Sherman snagged an interception in both the divisional and championship rounds.
“I think attitude, confidence, whatever you want to call it, when you’re playing with that, I think it makes you tough to beat whether you’re the better team or not,” Garoppolo said. “Football is a crazy game. It’s not a seven-game series, so it’s not always the best team that wins. It’s who plays better that night.”
Garoppolo has two Super Bowl rings himself, from when he was Brady’s backup with the Patriots. Garoppolo told reporters this week that he received texts from Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick congratulating him for winning the NFC championship.
“It wasn’t too complicated or anything,” Garoppolo said of Brady’s text wishing him luck for Sunday. “Just go win.”
The 49ers are the third team to advance to a Super Bowl after winning four games or less the previous season, joining the 1999 St. Louis Rams (4-12 in 1998) and the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals (4-11 in 1987).
Shanahan on previous Super Bowl loss: ‘Don’t think there’s anything to run away from’
Both head coaches — Andy Reid of the Chiefs and Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers — have previously experienced Super Bowl heartbreak.
Reid has the most wins of all time as a head coach without winning a Super Bowl or NFL title. He lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX on February 6, 2005, when he was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
When he was asked if having not won a Super Bowl has kept him up at night at all, Reid — in his second Super Bowl appearance in 21-year coaching career — replied, “Life is bigger than that.”
The 61-year-old Kansas City head coach went on to say, “That doesn’t tell you that I don’t want to win. This is America, man. I’m in it to win. This is what we do. I don’t want that to be slighted. But I also understand and have a perspective of life. Maybe it’s my age now, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to work hard and coach hard.
“I’m going to swing to the best of my ability. I’m not going to tell you that there aren’t other things in life. I understand that, too.”
Shanahan is the 40-year-old son of two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan. They are the only father-son duo to each appear in a Super Bowl as a head coach in NFL history.
The days after the loss were really tough for Shanahan, who left Atlanta for the 49ers head coaching job after the season. But he has faced it head on.
“I don’t think there’s anything to run away from,” Shanahan said. “I’m very proud of that year. I was proud of our team in Atlanta. I was very proud of our players.
“I thought we played a pretty darn good game. … We all know that we did not play well in the fourth and didn’t coach well. But to sit here and run from something that, I’m not going to run from that. … I understand perception-wise how much I had to take of that, but I think I can deal with that, and I’ve been able to. …
“I think it was harder for people who love me, like my wife and family members because they’re very defensive of it and things like that.
“I was involved in the game. I know exactly what happened on every single play and I know I can live with that. … Maybe a play or so I would call differently, but I would do it all over again and feel a lot stronger and better from it.”