Both teams are pretty formidable on both sides of the ball, but in this article, we take a look at where the game could be won or lost on defense.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The 49ers in the regular season were ranked second in the NFL in total defense conceding 281.8 yards per game, bettered only by the New England Patriots. They had the top passing defense (169.2 ypg), but they were susceptible to the run conceding 112.6 ypg which put them a below average 17th in the league.
In their two postseason games the 49ers have improved further still overall giving just 252.5 ypg which places them first in preseason play. Most of this improvement is down to a rush defense that has conceded only 41.5 ypg in the postseason.
The 49ers have consistently pressured the quarterback and lead the postseason with nine sacks after also recording 48 sacks in the regular season which put them tied fifth in the NFL.
After recording 12 interceptions in the regular season, the 49ers lead the way in playoff play with three so far.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa recorded a respectable nine sacks in his first NFL season and has brought his fine form into the postseason, recording three sacks so far. The second pick in the 2019 NFL Draft looks sure to take the Defensive Rookie of the Year award the night before Super Bowl 54.
Outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman will be looking for his second championship ring after winning Super Bowl 48 with the Seattle Seahawks. Sherman has two interceptions in the postseason so far.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Kansas City rank below the 49ers in most defensive categories in both regular and postseason play. Ranked 17th in overall defense giving 349.6 ypg, after two wild games in the playoffs against the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans this has increased to 368.5 yards per game in the postseason.
The Chiefs averaged 221.4 passing yards placing them eighth in the regular season. They are ninth out of the twelve playoff teams conceding 279 yards average in their two playoff games so far.
After ranking a lowly 26th against the run in the regular season (128.2 ypg) they are third in the postseason (89.5 ypg). The Chiefs will be hoping for more of the same play to contain the 49ers four-touchdown NFC championship game hero, Raheem Mostert.
Kansas City have shown they can also pressure the quarterback posting similar numbers of sacks to the 49ers. The Chiefs made 45 sacks in the regular season and eight in the postseason.
The Chiefs registered more interceptions (16) in the regular season than the 49ers (12), but have yet to pick off the ball so far this postseason.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Defensive end Chris Jones led the way in sacks with nine in the regular season but it is their other DE, Frank Clark who leads all NFL players in the postseason with four. These two bookends will be looking to make QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s first Super Bowl experience a bad one.
Strong safety, “Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu leads the Chiefs in interceptions in his first season in Kansas City with four.