It may be overstating it to say that the San Francisco 49ers absolutely have to dominate on the ground to win Super Bowl 54 over the Kansas City Chiefs. But there is no question that if they are stopped cold, it is going to be a major impediment to victory.
When you look at the way San Francisco steamrolled over Minnesota and Green Bay in the playoffs, you have to think positive. The Niners execute their zone-blocking schemes with near-perfection. And it makes sense, because the guy behind it is Kyle Shanahan. If you remember his father Mike, he turned a lot of low draft picks and undrafted players into star backs. And the 49ers have a couple of “no-names” who can make an impact on running plays.
It is well worth it to take a look at some of these players, because they will figure heavily into the outcome. Remember that the Super Bowl takes place on Sunday at 6:30 PM ET at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. And while Fox televises it, BetAnySports customers can place wagers in real-time using the software from Sports Betting Ultra.
Here is the line on the game:
Super Bowl LIV: Chiefs vs. 49ers Betting Odds
|49ers||+1 (-110)||54½ (-110)||EV|
|Chiefs||-1 (-110)||54½ (-110)||-120|
Now let’s take a look at those running backs:
Over 16.5 rushing attempts -140
Under 16.5 rushing attempts +120
Very few people had heard of him prior to the 2019 season. But he’s the guy you have to start with. This is a true journeyman, playing with his sixth different NFL team. And as such, he is a “Shanahan special.” During the regular season he had 151 touches for 952 yards. And he really knows how to find the end zone, with ten touchdowns. He did not necessarily play a starring role against Minnesota in the playoffs. Tevin Coleman topped the 100-yard mark in that one. But against Green Bay, when Coleman was hurt, Mostert really took over. He had 29 carries for 220 yards, and he enabled quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to win the game despite throwing just eight times.
What Mostert did constituted a 49er record for a single game, and it was the second-highest rushing total in playoff history. It is likely that Mostert will carry much of the load again, as Coleman might be slowed with a shoulder injury. On the season, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry. But he was not much of a threat in the air game, catching only 14 passes.
This guy was undrafted out of Georgia Southern. And in case you’re not familiar with that school, they don’t exactly run a pro-style offense. But last year, when San Francisco suffered a lot of injuries among its running backs, he was absolutely essential. Breida averaged 5.3 yards per carry for a team that had to go with out Jimmy Garoppolo, who tore his ACL.
This season, Breida had 623 yards on the ground with a 5.1-yard average. He only caught 19 passes, but his “catch rate” was 86.4%. So when they do run a play like that for him, or he’s a checkdown, he’s reliable. But a funny thing has happened. Breida seems to have been gradually phased out of the offense. We don’t know if it’s a lack of confidence on the part of Shanahan, but he was only in the game for two snaps against the Packers in the NFC title game. Depending on how Coleman responds with a shoulder injury, Breida might play a bigger role.
Here’s the real “wild card” in the mix. Shanahan always wants to have one of those “dual-purpose” backs at his disposal. And when he took over the job in San Francisco, he had high hopes for Jerick McKinnon, the former Viking. But McKinnon couldn’t seem to stay healthy. So perhaps as an insurance policy, Shanahan reached out to Coleman, who had been one of his backs when he was offensive coordinator in Atlanta. In 2018, Coleman topped the 1000-yard plateau in all-purpose yards for the Falcons. And he fit nicely into the San Francisco backfield. He put together 544 yards on the ground and caught 21 passes. He is not the guy you want to give the ball to on every play. In fact, in his 105-yard effort against Minnesota in the Divisional round, he had 22 carries. And that was a career-high for him.
He suffered a dislocated shoulder against Green Bay, and has mostly been limited in practice sessions. Shanahan had been adopting a “wait and see” attitude about his availability. Now it appears he is expected to play. However, we don’t know how much of a factor he’s going to be. If Shanahan continues to limit Breida’s participation, it would help if he had a second option.
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