It all came down to this. With one game left in the 2023 NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers met in the Super Bowl with the right to raise the Lombardi Trophy. With a lot on the line, and with two passionate fan bases eager for a win, the action on the field provided a proper exclamation point on a great season with a hard-fought defensive battle.
With Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs looking to solidify their dynasty while Brock Purdy and the 49ers looked to prove their legitimacy, the NFL world was treated with a tightly contested Super Bowl matchup. What are the instant observations and key takeaways from the Super Bowl matchup between the Chiefs and 49ers?
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers Instant Observations
49ers Dominate First Half
While the score didn’t indicate it, with it just being 10-3 at the break, it was hard to watch the first 30 minutes of football and not come away thinking the 49ers were in full control.
Even with Christian McCaffrey’s fumble on the opening drive it still felt like their offense was able to take what they liked in their usual manner. Quality chunk plays on the ground, well-timed play action shots, and smart decision-making from Purdy all look too familiar in the season’s biggest game.
That feeling carried over to defense as well where guys like Randy Gregory and Chase Young stepped up in the moment and helped provide a relentless pass rush. Instead of the Chiefs looking like the team that gotten used to the atmosphere, it was Kyle Shanahan and his team that were the poised ones.
Frustration Evident Early for Chiefs
Whether it was Travis Kelce screaming to Andy Reid or Chris Jones rallying the troops for a vibe check, it was clear the Chiefs were out of their groove in the first half — and the score reflected it as they went into the half down 10-3.
A team that has had to battle adversity all season long continued that trend early in this one as they once again found themselves with a one-possession deficit at the intermission.
Special Teams Miscue Gives Chiefs Life — 49ers Respond
For almost three full quarters, the 49ers controlled the pace of the game and the score on the board. That is until one special teams fumble by Ray-Ray McCloud III deep into their own side of the field changed the complexion of the game. The Chiefs capitalized on the very next play for their first lead of the game to go up 13-10.
When facing Mahomes you have to put him away without giving him new life — unfortunately for the 49ers, they let him rise from the ashes to flip the script. In a game so tightly fought, and a defensive strugglefest, it’s the type of mistake that comes back to haunt you in most cases.
However, the 49ers, aided by a 4th-and-3 pick up to George Kittle, were able to drive down the field and respond with a touchdown drive capped off by Jauan Jennings to go back up 16-13.
Jauan Jennings Rose to the Occasion
Speaking of Jennings, nobody shined brighter than the 49ers WR in this one. He threw a touchdown pass, caught one, and continued to be a menace with his willingness to block.
While the game was littered with stars all over the field, it was a depth WR for the 49ers who made his presence felt all night long.
Patrick Mahomes Is in Every Conversation
Whenever you talk about Mahomes you need to talk with respect. The Chiefs QB is among the greatest to ever do it, and his ability to take this version of a Chiefs team to a title is nothing short of miraculous.
He has a long time to go before he can surpass Tom Brady and his seven rings, but who is betting against him right now?
Instant Classic Super Bowl — Chiefs Finish the Job
Free football in the Super Bowl — what can be better than that? The two best teams in football provided us with a legendary finale filled with back-and-forth drama.
The 49ers spent most of the game looking like the superior team only to give Mahomes life and too much time to tie the game in regulation. As the ebbs and flows of the game ensued, what unfolded before our eyes was a game that will be talked about for a lifetime and secured the Chiefs a Super Bowl title.
The matchup secured a legacy for the Chiefs and completed a back-to-back title quest cementing Mahomes amongst the greatest to ever do it along with teammate Travis Kelce.
As the 2023 NFL season comes to a close, the 2024 NFL Draft is on the horizon. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!