Adapted from “Crain & Co.,” February 12, 2024.
Jake Crain: It was an ugly game early. When there is a postseason format — where it’s sudden death or whether it’s win or go home and whether that be March Madness, the NFL playoffs, or college baseball and the Regionals — it’s the teams that can win in the most ways that are able to not only survive, but thrive. If you go back and watch every game the Chiefs played in the playoffs, they won each one a different way, but they won each game as a team.
Your defense may not play well for four quarters, but they need to play well when it counts. Your special teams may not play well for a half, but they have got to play well when it counts in the second half. And the Chiefs did not make the devastating mistakes that the 49ers made at the end of the game. It just goes to show that a winning culture and a winning DNA is a real thing.
I thought the Chiefs were going to win this game the whole time — because they’ve proven it. But I think the main thing you can take away from this is most teams lose games. They do not win them, even the elite teams.
David Cone: That’s why we said coming in, it’s not just enough against a generational talent like Patrick Mahomes to just come in and shut down the run. It seemed like the Chiefs could win this game if they rushed for zero yards. While yes, the yards would be nice to have, it was not going to be enough to just come in and say, “Oh, you know what, let’s just shut down Travis Kelce,” because the last couple of weeks, Patrick Mahomes hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a few huge plays and Clyde Edwards-Helaire on some big plays too. He’s just proven that he can do that time and time again, especially in the post-season and down the stretch all the way.
Even in the fourth quarter and overtime, it felt like if the 49ers allowed free release and zone coverage, then Mahomes was just going to take that all day on the outside — hitch routes, hook routes, all of that. But if the 49ers got up and pressed, even in two man, then Mahomes was just going to have a field day with the mesh concepts, which he hit Kelce on. Then in overtime, press coverage, he took off with his legs and got huge first downs with his feet. So, he was going to get you coming or going down the stretch of the game.
Jake Crain: A lot of people will look at that dropped punt that the Chiefs recovered and say that was the mistake that cost them the game. But do not forget, it is a fourth quarter game. The San Francisco 49ers got the ball first, and they were driving it right down the Chiefs’ throats. Christian McCaffrey fumbled inside the Red Zone to give the Chiefs the ball, and there were lost points there — plus a turnover on an interception from Patrick Mahomes right out of the gate in the second half at midfield and they were not able to turn that into any points. Those are the things, outside of the blatantly obvious, that cost you games against a guy like Patrick Mahomes. You nearly have to play perfectly.
Blain Crain: There were a couple of drives Kyle Shanahan didn’t run the ball one time. He had the most success in this game leaning on Christian McCaffrey. He had two full drives when the momentum was with him when he didn’t run the ball one time with McCaffrey, the best player he had.
The big key to me in this game was when it all changed. At halftime, the 49ers were winning in every aspect, in my opinion. Who had one reception at halftime? Travis Kelce. What happened? In the second half, the guy had 80 yards through the air. Patrick Mahomes goes when Travis Kelce goes.
I think losing Dre Greenlaw was huge for the 49ers — he and Fred Warner are the best linebackers in the league. But the big thing in this game is Patrick Mahomes is Patrick Mahomes. I picked the Chiefs every game in the playoffs. Every game. Not because I wanted to, but because I knew that though they can be atrocious in the regular season — at times they were and their offense was extremely bad — but when it matters most, when there’s a guy in the corner open for the three and it’s Patrick Mahomes, it’s going in. He is going to make the shot. Then you add Andy Reid and Travis Kelce. There are not any huge names that made the difference for the Chiefs. Just the Chiefs made the difference.
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Jake Crain is co-host of Crain & Company, the Daily Wire’s sports show hosted by former athletes and coaches Jake Crain, Blain Crain, and David Cone. Follow him: @JakeCrain_
Blain Crain is co-host of Crain & Company at The Daily Wire and a former wide receiver for Western Colorado University. Follow Blain: @Blain_Crain
David Cone is a co-host and producer of the Daily Wire’s sports show Crain & Company, as well as a contributor to Morning Wire. David is also a former quarterback for the University of Michigan. Follow him: @davidadamcone