Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 35-24 to advance to Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

A little more than two years ago, a pair of teams gambled on quarterbacks who had all kinds of potential but were far from a sure thing.

Both teams guessed right.

The Kansas City Chiefs will meet the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in Miami. Oddsmakers opened the line at pick ‘em in a title game featuring one franchise, the Niners, trying to win a record-tying sixth Lombardi Trophy against another, the Chiefs, making their first appearance in the big game in 50 years.

Their quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes (KC) and Jimmy Garoppolo (SF).

Mahomes, whose gaudy college stats (his 5,052 passing yards led the country in 2016) were a byproduct of playing at pass-happy Texas Tech, was generally viewed as no better than the second-best quarterback in a 2017 draft that wasn’t considered strong on quarterbacks to begin with.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid disagreed. He gave up a first-round pick in the following year’s draft to move up to select Mahomes in 2017. Now, in his third season, Mahomes is a Super Bowl quarterback. He has 11 post-season touchdown passes, not a single interception, and has even led the Chiefs in rushing the last two weeks. With its 35-24 win over Tennessee on Sunday in the AFC title game, Kansas City became the first team in NFL history to go from trailing by double digits to winning by double digits in consecutive playoff games.

“Everybody liked this guy,” Reid said, in 2017, about the reaction from the Kansas City front office and scouting department after they’d spent time with Mahomes in advance of the draft. “Everybody fell in love with the kid and how he went about his business and how he played. That’s not something that happens every year.”

Garoppolo, a second-round pick by the Patriots in 2014, was considered the quarterback-in-waiting in New England, despite a limited resume as Tom Brady’s backup. But with the Patriots not ready to part ways with their franchise cornerstone, and with Garoppolo’s contract running out, the quarterback became expendable. San Francisco acquired him in the middle of the 2017 season for a second-round pick.

Garoppolo won his first five starts in San Francisco and, before the season was out, he had a five-year contract extension that, at the time, included the highest average yearly salary in NFL history.

“When you find the right guy at that position, it’s really good for your franchise,” Niners GM John Lynch said, not long after the trade.

Though Garoppolo’s 102 passer rating this season was only 3.3 points less than Mahomes’, San Francisco doesn’t depend on its franchise QB the way Kansas City does.

Exhibit A: Garoppolo threw only eight passes and totalled only 77 yards in San Francisco’s 37-20 win over Green Bay in the NFC title game Sunday. He is helped by a bruising running game recently anchored by Raheem Mostert (220 yards and four TDs on Sunday). And the Niners have found a game-wrecking defensive end in rookie Nick Bosa. The second pick in the 2019 draft had a sack Sunday to go with the nine he recorded over the regular season to fuel a defence that gave up the fewest passing yards this season.

It all helped the 49ers return to the Super Bowl for the first time since Colin Kaepernick took them in 2013. The departure of coach Jim Harbaugh and Kaepernick’s kneeling saga ushered in a period of instability. It included a carousel of four head coaches in four years that finally settled when Kyle Shanahan — the son of two-time Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan — got the job in 2017 and soon was joined by Garoppolo.

READ MORE: Canadians won’t be able to see U.S.-based Super Bowl ads

But when it comes to Super Bowl droughts — outside of the Jets and a handful of teams who have never been, nobody has waited longer to get to the title game than the Chiefs.

The team that lost to Green Bay in the very first Super Bowl, returned three years after that, in 1970, to win its first NFL championship. The Chiefs had their ups and downs in the decades since. The stat that stuck out the most was their 3-8 home playoff record since that victory over the Vikings in 1970 that marked the last game before the NFL and its old rival, the AFL, officially merged and began playing as a single league the next season.

Now, in a season filled with celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the NFL, the Chiefs are back, coached by Reid, whose 14 post-season wins compiled over 20 seasons do not include a `W’ in the biggest game of all.

Could the quarterback he took a chance on — a nimble-footed, strong-armed, next-generation talent — be the one to finally put him over the top?

Garoppolo, to say nothing of San Francisco’s running game and its top-ranked pass defence, will have plenty to say about that two weeks from now.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

NFL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Alf Todd on a mission to fight Parkinson’s disease

Todd and group hope to raise $10,000 riding bikes to Port Alberni

Work begins on mural near Harbour Quay

Mural will depict the creation story of Tseshaht First Nation

Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

City of Port Alberni to move forward with ‘Quay to Quay’ pathway

Port Alberni city council has proposed connecting Victoria Quay to Harbour Quay

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Royal B.C. Museum wants B.C.’s COVID-19 nature observations

COVID-19 Collecting For Our Time: ongoing project cataloguing province’s pandemic experience

Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

For every dollar the province spends the federal government will match

Reimagined campaign continues to make Vancouver Island wishes come true

#UnWinedOutside allows participants to support Make-A-Wish Foundation, local businesses

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Most Read