It’s a shame chili isn’t a breakfast food, because I’m looking forward to chowing down on leftovers at some point today. Will someone let me know what’s the earliest this won’t be frowned upon?
- Super Bowl 54 is set with the 49ers representing the NFC and Chiefs emerging from the AFC as champions. Don’t you feel as if these are the two best teams in football? Sometimes you don’t get that in a Super Bowl matchup. There are years when plucky underdogs come out of nowhere with a Cinderella run that ends just in time to get squashed under the brightest lights. Other years, you get a team that ‘s great, but limps to the finish line. Both of these teams were part of the upper crust of pro football and look to be healthy going into the big one. That feels like a good baseline for a good Super Bowl — one that figures to be far more enjoyable than one that would have featured the Packers.
Chicago watching Aaron Rodgers walk to his couch on February 2nd.
— Elias Schuster (@Schuster_Elias) January 20, 2020
- There were so many guys with area ties that — even if the 49ers weren’t playing the Packers on Sunday — it would have been easy to pull for San Francisco. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (Rolling Meadows, Eastern Illinois) and Robbie Gould (ex-Bear and long-time Chicagoland resident) are the obvious guys, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jimmie Ward played his college ball at Northern Illinois. Running back Tevin Coleman (Oak Forest, Ill.) grew up just outside the reaches of Chicago’s city limits. Offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson attended Lane Tech (which also happens to be where I went to high school). But my favorite connection might have been running back Raheem Mostert.
- Mostert played 17 special teams snaps over the span of two games for the 2016 Bears, so it’s not as if his time was memorable in Chicago. But his path to NFC Championship Game glory was special. Mostert previously spent time in Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, New York (with the Jets), and Chicago before landing in San Francisco. The Purdue product didn’t even get his first carry until joining the 49ers. Mostert’s run to this moment is a story of perseverance, and how can you not respect a story like that? Football fans will remember Mostert’s franchise playoff record 220-yard, four-touchdown performance — even if it represents just a blip or an outlier in what has otherwise been a journeyman career. Because that is the magic of sports.
- And you’ve gotta admit that it’s pretty funny that two ex-Bears accounted for all of the 49ers’ scoring against the Packers on Sunday.
- What’s not funny: The 49ers ran it as many times in one game (42) against the Packers as the Bears did (42) in both of their games against the Packers combined. Who knew that running the ball against a team that ranked in the bottom third of the league in rushing yards allowed, yards per attempt, and rushing scores could be picked apart like that?
- Jimmy Garoppolo threw eight passes on Sunday. EIGHT. The 49ers hid their quarterback in the biggest game of the year … and it worked. Because – more than anything – game-planning to win is far more important than scheming to show how much you learned from your mentor.
- What was your favorite Mostert TD run? Mine was the one where wide receiver Deebo Samuel served as the lead blocker:
— PFF (@PFF) January 20, 2020
- That little action set up this run for Samuel later in the game:
- This is what happens when play-calling doesn’t look disjointed.
- The 49ers defense deserves some credit, too:
- Elsewhere on defense, KC was laying out the boom-stick:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 19, 2020
- Patrick Mahomes is a magician and there are nine teams who passed on him in the 2017 NFL Draft who probably wish he was their team’s quarterback:
THIS. RUN. pic.twitter.com/bEIN0rjqf9
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 19, 2020
- Mahomes now has four playoff games under his belt and has some enviable numbers: 1,188 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a 115.0 passer rating. His teams have scored at least 31 points in each of Mahomes’ four playoff starts, and he has thrown at least three touchdowns in each of his last three games. We’re watching some darn good quarterbacking, folks.
- There are so many story lines I want to dive into, and I figure the bye week should allow me ample opportunity to tackle them as they come.
- As for the Bears? Well, they’ve got some work to do.
- Over at Da Bears Blog, Jeff Hughes has a rundown of what has been a productive offseason to this point:
Piled a lot of stuff into this (short) piece.
– What the Castillo hire means.
– What went wrong with the Shurmur deal.
– Flip’s impact on the QB room.
– Is that new QB room pro-Trubisky?
– A few team self evaluations.https://t.co/QOdjKrCdQ0
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) January 20, 2020
- The hiring of Juan Castillo was much about his impact as an offensive line coach as it was about getting the run game in order. Hughes describes the Mark Helfrich-Harry Hiestand run-game as “disjointed and wildly ineffective” … and that feels accurate. Shifting away from an RPO-based rush attack makes sense, especially since the quarterback proved time and again that he wasn’t making the right calls at the right times.
- Hughes goes into how close the Bears came to hiring Pat Shurmur, what John DeFilippo brings to the Bears as a quarterbacks coach, how a re-worked offensive coaching staff will deal with the quarterbacks room, and more. Clear some time in your schedule to give it a read.
- Good deals today at Amazon, including phones, protein bars, and messenger bags. #ad