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

Nimpkish sold as Northern Sea Wolf resumes central coast route

The sale of the Nimpkish was official as of Sept. 20, 2020

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

Cariboo’s Strongest tests athletes’ mettle

Twenty men and three women took part

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Most Read