No. 4: Chiefs Stopped the Titans Run Game, but 49ers Are Different
A big narrative surrounding the clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game was whether or not Kansas City could stop running back Derrick Henry. Henry tore through both the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens during the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Well, the Chiefs did just that, holding Henry to 69 yards on 19 carries, good for an average of just 3.6 yards per attempt.
That bodes well for a Kansas City defense that allowed opponents to run for an average of 4.9 yards per carry during the regular season—29th in the NFL. One figures defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will want to shut down a 49ers rush attack that has a combined 471 rush yards through two postseason games.
The thing is: The Niners are built much better on offense than Tennessee. Shutting down Henry meant the Titans offense had to center more on quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his limited array of pass-catching weapons, led by a rookie wide receiver in A.J. Brown.
San Francisco, meanwhile, is better equipped to handle an opponent taking away the run, thanks largely to the field-stretching prowess of wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders, combined with the yards-after-the-catch potency of tight end George Kittle.
Simply put: Jimmy Garoppolo has far more weapons at his disposal than Tannehill, meaning the 49ers won’t be stymied simply by taking away their rushing attack.