NFL playoffs: 3 lessons SF 49ers can learn from Chiefs, Buccaneers

Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

SF 49ers lesson No. 1: Elite quarterbacking matters

Having an impact pass-rusher is awfully important. But those roster pieces are merely supplementary in nature, whereas an elite-level quarterback is almost a necessity in today’s NFL to get to the Super Bowl.

Sure, defensively elite teams can make the big game from time to time, but doing so consistently is exceptionally difficult given the ever-changing turnover defenses face on a year-to-year basis.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

While there were defensive studs for both the Chiefs and Buccaneers, the ultimate credit is going to go to their two quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, respectively.

It’s not just the name recognition either. Sure, Brady’s three interceptions thrown against the Packers weren’t great. But he more than made up for it with key drives and scores, none less than the one at the end of the first half with mere seconds remaining.

Mahomes, meanwhile, remains superhuman. And while it would be easy to point out all his big-play moments, Niners Nation’s Kyle Posey pointed out one key aspect Mahomes displayed on Sunday with regards to Kansas City’s offensive line:

"You’re going to get pressured. As a quarterback, you have to have a guy who can beat pressure. We’ve seen it all playoffs. You’d have no idea that the Chiefs were starting their fourth-string right guard and tackle and their second-string left guard. Mahomes kept making play after play. It’s unrealistic to expect your offensive line to give your quarterback a clean pocket 80% of the time. You need a playmaker under center to win in today’s NFL. Before you say 13-3/Super Bowl, I’m talking about the process and not the results. Does San Francisco have a playmaker at QB on the roster?"

Elite quarterbacking goes far beyond making clutch passes. It’s also much about managing pressure, and the SF 49ers have struggled with that among their quarterbacks for some time now.

Power ranking all 9 playoff quarterbacks in 49ers history. dark. Next

And one can only wonder, given some of the Niners’ pass-protection woes from last season, if an elite quarterback who can sense and respond to pressure well enough would have fared much better than the on-field results seen during the regular season.