The San Francisco 49ers are extremely fortunate to find themselves in a position to win the franchise's sixth title.
The Niners escaped valiant efforts put forth by the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, respectively, in the previous two rounds of the postseason.
However, if they expect to finally stick it to quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers must break their usual tendencies.
When the Niners have been dominating as one of the most potent offenses this season, it's been when they have started games fast and furious while scoring frequently.
However, that hasn't been the case during this year's playoff run. In the divisional round versus Green Bay, San Francisco struggled to find offense and didn't score until the second quarter. For a team that averaged almost 30 points per game this season, the Niners still fell victim to the dreaded slow-start syndrome. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is known for being one of the best opening-game script writers, which is why it's so mind boggling to see the offense sputter out of the gate.
Most negative plays can be attributed to self-inflicting wounds such as demoralizing penalties, blown assignments or poor execution.
Whatever the case be, San Francisco must get off to a fast start and stay consistent throughout the game.
49ers must avoid the slow-start pitfall in Super Bowl 58
While quarterback Brock Purdy and the offense have garnered much of the praise this year (and rightfully so), it's the defense that seems to have taken an uncharacteristic step back and now bare the brunt of the blame. During their first two playoff matchups this season, the Niners found themselves on the ropes in both contests. Versus the Packers, San Francisco gave up 108 rushing yards to running back Aaron Jones.
It's such a pivotal stat since the Niners haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in approximately 50 games.
The following week against the Lions in the NFC Championship game, had more of the same ugly issues that have plagued the 49ers all season long. Gap control amongst the front-four continues to be a lingering concern and with the array of talent invested in that group, expectations are higher than ever. The great thing about having such a loaded roster full of humble leaders is communication becomes fluid and transparent.
It truly helps the cause when the coaching staff is equally as gifted in the areas of adaptation and flexibility.
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has faced his fair share of scrutiny due to a few underwhelming performances from that side of the ball. Fortunately, he's been able to steady the ship thanks in large part to his willingness to adapt and adjust their game plan on the fly. This will be a vital component in determining the winner come Super Bowl Sunday, because if the Niners struggle early, there may not be a ton of chances for Wilks and his unit to get it right.
Speaking of getting things right, let's hope this time around the football gods will reward San Francisco for its stellar season. The 49ers have been one of the better teams all year long and have a bunch of statistical accolades to further back those claims.
Aside from a weird three-game losing streak earlier, and a Christmas night dud, the Niners have been riding a steady hand of success, including a deadly offense that boasted four1000-yard offensive players: Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle
A special season indeed but the job's not done!
The Chiefs have quickly become a thorn in Shanahan's side as he is 0-3 when facing them since 2017.
But there's no better time than the present for Shanahan to correct some of the wrongs from years past, and if he's able to do that, it'll be a glorious day by the Bay!