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)

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

file
Oak Bay resident bilked $3,300 in puppy scam

Three cases of fraud reported in two days

Sidney’s Star Cinema has temporarily closed as part of efforts to COVID-19. (Black Press Media File).
Sidney’s Star Cinema temporarily goes dark

Closure reflects provincial health order in effect until Dec. 7

Victoria police are asking for help locating Jordan Doddridge who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VicPD seek help locating man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Jordan Doddridge has an extensive criminal history including violent offences

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria dine and dash brings $230 fine

Group paid the bill, police locate suspect who violated provincial restrictions, mistreated staff

Central Saanich Police impounded two vehicles in less than hours for excessive spending Monday evening and Tuesday morning, handing out $1,185 and 15 points in total fines during some nine hours. Both incidents happened at intersection of Highway 17 and Island View Road. (Central Saanich Police/Twitter)
Central Saanich police hand out almost $1,200 in excessive speeding fines

One driver received 12, the other driver three points

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Most Read