The Chiefs and the 49ers are set to square off in Super Bowl 54. All year, Kansas City and San Francisco were clearly the two best teams in their respective conferences, which makes the matchup all the more intriguing.
Since the 49ers completed their run to the Super Bowl, the conversation amongst Denver fans and media has been in regards San Francisco’s head coach, Kyle Shanahan. Many in Broncos Country feel that Shanahan should have been hired in 2017 instead of Vance Joseph.
I think we all agree that should have happened. Shanahan is the best play caller in the NFL and is the son of Mike Shanahan, the greatest coach the history of the Broncos organization.
A 49ers win on Super Bowl Sunday could reveal the decision to not hire Shanahan could have longer lasting effects than most realize.
The showdown between the 49ers and Chiefs should look very familiar to Broncos fans. A high-powered offense backed by the most-exciting quarterback in the league taking on a prolific running offense that is able to control games at their own discretion.
You could easily describe Super Bowl 32 the same way.
In Super Bowl 32, the Broncos played Brett Favre and the Packers. The Packers had been the hottest team in the league for three consecutive seasons. Favre was capping off his third MVP season in a row.
The Packers were a two-touchdown favorite heading into the game. On their opening possession, Favre went right down the field and hit wide receiver Antonio Freeman in the back of the end zone. Right away, it looked like the rout was on.
To that point, the Broncos were 0-4 in Super Bowls and they had been blown out all four times. After the early Packers touchdown, it looked like history was about to repeat itself.
History would not repeat itself. The Broncos responded with a four-minute drive that ended in a Terrell Davis touchdown. From that point on, the Broncos never trailed the Packers on the scoreboard. The Mike Shanahan running attack, combined with turnovers created by the defense, allowed the Broncos to slowly wear down and defeat the heavily favored Packers.
As mesmerizing as Patrick Mahomes can be, much like Favre and the Packers in 1997, the Chiefs are beatable. The 49ers run the same offensive scheme as the 1997 Broncos and similarly have an opportunistic defense. They also have a Shanahan coaching the team.
Shanahan knows how to beat the Chiefs. Kyle learned from his dad, Mike. He was on the sidelines when the Broncos beat the Packers in Super Bowl 32. On the other sideline was then Packers assistant and current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
What makes Mike and Kyle Shanahan so special is they’re not afraid to coach against anybody.
The 1997 Packers looked like they were going to be the next great dynasty. The Packers had won Super Bowl 31 in 1996 and believed they would win Super Bowl 32. Mike Shanahan stopped them dead in their tracks. Brett Favre never again played in a Super Bowl.
As powerful as the Mahomes offense looks in Kansas City, one crushing loss can change the mentality of a franchise. At the conclusion of Super Bowl 54, the decision to not hire Kyle Shanahan could potentially look much worse than it already does.
In his season-ending press conference, John Elway, referenced the Chiefs. Elway twice pointed out that to be successful the Broncos have to be able to compete with the Chiefs.
The Broncos have not beaten the Chiefs since Week 2 of the 2015 season. This past season, the Broncos looked as if they didn’t belong on the same field as their rival from Kansas City. Reid severely outcoached Vic Fangio.
The prospect of playing Mahomes for the next 15 years is troubling to Broncos fans. Many wonder if the Broncos will be able to beat or even compete with the Chiefs.
If Kyle Shanahan is able to defeat the Chiefs, the Broncos front office should feel sick. They will have to realize the man to beat the Chiefs was in their building and they let him walk.
Not hiring Kyle Shanahan could cost the Broncos more than just one great Super Bowl run. It could cost them a decade-and-a-half of success within their own division.
Broncos Country is no doubt cheering for the 49ers to lay a beating on the Chiefs this Sunday. I know I’ll be thrilled if that happens. At the same time, I’ll feel a pit in my stomach knowing this success could have been in Denver for years to come.