49ers receivers' stats starkly contrast with Saints' Michael Thomas


49ers receivers' stats starkly contrast with Saints' Michael Thomas

The 49ers haven't seen a wide receiver like Michael Thomas in 2019.

The New Orleans Saints star leads the NFL in receptions (110) and receiving yards (1,290), ranking fifth in the league in yards per touch (11.5). Catching passes from an all-time great in Drew Brees and playing half of your games in the comfort of the Superdome helps, but Thomas' prolificacy is stark when contrasted with the 49ers' wide-receiving corps, as Pro Football Focus' Jeff Denney noted Monday. 

A full season with Emmanuel Sanders in the fold surely would've made the aforementioned gap bigger. Plus, the 49ers rely on a tight end for much of their receiving production. George Kittle leads the team in targets (67), receptions (54) and receiving yards (687), ranking no worse than eighth among NFL tight ends in those categories. 

Still, Thomas is something else. Kittle and 49ers rookie receiver Deebo Samuel have combined for 1,251 receiving yards, or 39 fewer than Thomas has on his own. Brees and Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater remarkably have thrown to Thomas on over 30 percent of their throws this season, whereas 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has targeted one of Kittle and Samuel just over 35 percent of the time this season. 

[RELATED: Where 49ers stand in NFC playoff picture after Saints' win]

Thomas is coming off his worst performance of the season, as he caught six passes for 48 yards on short rest in the Saints' Thanksgiving win over the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers would be wise to take a page out of the Falcons' playbook, but that is easier said than done, considering Thomas has at least 89 receiving yards in all but two of his games this season and has caught at least two-thirds of his targets in each game.

Brees will throw to Thomas early and often Sunday. How often will go a long way towards determining if the 49ers can avoid their first losing streak of the season.

49ers, Chiefs injury reports for Super Bowl: Tevin Coleman unable to practice

49ers, Chiefs injury reports for Super Bowl: Tevin Coleman unable to practice

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers remain hopeful running back Tevin Coleman will be available when it matters but he is currently unable to practice after sustaining a dislocated right shoulder on Sunday.

The 49ers did not practice on Wednesday, but they were required to submit a practice participation report to provide updates on their injury situations for Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami on Sunday, Feb. 2.

Coleman would not have practiced on Wednesday after sustaining his injury in the first half of the 49ers’ 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Coleman started but played just eight snaps. He carried six times for 21 yards.

Linebacker Kwon Alexander (pectoral), defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) would have been limited at practice on Wednesday.

Tartt on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game aggravated the ribs fracture that sidelined him for the final four games of the regular season, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

“I know he just irritated the same area, but no new damage,” Shanahan said on Monday. “He’ll deal with some pain, I’m sure, this week, but it’s nice that the game’s two weeks away.”

Alexander and Ford played in both playoff games after missing significant time late in the season with injuries. Both are in good shape to play in the Super Bowl.

[RELATEDCan 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo deliver when it matters in Super Bowl LIV?]

The Chiefs practiced on Wednesday, and defensive lineman Chris Jones (calf) and tight end Travis Kelce (knee) were limited.

49ers practice report

Did not practice

RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder)


LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral)
DL Dee Ford (quadricep, hamstring)
S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)

Full participation

LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle)

Chiefs practice report

Did not practice

WR Demarcus Robinson (illness)


DT Chris Jones (calf)
TE Travis Kelce (knee)

Full participation

CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder)
WR Mecole Hardman (back)
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand)
C Austin Reiter (wrist)

Why some NFL coaches, execs think Chiefs will blow out 49ers in Super Bowl 54

Why some NFL coaches, execs think Chiefs will blow out 49ers in Super Bowl 54

Super Bowl LIV will feature a stark contrast in styles.

The 49ers are known for their punishing defense, while the Kansas City Chiefs have earned their reputation as the NFL's most exciting offense. When the two square off in Miami on Feb. 2, chances are the team whose strength wins out ultimately will lift the Vince Lombardi trophy. 

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman polled three assistant coaches and two NFL executives, all of whom thought Kansas City's offense will power the Chiefs to a Super Bowl blowout. 

"There is no defense against [Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes] right now," an NFC assistant coach told Freeman.

It's not quite that simple, as our own Josh Schrock noted Wednesday. The 49ers are uniquely equipped to slow down Mahomes and the Chiefs offense because they have the best nickel front in the league. 

San Francisco has faced high-powered offenses this season, including the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13 and the New Orleans Saints a week later. Heavy rain slowed Lamar Jackson and Co. as much as the 49ers' defense did that day, particularly in the passing game. The Niners had no such luck indoors in the Big Easy, allowing 46 points and winning a track meet with the Saints. 

[RELATED: Chiefs lineman explains what makes Bosa so terrifying]

How the 49ers will handle the Chiefs' offense probably lies somewhere between those two benchmarks. Miami's Hard Rock Stadium is not domed, but rain is pretty common in South Florida this time of year. Plus, San Francisco's fearsome front can hang its on hat on dominating legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- twice. 

But as noted by those who Freeman polled, shutting Mahomes down is another matter entirely.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).