SANTA CLARA -- Arrowhead Stadium ran out of fireworks during the Chiefs' divisional-round win over the Houston Texans because Kansas City scored so many times.
The Chiefs followed up their 51-point performance against Houston -- which included 41 unanswered -- with another powerful offensive display against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game.
After trailing the Titans by 10 midway through the second quarter, the Chiefs got rolling and put up 28 unanswered points.
This did not go unnoticed in Santa Clara. Having faced the Chiefs once in the 2018 regular season and again in the 2019 preseason, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense has become even more effective since their last encounter.
“Very explosive,” Saleh said. “Mahomes has gotten better. They’re at every position -- it almost looks like they got their roster from the Olympic relay team and threw them all on the field. Not to say that they can’t run routes or can’t catch either, because they can do that.
"They are a special group and you can see why they are there."
The Chiefs lead all teams this postseason with an average of 43.0 points per game. They have also moved the ball the most effectively, gaining 6.9 yards per play. The 49ers rank second with 32.0 points scored per contest and seventh moving the ball, averaging 5.6 yards per snap.
The 49ers' defense has improved facing mobile quarterbacks over the season, but Mahomes and the Chiefs might be the biggest challenge yet.
“They are the fastest team by far,” Saleh said. “To try to compare it to another team would not do them justice to be honest with you. But anytime you have speed like that it will naturally stress the defense.”
Saleh’s defense will need to be firing on all cylinders on Super Bowl Sunday and getting to Mahomes will be a key part of the scheme. The last time the two teams faced off in 2018, the 49ers sacked Mahomes twice but still lost 38-27.
At the time, the 49ers did not have Nick Bosa, and Dee Ford was on the opposing sideline.
”When you have edge rushers, it speeds up the process of the quarterback,” Saleh said. “And, not that he needs speeding up, he already gets rid of it pretty quick. But, it changes the game. Like I talked about last week, it unlocks the offensive line so it creates a little bit more space and it gives the guys inside more space to operate. So, having those guys out there, having them at full speed, will do nothing but help.”
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).