49ers

49ers' Robert Saleh blown away by Chiefs' 'Olympic relay team' speed

49ers' Robert Saleh blown away by Chiefs' 'Olympic relay team' speed

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. 

[RELATED: 49ers ready to take Super Bowl game plan to practice field]

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).

Old 49ers-Odell Beckham trade idea shows NFL draft was better route

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AP

Old 49ers-Odell Beckham trade idea shows NFL draft was better route

NFL draft season prompts plenty of outlandish trade scenarios to fill airtime and word counts, many of which never come to fruition.

Dallas Morning News reporter Joseph Hoyt dug up one such scenario Thursday, and it's a (hypothetical) trade the 49ers are (hypothetically) glad they didn't (hypothetically) make.

The 49ers would've had to pay a pretty penny for then-New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the proposal put forth in a "Good Morning Football" segment nearly two years ago. Beckham was months away from signing a contract extension, so San Francisco would've traded a lot of draft capital for a star entering the final year of his contract. The picks the 49ers made in those slots formed the backbone of the 2019 NFC Champions.

Beckham's arrival would've changed things, though. The 49ers would've entered the season with arguably the best receiver in football as well as George Kittle, who'd emerge as arguably the best tight end. Kittle might not have set an NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end playing alongside Beckham, but he surely would've benefitted from the extra attention opposing defenses paid the receiver rather than him.

Do they still go 4-12 that year? The 49ers were 3-5 in games decided by six points or fewer in 2018, and Jimmy Garoppolo (torn ACL) missed all but one of those games. Beckham crossed the 1,000-yard threshold in just 12 games catching passes from Eli Manning in 2018, so it's -- at the very least -- conceivable he could've moved the needle in at least one of the 49ers' close losses.

[RELATED: Why 49ers should trade down from both first-round picks]

The 49ers would've picked no higher than No. 4 overall with a 5-11 record in 2018, and any additional wins would've dropped them further down the draft order. Acquiring Beckham under the parameters "Good Morning Football" put forth likely would've prevented the Niners from selecting all of Mike McGlinchey, Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel, but not all three of them would necessarily be Giants, either.

San Francisco would've been a better team in 2018, thus pushing the 49ers out of the slots they used to draft Bosa and Samuel. That's a different opportunity cost to consider than trading all of those players straight-up for one of the game's best receivers, but it's one the 49ers probably are glad they didn't have to pay.

2020 NFL Draft: Why 49ers should trade down both first-round picks

2020 NFL Draft: Why 49ers should trade down both first-round picks

The 49ers had only six picks in the 2020 NFL Draft before trading Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco owned the No. 31 pick, and no others until the fifth round.

That trade brought in the No. 13 pick, but the 49ers probably aren't done dealing. Trading down to acquire more, much-needed draft capital is the likeliest scenario.

While much of the 49ers Faithful drool over what the top wide receivers in the draft would look like in coach Kyle Shanahan’s system, it's far from a given that the team will use that first pick on a receiver. For one, the 49ers still don't own any picks in the second, third and fourth rounds. For another, receiver is one of the deepest positions in the draft and the 49ers arguably have a bigger need.

Joe Staley is under contract through the 2021 season, but the veteran left tackle was understandably emotional after the 49ers' loss in Super Bowl LIV. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey indirectly indicated that Staley’s decision to return for the 2020 season was not set in stone.

The 49ers would be best served in hedging their bet that Staley returns and using one of their first-round picks on a left tackle. Even if Staley returns, the 49ers will need a replacement for him in the not-so-distant future. 

The draft's top tackles likely will be taken before the 49ers' first pick, but there still should be quality options available in the 20s or later. The 49ers could trade down, while Houston's Josh Jones or USC's Austin Jackson is still available, and then acquire another pick.

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Let's say trading the No. 13 pick nets the 49ers a first- and early second-round pick. Dealing the No. 31 pick would also come into play.

The 49ers drafted Deebo Samuel No. 36 overall in 2019. Samuel proved to be very productive in Shanahan’s system, catching 57 of his 81 targets for 802 yards. He ranked second on the team in receiving yards only behind First Team All-Pro tight end George Kittle. 

Shanahan's staff had an advantage in getting to know Samuel while at the Senior Bowl, but they have shown that a second-round receiver can become a key contributor. 

[RELATED: Buckner's exit could influence 49ers to trade down in draft]

Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson's draft trade value chart lists the No. 31 pick as worth a mid-second-round pick and a high third-round pick or a high second-round pick and a mid-fourth-round pick, among other permutations. Trading both first-round picks could give the 49ers three additional picks in rounds where they currently have none.

The 49ers would end draft weekend with nine selections in this scenario, as opposed to their original six. They'd also have fresh, valuable talent at important positions on their roster.