49ers

Ben Garland's role with 49ers now has less mystery surrounding it

Ben Garland's role with 49ers now has less mystery surrounding it

SANTA CLARA – Ben Garland moves into a starting role with the 49ers this week.

With his rise up the depth chart to replace center Weston Richburg, who is out for the season with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, Garland finds that his job just got a lot more simple.

Not easier, mind you, but more simple.

For the first 13 games of the regular season, Garland was one of two backup offensive linemen on the 49ers’ game-day roster. He had to be ready to enter games if he was needed at right guard, left guard or center. Plus, he also had to have a knowledge of the tackle positions, in case multiple injuries forced him to slide into one of those spots.

“It’s always tough when you’re one of the backup swing guys,” Garland said. “You got to be ready and be ready at multiple positions to go at any moment. It’s definitely a tough position to be in, but you got to have guys ready. I’m glad at the way they prepare guys here, so they are ready in those situations.”

Garland, 31, has been in the NFL for six seasons. On Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, he will make his eighth career start when he takes the field against the team for which he started each of his previous games.

He started seven games the past two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, where he spent two seasons with Kyle Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta in 2015 and ’16. When Garland was available in the offseason, the 49ers reached out and signed him to a one-year contract as depth.

“I was excited,” Garland said. “I absolutely love coach Shanahan and that type of offense fits me well, so I was really excited for that opportunity.

“I do well with the speed of the outside zone and the quickness, and I know the scheme well.”

Garland was thrown into a difficult situation Sunday with the crowd noise and a playoff environment in New Orleans. After Richburg went down with his knee injury early in the third quarter, Garland executed the final 36 snaps to Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers’ offense in San Francisco's 48-46 victory over the Saints.

“He did a great job when he went in there,” Shanahan said. “From a center standpoint, just the snaps and everything, I think it was very good. I know we had a couple false starts, which I would love to have had back, but it’s tough in that environment.

“The noise thing, I think the hardest thing with the noise in that game was in the huddle, which is rare. We struggled a lot to hear in the huddle.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Garland sees worlds intersect with football on Veterans Day]

The most difficult part for Garland, who did not step on the field for six of the Niners' first 13 games, was staying ready to enter the game at a moment's notice.

“It’s always tough, especially when you’re talking about halfway through the game, you have to stay warm and understand your assignments,” Garland said. “(The Superdome) is a tough place to play. But I think this team does a great job of developing players and having them ready for their opportunities when they come.”

Now, there is no big mystery about Garland’s role on the team for the remainder of the season.

“It’s a lot simpler for me,” he said. “I can focus on one position and no t worried left guard and right guard and if a tackle goes down, do I have to be a tackle? That’s a lot to worry about and plan for, getting all the plays at multiple positions.”

Teams with defenses like 49ers' have great track record in Super Bowl

Teams with defenses like 49ers' have great track record in Super Bowl

The "Defense wins championships" adage didn't arise out of nowhere. It's a tried and true method tested over multiple decades of different eras of the NFL, and one that bodes well for the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV against the Kanas City Chiefs.

San Francisco finished the regular season with the No. 2-ranked defense in the league behind only the New England Patriots. The Niners have been even better on that side of the ball through two playoff contests, where they've held their opponents to nearly 30 fewer total yards per game. That defense will face arguably its toughest test all year long in Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but based on history, there is reason to believe it will hold up.

As ESPN's Dan Orlovsky discussed on Tuesday morning's episode of "Get Up", teams with a top-two ranked defense have a very good track record in the Super Bowl. In fact, it has usually taken a Hall of Fame quarterback to overcome that defense.

Kansas City ranked fifth in the NFL during the regular season with an average of 28.2 points per game, but it's worth noting that Mahomes missed two games due to injury, and likely wasn't at full strength for several other contests. He appears to be fully healthy now, as the Chiefs have exploded for an average of 43.0 points per game in the playoffs. For comparison, the 49ers rank second among all postseason teams with an average of 32.0 points per game. While those previous top-two ranked defenses have given up an average of 18 points per game in the Super Bowl, it's unlikely San Francisco will be able to limit the Chiefs' high-flying offense to that degree, but even if they can get close, that might be enough to prove victorious.

[RELATED: 49ers, Chiefs show importance of bye weeks in NFL playoffs]

As great as the historical track record is for the 49ers, that Hall of Fame QB exception to the rule likely will keep the team from puffing its chest too much before the Big Game. Mahomes is only in his third professional season and second as a starting quarterback, but it sure looks like he'll eventually wind up in Canton.

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).

Super Bowl 54: Why history is on 49ers' side as underdogs vs. Chiefs

Super Bowl 54: Why history is on 49ers' side as underdogs vs. Chiefs

As the dust settled Sunday and the two teams competing in Super Bowl LIV were revealed, the early odds have the 49ers as one-point underdogs against reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

While that margin shows that the sportsbooks clearly are torn on who they see coming out on top, it does indicate that there’s a slight consensus among bettors that Kansas City is the better team.

But if past records are any indication, the 49ers should embrace the underdog role.

"Let's not forget that in 28 career starts, Jimmy Garoppolo is 23-5," Fox Sports 1's Todd Fuhrman said on Tuesday's episode of "Lock It In." "Let's not discount his abilities and what he can do in this particular stage."

[RELATED: 49ers, Chiefs show importance of bye weeks in NFL playoffs]

There’s still plenty of time between now and kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium, so expect the lines to shift over that span.

But it might just be the time to throw down that bet while the odds still are in your favor.

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).