49ers

Chiefs' Travis Kelce poses tough challenge for 49ers in Super Bowl 54

Chiefs' Travis Kelce poses tough challenge for 49ers in Super Bowl 54

SANTA CLARA – The Kansas City Chiefs employ an Olympic track team at the skill positions. At least that’s what it seems like with so many lightning quick parts of the pattern, who could combine to form one heck of a relay team.

Travis Kelce might never get the baton in that situation. He might not even be an alternate on the 4x100, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous as a receiving tight end.

He’s the best of this generation, certainly equal to 49ers tight end George Kittle as a receiver. Kelce was a second-team All-Pro behind Kittle this year after being named to the first team two of the past three seasons.

In short, he’s awesome. Kelce also adds another dimension to the passing game. He isn’t slow by any stretch, even if he’d never beat Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Waktins in a race.

He’s physical, quick and a human mismatch against linebackers and safeties alike. He’s someone the 49ers will focus on Feb. 2 in Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

“The dude is a receiving threat for sure,” 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner said. “They like to put him in a lot of different positions to get him to catch the ball, and he knows what to do with it after he catches it. So I mean, he's a mismatch for sure. You don't really know who to put on him. You put a safety on him, he's a bigger body. You put a linebacker on him, he's shifty, he's fast. So he's going to be a challenge for us for sure.”

The 49ers, however, are used to covering elite tight ends. They did it often in the offseason and training camp dealing with Kittle – top units play the scout team during a regular-season practice week – when first units clash.

Kittle studies him as much as anyone looking for tips in the game tape, and respects Kelce’s game.

“I've been a fan of Travis Kelce since he's been in the league,” Kittle said. “I watched his tape when I was in college. Watch his tape now. I get his games every single week so I can watch what he does. He's definitely one of the best in the game at what he does, receiving, just finding open spots. I got to meet Travis last year when we played him at the Chiefs. Had a jersey exchange after the season and then I met him again in Atlanta during the Super Bowl. So we definitely know each other. He's awesome.”

Kelce could be a headache running over the middle, especially on third down. Kelce led the NFL with 1,229 receiving yards on 97 catches on 130 targets, with 66 receptions going for a first down.

Kelce also knows how good the 49ers have been this season. According to pro-football-reference.com, they allowed a league-low 552 yards to tight ends, on 66 catches during the regular season. They have also given up six touchdowns to tight ends.

[RELATED: Chiefs' Bieniemy indentifies 'heart and soul' of 49ers' defense]

That’s why Kelce’s pouring focus into finding ways to game prep.

“I’m working hard, trying to figure out how to beat the 49ers,” Kelce said. “That has been the mindset every day since we won the AFC championship game. We have two weeks to prepare for the biggest game of my life, and the clock’s ticking.”

CA Governor Gavin Newsom 'doesn't anticipate' normal NFL games in fall

CA Governor Gavin Newsom 'doesn't anticipate' normal NFL games in fall

President Donald Trump reportedly told sports commissioners and top executives Saturday that he believes the NFL should start on time with fans returning to stadiums by August despite the coronavirus outbreak.

California Governor Gavin Newsom doesn't share the same thoughts.

The governor was asked about Trump's reported prediction and said he doesn't envision California having made enough progress against the virus for it to be business as usual for the NFL in California come fall.

“I’m not anticipating that happening in this state,” Newsom said Saturday. “We’ve all seen the headlines over the last couple days in Asia where they opening up certain businesses and now they’re starting to roll back those openings because they’re starting seeing some spread and there’s a boomerang. One has to be very cautious here, one has to be careful not to overpromise. It's interesting, I have a lot of friends that work in Major League Baseball and the NFL, they've been asking me -- in fact, a well-known athlete -- a football player -- just asked me if he expects to come back. I said, 'I would move very cautiously in that expectation.'"

Listen and subscribe to the 49ers Insider podcast

For Newsom, he is making sure to prioritize safety and caution above all else before letting sports return.

“Our decision on that basis here in the State of California will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our ability to meet this moment and bend the curve and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether that's appropriate. Right now I’m just focusing on the immediate, but that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”

[RELATED: 49ers reportedly eye WR/CB at No. 13, plan to trade No. 31]

The truth of the matter is that no one knows how long this will last or when sports will be able to return to packed stadiums. The NFL is planning on starting the schedule on time with fans in the stadium, but that might not be the case in California. With many epidemiologists expecting the virus to surge again the fall, the fate of the NFL's season is very much up in the air.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as well as a lead member of the White House's coronavirus taskforce, told Warriors star Steph Curry that sports can only safely return once the country as a whole has turned the corner from the outbreak and the medical system no longer is under strain.

As of Saturday, there were more than 270,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States and more than 7,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and NBC News reporting.

Watch DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Clelin Ferrell in joint workout

Watch DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Clelin Ferrell in joint workout

While the NFL offseason programs are postponed, many players are still working out to be ready for the time when the teams are able to get back to work in an organized setting.

In Miami, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Clelin Ferrell are working out with private defensive line coach Mark Hall.

Hall, who recently was a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, sent a video to NBC Sports Bay Area of the three players working out.

[RELATED49ers mailbag: Could Gore or Walker return in free agency?]

The 49ers recently traded Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and re-signed Armstead to a four-year, $84 million contract. Ferrell will enter his second season with the Las Vegas Raiders after being the club’s first-round selection at No. 4 overall in the 2019 draft.