MIAMI, Fla. -- Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to the Super Bowl with his strong and accurate throwing arm.
Jimmy Garoppolo repeatedly handed the ball off during the 49ers’ postseason run.
But both quarterbacks in Super Bowl LIV have succeeded in accomplishing the same thing for their team, Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner said in an interview Tuesday with NBC Sports Bay Area.
“Whether you throw eight passes in a championship game or you bring your team back from 24 points down, you have to do whatever you have to do at the quarterback position to win,” Warner said.
“I believe both of these guys have done that this year. There’ve been huge moments for Jimmy Garoppolo. The win down in New Orleans is one that jumps out to me. Hey, we got to go score 40 points? I can score 40 points. We got to hand the ball off every time and I throw eight passes? I can do that and I’m fine with that, as long as we win football games.”
Mahomes and Garoppolo did it in different ways, but they have proven to be the right quarterbacks for the Chiefs and the 49ers.
There are a lot of differences, but there is a similarity, too, Warner pointed out. Both players were backups for at least one season behind respected veteran quarterbacks. Alex Smith set a great example for Mahomes, while Garoppolo spent three-and-a-half seasons behind Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
“I think there’s a maturity to understand what goes into being an NFL quarterback and handling everything that comes with that,” Warner said. “Both of those guys got to learn from really good NFL quarterbacks, Alex Smith and Tom Brady.
“So you learn something from them on how you lead a franchise. I think both of them have done a tremendous job early in their careers at doing just that. And, now, early in their starting careers, they’re in the Super Bowl.”
Warner said he believes the key matchup of Sunday’s game will be the 49ers’ pass rush against Mahomes. The 49ers must find a way to get Mahomes out of rhythm and prevent him from connecting on big plays down the field.
The 49ers’ offense has to control the clock and keep Mahomes on the sideline. Then, the pass rush has to make it difficult for Mahomes to have time to get the ball down the field to the Chiefs’ speedy wide receivers.
“A lot of that is going to fall on those pass-rushers up front,” Warner said. ‘Can they get quick pressure on Patrick Mahomes. What do we know about the Kansas City Chiefs? They want to throw the ball down the field, and they want to make big plays. You have to force them to go away from what they do really well.”
Meanwhile, Garoppolo has to enter this game expecting to put the team on his back after playing an auxiliary role in the 49ers’ 17-point victories over Minnesota and Green Bay in the playoffs.
“If you’re a quarterback and you’ve dreamed of playing in this big moment, you want to be a huge part of why you win, and that’s what you prepare for this week,” Warner said.