Why Andy Reid won't overlook 49ers' passing game before Super Bowl 54

Why Andy Reid won't overlook 49ers' passing game before Super Bowl 54

MIAMI, Fla. -- The 49ers running game is humming. They steamrolled the NFC with a diverse, aggressive rushing attack that seems to expand by the week and is increasingly difficult for defenses to decipher.

San Francisco coach/offensive play-caller Kyle Shanahan is doing new and innovative things that has made the ground game so efficient that the 49ers have barely had to pass in the playoffs.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only passed eight times in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers, and the air attack essentially shut down halfway through a divisional-round victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

That run-heavy trend isn’t fooling Kansas City Chiefs coach/offensive play-caller Andy Reid. He has great respect for Shanahan’s run design, but he also has great respect for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Discount him, Reid says, at your own peril.

“Kyle does a great job with his blend of runs," Reid said Tuesday at Miami’s J.W. Marriott Turnberry hotel. "That said, I wouldn’t slight Jimmy. Jimmy can throw the ball well when needed. If you look at his percentages and passer rating over the last few years, it’s up there in every situation. As well as they run the football and as well as they make you honor every gap and zone on the field, you can’t slight the pass game. Our defense is working hard on that, trying to make it right.”

Reid isn’t wrong about Garoppolo performing well in crucial situations. He has a 101.9 passer rating on third down, and an impressive 117.9 rating on third down with seven-to-nine yards to go. He has a 97.8 rating on third and 10 or more, without an interception in those situations.

The Faithful knows Garoppolo can put the ball in harm’s way at times, but he’s aggressive working the ball downfield and giving skill players a chance to gain yards after the catch. His 8.4 yards per attempt ranks third in the NFL, even better than Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his track team of receivers.

[RELATED: Chiefs' Tyreek Hill says 49ers will face one of most explosive offenses ever]

Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo considers it difficult to tell what the 49ers will do pre-snap, and they can do so many things well that every offensive aspect must be respected.

As an offensive innovator in his own right, Reid believes Shanahan is pushing the game forward in his own way by giving retro concepts a modern twist.

“He does one heck of a job,” Reid said. “He does a lot of two-back stuff that was popular back in the day and will be coming back because of his success. Football’s a big circle. What’s good today won’t be good tomorrow and will be cool again down the road. He has done a really nice job. He’s really, really sharp.”

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

The NFL’s playoff structure is expected to change to reportedly include seven teams in both conferences to advance to the postseason.

The current proposal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, would add one playoff team in each conference and only the top seed in the AFC and NFC would be rewarded with byes in the first round of the playoffs.

The changes to the playoff format would take effect this season when the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. ESPN reports there is “mounting optimism” the new CBA will be agreed upon within the week.

Through last season, the top six teams in both conferences made the playoffs. If the playoff proposal had been in effect last season, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers would have advanced to the playoffs as the Nos. 7 seeds.

As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the 49ers would have still earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. But the Green Bay Packers, the No. 2 seed, would have played in the extra game against the Rams. If the Rams were to have upset the Packers in the wild-card round, the 49ers would have played Los Angeles in the NFC Divisional Playoff instead of the Minnesota Vikings.

But the new proposal would have had an even more major impact in the AFC, where the Kansas City Chiefs would have been forced to win three games in the playoffs just to advance to the Super Bowl.

"That's been agreed to for a long time," one source familiar with the CBA talks told ESPN about the NFL's new playoff structure. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue."

[RELATED49ers roster analysis: More receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

Players on the top team in each conference will receive postseason pay for the bye weekend, unlike years past, according to the report.

Also, ESPN reported that the sides are also trying to work through a proposal for a 17-game regular season, while the exhibition season is shortened to three games. The earliest that change could occur would be the 2021 season, according to the report.

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

Sanders showed his appreciation later Wednesday morning.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.