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PFT’s Super Bowl picks

Mike Florio and Chris Simms debate whether Redskins QB Alex Smith would rather see the 49ers, who replaced him with Colin Kaepernick, or the Chiefs, who replaced him with Patrick Mahomes, win Super Bowl LIV.

The time almost has come to play Super Bowl LIV. The time definitely has come to quit procrastinating on picking a potential winner of the game.

MDS and I have made our selections, and we surprisingly agree on this one. For our reasoning and our selections, keep on reading.

MDS’s take: When I picture how this game plays out, the first thing that comes to my mind is that Patrick Mahomes meets perhaps the best defense he’s ever played against, in the biggest game of his career, and comes out on top.

The 49ers will, of course, bring some pressure on Mahomes and make it hard on him to find open receivers, but I think he’ll rise to the occasion. With Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins able to stretch the field, I think Mahomes is going to hit several deep balls. If he has time to pass, he’s going to make the 49ers’ defense pay.

How can the 49ers stay in it? I think they’ll move the ball fairly effectively against a Chiefs run defense that was suspect in the regular season but has played well in the postseason. And I think Jimmy Garoppolo will be efficient, if not spectacular the way Mahomes will be. The 49ers’ offense will put points on the board.

But in the end, I think it comes down to Mahomes. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, he’ll deliver.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 34, 49ers 31.

Florio’s take: As the 49ers were dismantling the Packers in the NFC Championship, a game I was convinced Green Bay would win, I became convinced that the 49ers would also dismantle the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. In the six quarters since coach Kyle Shanahan flipped the switch from passing to running, the 49ers’ offense has become unstoppable. And even though the Chiefs stopped Titans running back Derrick Henry, the San Francisco running game is more diverse and sudden and explosive.

As time passed, and as I took a closer look at things that a healthy Patrick Mahomes can do, the pendulum began to swing the other way. Hobbled through much of the season due to an ankle injury suffered in Week One and a dislocated kneecap sustained on a Thursday night in Denver, Mahomes had become second fiddle to Ravens phenom Lamar Jackson. By December, however, Mahomes was back and literally better than ever -- conjuring images of 2018 and in plenty of respects taking his game to a higher level.

So here’s the question: Can Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and company get to Mahomes before Mahomes spots one of his various receivers wide-ass open in the San Fran secondary? Given that Mahomes never stops moving (making it much harder to track him down than a guy who settles into the pocket), I’m betting that Mahomes will be as elusive against the 49ers as he has been against pretty much every team (when healthy), and that the 49ers won’t be able to keep him from gaining yards and scoring points.

Which could make the game turn on whether the Chiefs can slow down the 49ers’ offense just enough to outscore the NFC champs. Based on what Kansas City did to Henry, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to Steve Spagnuolo and company to come up with something to slow down the 49ers just enough to allow Mahomes and company to emerge with a win.

The score I’ve picked represents a certain amount of wishful thinking. These teams seem to be so evenly matched that it’s possible, with a lucky (or unlucky) break or two early in the game, that things could get out of hand, with the Chiefs far better suited to come from behind than the 49ers, who could be cooked if they fall behind by 10 and who could see things snowball out of control.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t get to that point. Here’s hoping that the game stays close and exciting and utimately gives us an outcome that will provide a fitting end to the NFL’s 100th season.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, 49ers 27.