The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs will travel to Miami for Super Bowl LIV this weekend. Both teams spent this past week at their home facilities preparing for next Sunday's championship matchup. Here's what coaches and players from the 49ers and Chiefs are saying ahead of the Super Bowl.
Kyle Shanahan on how his previous Super Bowl experience will help going into Miami:
"Just knowing what to expect. I've been through the process before, knowing what's down there, knowing how it goes just media-wise, the extra commitments you have. You want to keep everything the same, which you try as hard as you can, but it is the Super Bowl. There are some different commitments you have to go to, so knowing the things that will be different already is good for guys who have been there, whether it's a coach or player."
Shanahan on what Richard Sherman has meant to the 49ers:
"I think he's meant a ton. You can probably ask each guy and probably get a different answer. He's helped us the most by how he's played, but also having a guy that's been there and done that, especially having a young team, and when you have guy who guys have grown up watching a little bit, especially over these last seven years, and being in big games like this and even starting out the year 8-0, going through that and having guys who have been through that and kind of been at the top of the league halfway through and being able to rely on some players who can help echo how tough it's going to be to keep that going. Any time you have guys with experience who have been through it who are also one of your better players, it helps a ton."
Shanahan on the 49ers week of preparation for the Chiefs:
"We just had a normal week. If we had to play Sunday, we'd be ready. So, anytime you're able to go through a week like this where you can go through a whole normal week and not actually have a game on Sunday, tomorrow we'll still do red zone and stuff like that, and Sunday we'll travel out there. It will be nice to have a long plane ride for myself, kind of go through the whole week of everything, and then we'll start over on Monday and Tuesday where we don't have to reinvent the wheel. We know what we have, but we have a week of tape where we can clean some stuff up or take some stuff out and if some stuff comes to us, we can put some stuff in."
QB Jimmy Garoppolo on the Chiefs defense:
"Talented group. It starts up front. (Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones) No. 95, (Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark) No. 55, they've got other guys that could get after it, too. But, their overall team speed, they mix it up in coverages. They don't really, they're trying not to give you anything easy. So, it makes it difficult."
Garoppolo on the importance of having Joe Staley as a leader in the 49ers locker room:
"It's huge to have him, especially just big moments, games like this. We've had them throughout the entire end of the season, it feels like, these big games. But, just having a guy like that who could calm everything down, put everything in perspective, things like that. Joe's done phenomenal on the field, and the things he does off the field go very unnoticed, but it carries us a long way."
Garoppolo on what he was expecting from Shanahan when he became a member of the 49ers:
"I expected a very sharp offensive mind, because I never met Kyle prior to that other than Combine and things like that. But, just from hearsay around the league, just a smart guy who, he commands the room. He could lead men and just offensive mind like no other. So, there were no surprises with that. That all held true. And just the way that he could lead, it's incredible. He does it in different ways, on the field, in the meeting room, the team meeting, all that stuff, it just goes a long way."
CB Richard Sherman on the key to defending Patrick Mahomes:
"I don't think there's any individual key to defending him. You've got to play good defense. You've got to contain the receivers. You've got to do your job. You've got to limit the big plays, but it's easier said than done for sure.
"There's a ton that makes him unique. He got the MVP last year for a reason. He throws a great deep ball. He trusts his receivers. He's creative with how he gets the ball to them. They have an explosive offense. He's tailor made for (Kansas City Chiefs head coach) Andy Reid's system."
Sherman on how the 49ers matchup with the Chiefs speed:
"I guess we match up well. This is a fast football league. There are a lot of teams with speed. There's a lot of teams that have a tremendous amount of speed on the outside, on the inside. At the end of the day, you've got to go out there and execute your scheme regardless. You can go out there and face five receivers that a four-six forty-yard dash, and if you don't execute your scheme, you can get run out of the building. So at the end of the day, we expect to go out there and do what we've done."
TE George Kittle on Travis Kelce:
"I've been a fan of Travis Kelce since he's been in the league. 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. It's going to be really fun to share a field with him again."
Kittle on the 49ers offensive skill players willing to do whatever the coaches ask of them on gameday:
"It's more just the beat of my own drum. If you put in the dirty work and do what you're asked on every single play, whether it's pass or run, the rest takes care of itself. Whether it's yards, catches, touchdowns, whatever it is, if you just do what you're supposed to do, you're eventually going to get the ball and it will take care of itself."
Kittle on Sherman's impact on the team:
"Sherm's the best. He's such a leader. He talks to every single person in the locker room. He's not one of those guys that sits in his locker space and just talks to guys around him. He's always around. He wants to talk to everybody and he doesn't really force knowledge on you. He's definitely an open book. If you have questions for him, he'll sit and talk football with you all day. That's one thing that's incredible about him. But he's also a guy who supports guys and he'll talk about other things if they have problems or anything like that. He's just incredible. He knows how to read guys, and he definitely knows how to get the best out of each and every single person in this locker room."
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh on defending the Chiefs speed:
"It almost looks like they got their roster from the Olympic relay team and threw them all on the football field. Not to say they can't run routes and catch either, because they can do that. They're a special group and you can see why they're there.
"They're the fastest team by far. To try to compare it to another team would not do them justice, to be honest with you. But, anytime you have speed like that, it naturally will stress the defense."
Saleh on what makes Mahomes such a unique quarterback to prepare for:
"One, his mobility is unique. His arm strength is ridiculous. He's very, very accurate. But, what I don't think people give him enough credit for is that he actually plays quarterback. There are a lot of people, there's a lot of quarterbacks in this league that will say no to number one and then it just becomes street ball. He gets rid of the ball on time. He puts it where it needs to be. He hits a lot of throws in rhythm. And when he needs to take his shot, he knows how to buy time in the pocket and do it. So, he's a superstar in every way you can possibly imagine and he's going to be tough to deal with."
DL Nick Bosa on the importance of pass rushing as a unit:
"Yeah, we're back playing a mobile quarterback and one who could throw better than any we've faced. One of the biggest things is trying to keep him in the pocket and not let him escape when he wants to escape and make him uncomfortable."
Bosa on the way Saleh prepares the defense each week:
"I think he just lays out the plan really well. From the start of the week to today, he tells you exactly what we need to do to beat them and it's usually pretty accurate. So, he gives us our three keys and he gets, usually, gets the D-line out of the room so we can go do our thing with (defensive line coach) Kris (Kocurek). But he keeps us really in sync between units: D-line, linebackers, defensive backs are all in sync. We all know where each of us fits, so there's no confusion. He makes everything pretty clear for us."
WR Emmanuel Sanders on Garoppolo's leadership:
"I love Jimmy. I swear I love Jimmy but I'm tired of talking about Jimmy. Jimmy is a baller. I've been saying it since day one. But that's my boy, man, and Jimmy's a baller and I keep saying it over and over and it's the same questions. But, he's a baller and I expect him to do what he's got to do. Obviously, he threw the ball eight times last week, but at the same time, some people say you've got to stop the run. But it's been plenty of times they say you've got to stop the run and next thing you know you open the passing game. I feel we can do that as well."
Sanders on what Wes Welker is like as a coach:
"It's cool because I played with Wes. That's why I feel a little old. But I played with Wes and now he's my coach. And man, he's doing a good job. Obviously, I know a little bit more than the younger guys. But, what he's doing with those young guys, it's amazing. The way that he's got (WR) Deebo Samuel playing. Deebo was already a player, but you've got some players that are great players, but you need a coach that can pull the greatness out of them. I think that's a lot of credit to Wes and Kyle and how they have been able to pull the greatness out of Deebo, because we sit here and talk about him, he's a rookie. And we don't really talk about him like a rookie because he doesn't play like a rookie. He plays like a grown man and that's how it's supposed to be. I've been enjoying just being in the room with Wes. And every now and then he'll pull out some of his old clips to show the young guys, 'Look, I might be saying this, but I've done this before, too,' Don't get it twisted.'"
Sanders on the skill players involvement in the run game:
"I think it's a mindset. At the end of the day we've got a lot of guys who aren't 'me' guys, it's about let's get the job done and let's win. It's more about 'we' than 'me.' And I'm one of those guys as well. And I think everybody is a part of it. You even look at (TE George) Kittle. Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the league, but everybody wants to talk about his blocking as well. So, I think it's contagious around the building in terms of going out and doing your job. When you look at your best players and they're doing it, I feel like everybody else will hop on board as well. So, it's contagious."
T Joe Staley on what makes the 49ers such an effective running team:
"Schematically, what we do offensively is really hard to defend. I think also just the mentality we have as any entire offense. It's not just all on the offensive line, it's not on the fullback, it's not on the running back. It's a complete team effort. I think the wide receivers really buying into really being run blockers and committing to that is huge. You don't see that around the league. And they really understand that if they really commit and go all aboard in the run game, it's going to open up things in the passing game. I think a lot of our skill players have no ego as far as stats go. They're going to do whatever they can to give us the win. I think this last game, the game before that, too, was really indicative of that. You didn't hear any complaining after the game. Obviously we're going to the Super Bowl, it all worked out, but even during the game no one was complaining about no targets or anything like that. They were all fired up for the run we were able to do. So I think that's a lot to do with it, just the mentality of everything."
Staley on matching up with Frank Clark:
"I'm very familiar with Frank from his time in Seattle. He's a hell of a player, a guy that plays with relentless effort the whole entire time. So he's a huge challenge. I don't really talk trash and guys really don't talk trash much to me. It's kind of a battle. We have mutual respect for each other. So it's going to be a hell of a battle going against him on the biggest stage."
DL DeForest Buckner on playing alongside his college teammate Arik Armstead:
"It's been awesome. Coming in as a rookie already having one of my good friends and college roommates on the team already, who's been in a similar position as me, getting drafted in the first round and being the team's first pick the year before, and really helping me transition into the locker room and having a guy to really bounce ideas off of throughout the year. It's been really beneficial for me, and it's been fun, especially this year. All the hard times, we had a lot of good times at Oregon, and we went through a rough patch here the past couple of years. To finally have this year, everything happening the right way and getting here to the 'big dance,' it's been a hell of a ride."
Buckner on facing Mahomes:
"The whole thing is really just rushing coverage, you know what I mean. We all know (Kansas City Chiefs QB) Patrick Mahomes has an arm, and he's one hell of a talent and he's got speed on the outside that he can make those throws too. We just need to play really good coverage, limit the explosives and really do a good job rushing up front with containing him within the pocket and really bringing pressure early."
LB Fred Warner on the challenge of covering Kelce:
"The dude is a receiving threat for sure. 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."
Warner on the challenges of facing Andy Reid's offense:
"Oh, yeah, of course. Not just to myself, though, that's just to the entire defense in general. I mean, he's been doing it for a long time. I'm sure it's evolved over the years, but the way he uses his weapons that he has, having one of the best quarterbacks in the game right now with the weapons he has around him, they're able to do a lot of different things. That's why I think you kind of see the success that they have. So, yeah, we'll make sure we're covering our bases."
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid on the 49ers:
"I know that they're a good, solid football team. They play hard and aggressive. You saw that last night in playing against a good Green Bay team. They do a variety of things on both sides of the ball. They can run it and they can pass it on the offensive side. On defense, they have a variety of things that they throw at you from a defensive standpoint. Solid on special teams. All in all, it's a good football team. Well-coached, very well-coached."
Reid on how his past Super Bowl experience can benefit him this time:
"I don't think it can hurt. I have been there and have been through it. I know the fact that there are things that go on down there. There are just a lot of events and a lot of media responsibilities. We have to just make sure that we stay on top of that and keep that organized. (Chiefs Vice President of Communications) Ted (Crews) does a phenomenal job with that. Then, we go. I try to keep everything cut-and-dry. The guys know where they're going, where they're at and what they have to do. I'm not just keeping them busy to keep them busy, I trust that they're men and that they'll handle it the right way."
QB Patrick Mahomes on his first impression of the 49ers defense:
"Obviously they have a ton of playmakers on the defense with the defensive line, linebackers and in the secondary. They have guys that have experience and they have young guys that are super talented and so you can see that the young guys have really grown as the season has gone on and they have learned from other guys around. They're very sound in what they do and in the coverages that they play. For us, it's about executing at a high level and knowing it's going to be a challenge every single play."
Mahomes on how the Chiefs are leaning on the leadership of Reid and Terrell Suggs:
"Just talking to those guys and seeing what the week is like first of all. We have a schedule on how we're doing everything, but seeing what extra free time I can pick up to study more or get guys together to get some more work in. Just using those guys and their experiences to understand what we're getting into and what to expect."
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on preparing for the 49ers rushing attack:
"The one thing is that San Francisco has a bunch of guys they can put back there to hand the ball off to. Last week we really concentrated on one number, No. 22 (Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry). I think Kyle (Shanahan) does a really good job changing, like it appears to us that he'll look at the defense he's playing and attack with those particular runs. It may not be what we saw, what they ran against Green Bay last week or Minnesota the week before. I think he's really good at that and we'll have to figure it out early. Trying to find a way to control it."
Spagnuolo on defending Kittle:
"You don't get to this point, the final game, without having a lot of weapons. It's not just one thing. We can't be blind to the fact and that we're going to put all our money and eggs in one basket and try to stop the run. Like you said, what they have is skill out there. That's what's probably led them to scoring all the points that they have. It makes the run game better. We're going to have to pick our spots when we want to take a certain guy away. More than anything, I think we got to play our defense the way we know how to play it and be as concerned about what we do as what they do."
Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on what stands out about the 49ers defense:
"Fast. They do a great job of rushing the passer. They have some big boys up front. That's the heart and soul of who they are. I'm not knocking anybody on that defense because everything starts up front. It's just like on offense. We want our guys to be the heart and soul of who we are. Well, the heart and soul of that defense lies up front. Those guys do a great job of getting off the ball. On top of that, they have a couple of backers who just fly around. On the back end, those guys are playing very, very sound, with one hell of a leader in Richard Sherman."
Bieniemy on Raheem Mostert:
"I'm hoping he doesn't give us any issues. I will say this, you're talking about a kid who has had to persevere through a lot of adversity. Most people would've just forgotten about pursuing their dream. This kid has been cut – I can't even count how many times he has been released. But for him to go through all of that and still find a way to overcome and persevere, and still have that mindset that he can play this game, it says a lot about the character of the man. Knowing that about that kid, the kid just has the heart of a lion. Ideally, being a former running backs coach and having played that position, you're a fan of people that encompass that attitude. At the end of the day, I'm not going to be a fan of his on Sunday. But, I just think the kid is tremendous. He's a tremendous person, obviously. I know that our defense is looking forward to the challenge. Last thing, he is coached by one of the original running back coaches that has put out a number of tremendous running backs in this league, such as Terrell Davis. (49ers running backs Coach) Bobby Turner was a part of that Denver deal when all of those guys were rushing for 1,000 yards. He is coached by a great man, as well."
DT Chris Jones on what he's seen from the 49ers:
"They're very special. Both sides of the ball. They took this offseason, adding some huge key pieces. They added Dee Ford, drafted that Nick Bosa kid, they got Richard Sherman on the outside and DeForest Buckner. The front seven is ruthless. Then you look at the offense. Jimmy Garoppolo and the speed they create around him. One of the best tight ends in the league, George Kittle. They have a lot of weapons and they're very dynamic. Good team. Great team. You know with the scheme (Kyle) Shanahan is running over there, it's very pivotal. We've got to study film and dial in to whatever we can do to affect those guys."
S Tyrann Mathieu on what challenges Kittle presents the Chiefs:
"When I watch them, I see a team that can obviously run the ball really well, but I think he adds a different element to their offense. Physicality. More so, the attitude that he plays with. He seems like he is having a ball every ball game. It will be important for me, and guys like Dan (Sorensen) to match that energy and just compete. Treat this like any other ball game. Whoever lines up in front of you, it's about beating them man on man.
"He is an exceptional talent. They move him around. He runs routes from really all three positions. They bunch him up. They stack him up. They try to get him free releases. They put him in the backfield. He is a big part of what they do, concept-wise. It will be important for us to identify where he is. If it's man-to-man, really compete at the highest level against him."
DE Frank Clark on the matchup against the 49ers:
"I've played them a few times in my career. I used to play them twice a year when I was in Seattle. I know the guys, I'm pretty familiar with the guys. But what I was familiar with when I was playing there isn't what I got this year with the 49ers. They turned that team around. With the coaches, the players, that defense, those guys finally came around. At the beginning of the season everybody thought it was a hoax. They thought they would fall off at some point, but they finished that season strong. You look at how they switched the whole conference around. Look at them now. The 49ers go from being out of the playoffs, four-and-whatever (record), to finishing the season off being one of the best teams in the NFL. Hats off."
TE Travis Kelce on Kittle:
"He's an unbelievable person with an unbelievable amount of energy. How he plays the game with the tenacity is one of a kind. It's special.
"I think we're both positive guys. We both love to play the game and at the same time we both love life. With that comes a lot of responsibility in the tight end room, to not just be a one-dimensional player, but be a utility guy in the locker room or do whatever the team needs. That's what we're capable of doing. In terms of similarities, I do believe the run after catch is something, I've been able to have a knack since I have been in the league. Obviously, since Kittle has been in the league, he's taken that to a whole other level."