1. Using the tight end: The 49ers knew the Chiefs had to run their passing attack through tight end Travis Kelce, but still couldn’t stop it.
Kelce got off to a slow start and things got messy on the Chiefs’ sidelines, but he ended up with nine catches (on 10 targets) for 93 yards.
The Falcons had trouble getting tight end Kyle Pitts open over the past two seasons. Some of that can be traced to quarterback play, some of it to play design and some of it to Pitts not making the most of his targets.
“We had him called for a couple more, and it just didn’t work out,” Reid said about the slow start. “They doubled him early.”
Reid adjusted to how the 49ers were playing Kelce.
“Then, we came back to him in the second half and had him rub off of people,” Reid said. “Kind of do a combination of routes, a couple of routes with Rashee (Rice) and then with MVS (Marquez-Valdes-Scantling).”
Reid and offensive coordinator Matt Nagy found ways to fix things.
“Stop playing like a Jabroni, man,” Kelce said was his halftime battle cry.
2. Using Bijan Robinson like Christian McCaffery: San Francisco running back Christian McCaffery turned in a spectacular game:
-80 yards rushing on 22 carries.
-80 yards receiving on eight catches, including a 21-yard TD catch on a flea flicker play involving wide receiver Jauan Jennings.
More importantly, he was all over the field. He ran sweeps, caught screens and ran some power.
In other words, it could have been a blueprint for how new Falcons coordinator Zac Robinson could use running back Bijan Robinson and even Tyler Allgeier, who’s arguably better that McCaffery’s backup Elijah Mitchell (who had two rushes for eight yards against the Chiefs).
3. Purdy more than a game manager: The Falcons, who will be in the quarterback market this offseason, would love to have a Brock Purdy.
He completed 23 of 38 passes for 255 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 89.3.
Desmond Ridder was over 89.3 in just 7 of his 19 starts for the Falcons.
Purdy missed a couple of throws, but that was usually with Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones was up in his face. He completed passes to eight different receivers, including former Georgia standout Chris Conley.
But the 49ers had to settle for a field goal in overtime.
“Yeah, they brought zero and was trying to get the ball to JJ (Jauan Jennings),” Purdy said. “That’s what was hurting me, just knowing that yeah, we’re going to execute the field goal, trust in Jake (Moody) and all the guys on special teams, but obviously their offense is really good.”
Mahomes took the Chiefs down for the game-winning touchdown.
“Mahomes is really good,” Purdy said. “You just don’t want to give an opportunity to go down and win the game off a touchdown. When I wasn’t able to connect with them it hurt.”
4. Falcons have a safety: Kansas City safety Justin Reid directed the defense’s effort.
The Falcons have a safety in Jessie Bates III, who can lead their defense for new coach Raheem Morris and defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake.
Reid had nine tackles, half of a sack and a quarterback hit.
Reid also did a good job helping out wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk from having a spectacular game. He caught three passes for 49 yards, but did not get open deep.
“We were going to come out there with some fire,” Reid said. “We knew that we needed to set a tempo.”
The defense also made some adjustments at halftime.
“We were down seven,” Reid said. We knew we needed to get the ball back to our offense. We needed to swing momentum. So [the] guys were dialed in. We didn’t have anyone playing hero ball.”
5. Stop the run: The 49ers had to stop the run after giving up 136 yards to Green Bay and 182 to the Lions in the playoffs.
“We know how tough that team is stopping the run,” Reid said. “There’s no other way to stop it. You’ve got to match physicality with physicality.”