Super Bowl hot seat: 49ers must stop the Chiefs’ run game

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen (6) hits Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (10) during the second half of an AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen (6) hits Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (10) during the second half of an AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LAS VEGAS — To reach Super Bowl 58, the 49ers needed two comebacks in the playoffs because their run defense was shredded by the Packers and the Lions.

The interior of the defense will be on the hot seat against the Chiefs at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Allegiant Stadium. The Packers gashed them for 136 yards and the Lions rushed for 182 in the NFC title game.

“They have to meet in the hole,” CBS analyst Charles Davis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Really, to me, it’s (linebackers Fred) Warner and (Dre) Greenlaw. That tandem.”

The linebackers will need some help from the defensive tackles.

“What has to happy for me in this one, is (Javon) Kinlaw, (Arik) Armstead, those (guys) in the middle, they have to make it messy,” Davis said. “Because if you don’t, and I love Warner and Greenlaw. If you’re meeting them at 3 or 4 yards, that’s a 4-yard gain right there. Even if you stuff him in the hole, that’s second-and-6.”

Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco has rushed 64 times for 254 yards (4.0 per carry) and three touchdowns in three playoff games. He’s been running with authority.

“How many times is he going to get stuffed in the hole?” Davis queried. “I don’t care how good you are. He doesn’t get stuffed in the hole. Those guys have got to make it muddy inside.”

Also, safety Justin Reid can be used in the run game against the 49ers.

“Where is Justin Reid at during this ballgame and how big of an impact can he have,” Davis said. “Because he’ll play down in the box. He will play back in the post, and he got his first career sack in the playoffs (against the Ravens). Can he make a play like that? He’s going to have to help out with (tight end George) Kittle. He’s going to have to do a lot of things.”

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