There were certainly question marks around the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs at points during the 2023 season.
The 49ers suffered a brutal loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Day and were edged out by the Los Angeles Rams as they played backups in the final game of the season. The 49ers did nOt exactly give fans major hope of winning the NFC Championship after closely defeating the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.
On Sunday night, they turned everything around.
San Francisco climbed back against the Detroit Lions after going down 17 points at halftime. The 49ers outscored the Lions 27-7 in the second half to win the NFC Championship, 34-31.
“There’s been unfinished business for a while man,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told Fox’s Michael Strahan during the trophy celebration. “Our team was set up for this for a long time. It’s been a long year to get to this point, and we got it done today. It was hard in the beginning but the character we have on our team, the types of guys we have, can’t wait to get to Vegas, man.”
The Chiefs needed to overcome plenty of obstacles as well.
Kansas City lost the first game of the season to the Detroit Lions, and the offense did not look like it was ever going to come around, as bad drops, turnovers and penalties really overshadowed the play on the field. It was the first time the Chiefs finished outside the top 10 in points scored since the 2016 season, when Alex Smith was quarterbacking the team.
The difference this year was the defense. The Chiefs were second in points and yards allowed. They allowed more than 20 points four times in the regular season. The Packers scored the most against them – 27 points in a Dec. 3 loss on the road.
Somehow, the Chiefs were able to overcome their offensive flaws. Patrick Mahomes is a big reason for that, and it showed against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship.
Mahomes was 30-of-39 for 241 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. The star tight end put on a vintage showing as well, catching 11 passes for 116 yards.
Kansas City won the game, 17-10.
If there is one thing both franchises have in common, it is that their conference opponents have to go through them to get to the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs have been in six consecutive conference championship games, while the 49ers were in their third consecutive championship game and their fourth in five years. Kansas City is in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the last five years, as their dynasty really started with a win over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
Kansas City could become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots did it in 2003 and 2004.
Two totally different teams will take the field at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11 for Super Bowl LVIII.