Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers is a matchup that certainly has its fair share of storylines surrounding it that have been well publicized. But one interesting thing to consider is what players or coaches on each team have the most on the line in this game.
Every player will of course be giving his all in this game considering everyone with aspirations of playing or coaching at the professional level dreams of competing for a Super Bowl championship one day.
But for a few individuals, this game will go a long way toward telling the overall story of their career. Let’s take a look at five people in Super Bowl LVIII who have the most on the line in this upcoming matchup.
San Francisco 49ers:
Christian McCaffrey, Running Back:
There is no debating McCaffrey’s excellence as an overall versatile offensive weapon throughout his seven-year NFL career. But this game is not only meaningful to his career, but to running backs around the NFL who are often undervalued in the open market.
The 49ers famously traded for McCaffrey last season, which has been a terrific deal for them and completely transcended their offense.
McCaffrey has excelled in Kyle Shanahan’s offense on an individual level, notably breaking the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown this season.
49ers star Christian McCaffrey is into the end zone, and into the NFL record books. This marks the 16th straight game where McCaffrey scored a touchdown, breaking the record held by multiple players.🤯pic.twitter.com/PuOkmJPF44
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 24, 2023
But to this point, it has not resulted in a Super Bowl championship for the team, which is what it is all about at the end of the day.
If McCaffrey plays a big part in a 49ers victory on Sunday in Super Bowl LVIII, it will further show just how valuable an elite running back can be in creating a championship team.
Kyle Shanahan, Head Coach:
Shanahan has built an extremely successful team in San Francisco in his seven-year tenure as head coach of the team. But to this point, he hasn’t been able to get over the hump to build a championship winner.
A loss in Super Bowl LVIII would be his second Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs, famously coming up short in Super Bowl LIV against them as well back in 2020.
It also doesn’t help that Shanahan will always be compared to his father, Mike Shanahan, who has two Super Bowl championships under his belt in the late 1990s with the Denver Broncos.
With a win, Shanahan would not only show that he can out-scheme a great coach on the other side of this matchup in Andy Reid, but also that he is well on his way to being every bit as good of a coach as his father.
Brock Purdy, Quarterback:
Simply put, Purdy has had something to prove the entirety of his career thus far due to being drafted by the 49ers with the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Every step of the way, Purdy has been discredited by critics, who have been saying that the team success the 49ers have had in the past two seasons has been due to the system in place and the great skill players around Purdy.
Kimberley Martin reacts to Cam Newton calling Brock Purdy, Tua Tagovailoa, Jared Goff and Dak Prescott game managers: "In the year of 2023 where it's all about NFL backups, where is Cam? Not on an NFL roster, right? He's talking about all of these NFL game managers. He sounds… pic.twitter.com/vdqZ3NW7sN
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 13, 2023
This is despite Purdy’s impressive individual stat line in the regular season, ranking inside the top five in nearly every important quarterback statistic including passing yards, passing touchdowns, quarterback rating, and passer rating.
With a win and a great performance in Super Bowl LVIII over an all-time great quarterback like Patrick Mahomes, Purdy would become just the fourth quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl in just their second year in the NFL.
Those who have done so, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson, are all widely regarded as elite quarterbacks at the peak of their respective careers, very clearly putting Purdy in that class as well.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Isiah Pacheco, Running Back:
When you think about the Chiefs, you naturally jump to the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce as the driving force of the team’s success.
However, Pacheco has quietly become a staple in this Chiefs offense, particularly when it has mattered most down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs.
In the Chiefs’ three postseason games, Pacheco has completely dominated the touches in the Chiefs backfield, combining for 281 scrimmage yards on a combined 69 touches.
If Pacheco can have a big impact in Super Bowl LVIII, he could very well enter the discussion of being an elite-level running back.
Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback:
To be clear, Patrick Mahomes is an all-time great quarterback even if he never wins another Super Bowl for the rest of his career.
On that front, he has nothing to prove. But he does have something to prove in conversations about potentially being the greatest quarterback of all time, which has been a big topic around this year’s Super Bowl.
His main competition in that conversation comes from Tom Brady, who of course won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004 with the New England Patriots.
A win for Mahomes and the Chiefs would match Brady’s back-to-back Super Bowl victories and put him on a similar pace in terms of championships that Brady was on at 28 years of age.
At the end of the day, the “G.O.A.T.” debate will always be a matter of opinion. And even Mahomes recently said that he has a long way to go to be seen as a better quarterback than Brady.
Could Mahomes get seven rings by the time it's all said and done?
His answer ⬇️
— NFL (@NFL) February 6, 2024
But if Mahomes wants to be considered the best of all time, winning Sunday’s matchup against the 49ers will go a long way in legitimizing his case.