Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs Jan 30, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Francisco 49ers and Kansas Chiefs helmets and the Vince Lombardi trophy at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LVIII is set to take place next Sunday between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, a matchup that is already closely lined and could be decided by the thinnest of margins.

With that in mind, individual performances in the game could loom large in this matchup. Let’s take a look at the ten most important players in the upcoming game, five from each team.

San Francisco 49ers:

Fred Warner, Linebacker:

Warner has widely been regarded as one of the best linebackers in all of football, particularly when it comes to his ability to stop the run.

The 49ers’ run defense could be a big talking point in this matchup, as the Chiefs have found new life in their rushing attack thanks to the emergence of star running back Isiah Pacheco this year.

In two of the three postseason games for the Chiefs, Pacheco has received over 20 carries, finding the endzone in all three games.

While the 49ers rush defense had been great in the regular season, that has not been the case in the postseason thus far, allowing an average of 159 rushing yards in their two playoff games against the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.

Making the Chiefs a one-dimensional offense will be the name of the game for the 49ers defense. And that will start with Warner making his presence known in stopping the rushing game of the Chiefs.

Nick Bosa, Defensive End:

Similar to Warner, Bosa is widely regarded as one of the best edge rushers in football. And he will be tasked with the difficult task of putting pressure on Patrick Mahomes, something teams have struggled to do thus far this postseason.

In three postseason games, Mahomes has been sacked just twice. Allowing a quarterback as great as Mahomes to stay clean in the pocket leads to some obvious issues for any defense.

You could also add in Chase Young to this conversation in terms of importance in this matchup. But of the two, Bosa is the far more established player, so it may be on him to find his way into the Chiefs backfield.

Jake Moody, Kicker:

It may sound crazy to have a kicker as one of the most important players in this game. But Moody finds his way on this list because of the notable struggles he has had throughout much of the season, particularly lately in the postseason.

Moody missed a field goal attempt in both their divisional round matchup against the Green Bay Packers and in the NFC Championship Game against the Detroit Lions.

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs have Harrison Butker, who is as reliable as anyone in the NFL. If this game comes down to the kicking game, the Chiefs very clearly have an advantage on paper.

It may be a tough ask for a rookie kicker like Moody to perform on the grandest stage. But the 49ers simply won’t be able to afford for Moody to make any mistakes in a game that is expected to be extremely close throughout.

Deebo Samuel, Wide Receiver:

The 49ers have a plethora of receiving options to choose from on offense that could easily be on the list instead of Samuel, including Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle.

How, it can certainly be argued that the true gamebreaker on offense for the 49ers is Samuel thanks to his ability to make defenders miss after the catch.

If Samuel can make some impact plays in the matchup, it could help relieve some pressure from his quarterback, Brock Purdy, who has never performed on this kind of stage before.

Brock Purdy, Quarterback:

Simply put, Purdy is out of his depth in terms of experience when it comes to this kind of stage compared to Patrick Mahomes.

This obviously begs the question. Will there be any jitters from Purdy in this matchup facing off against a quarterback like Mahomes who is already receiving some arguments of potentially being the greatest quarterback of all time?

Thus far, Purdy has risen to every single stage that he has ever been on, performing quite well in both postseason matchups that got the 49ers to this point.

If he does perform well and beats Mahomes and the Chiefs in this matchup, there will be very few critics left of him.

Kansas City Chiefs:

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Wide Receiver:

Valdes-Scantling is part of a Chiefs wide receiving corps that has been pretty disappointing this season aside from rookie Rashee Rice.

The Chiefs have been able to overcome not having a true third option in the passing game behind Rice and Travis Kelce. But against a team as good as the 49ers, they will likely need someone like Valdes-Scantling to make a few plays in order to win this game.

He did just that for them in the AFC Championship Game, coming up with perhaps the biggest catch of the game in the fourth quarter to help ice the game.

The likes of Rashee Rice and Travis Kelce are clearly more impactful players for the Chiefs. But at this point, their production has been pretty much a given, making Valdez-Scantling arguably a more important player in this game.

Valdez-Scantling has always been a deep-ball threat that can break a game open if he can make the big catch down the field. And if he can come up with even a few big catches like he did in the AFC Championship, he could play a big factor in a Chiefs victory.

Nick Bolton, Linebacker:

Bolton will be tasked with several different tasks in this game that make him an uber-important player in this game.

He will likely either be forced to cover either Christian McCaffrey or George Kittle at times in passing situations, both incredibly difficult players to cover in different ways.

As the team’s leading tackler on defense this postseason, he will also be tasked with helping stop the 49ers’ premiere rushing attack led by McCaffrey.

It will obviously be a team effort to keep these tasks in check. But Bolton will likely receive the bulk of the pressure when it comes to those responsibilities. And if he struggles in any way, it could be a long night for the Chiefs defense.

Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle:

In order to stop the 49ers’ prolific offense, the Chiefs will need to generate interior pressure, both to stop the rushing game and Christian McCaffrey and to get to Brock Purdy under center.

Enter Chris Jones, one of the best interior pass rushers in all of football. Jones’ impact on this game will likely go far further than just the box score. On the season, he ranks only behind Aaron Donald at his position in terms of pass-rush win rate.

If Jones can make an impact in this game, it could completely change how effective the 49ers offense is throughout this game.

Isiah Pacheco, Running Back:

As I stated in my breakdown of Fred Warner, the performance of Isiah Pacheco could be the most underrated factor for the Chiefs in this game.

The rushing game for the Chiefs opens up every aspect of their offense. And the stats tell the story when it comes to Pacheco’s impact on this team.

Including the postseason, the Chiefs have an 11-2 record this season in games where Pacheco has rushed for at least 50 yards. When that isn’t the case, they have just a 1-3 record.

He has also scored in each of the three Chiefs postseason games, which only adds to the kind of impact that he makes on this team.

If he is able to take advantage of what has been a suspect 49ers rushing defense in recent weeks, he could be the unsung hero for the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.

Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback:

What really needs to be said about Patrick Mahomes that isn’t already common knowledge? The two-time MVP is not only looking for his third Super Bowl ring in this game, but also his third Super Bowl MVP award.

Not only is Mahomes probably the most important player in Super Bowl LVIII. He is probably the most important player in all of football for what he does for the Chiefs offense.

He will be up against a stout 49ers offense that could make his life difficult. But the same was said ahead of the AFC Championship Game with the Ravens’ defense.

Simply put, if Mahomes is able to bring his A-game in this matchup, it will be very difficult for the 49ers and Brock Purdy to keep pace in this game.

About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.