It seemed like a good idea at the time.
The San Francisco 49ers beat the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV and the following year opened their preseason in Denver. By my numbers, preseason or not, this was a perfect spot for the Broncos to get the cheap revenge on the team that ravaged them the season before.
Didn’t turn out that way.
The defending Super Bowl Champion 49ers beat Denver again, this time by a score of 27-24. So much for motivation being the determining factor in the preseason.
That is not to expel the notion that motivation can play a role in who wins a preseason game, there are a number of examples where it has appeared to be a determining factor in a preseason result. That may be what bettors are backing today when San Francisco hosts the Kansas City Chiefs.
Two years ago, the Chiefs staged a fourth quarter rally to upend the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV and today these two teams meet for the first time since that contest. Does this give the 49ers an edge over the team that has represented the AFC in the past two Super Bowls?
It would seem so, and perhaps that is why more than 70% of the wagers on this contest are backing the 49ers at home. But, before we run out to bet against the Chiefs, remember the lessons of 1990 which clearly illustrated something more influential than past results is likely to determine the winner in San Francisco tonight.
Here is something that is a more consistent factor in determining a preseason winner than past results, a healthy quarterback competition. The 49ers have one.
While Patrick Mahomes is locked in as the Chiefs starter, and in all likelihood Jimmy Garoppolo will open the season behind center for the 49ers, San Francisco did use their first pick in this year’s draft to select Trey Lance, who they see as their long term answer.
It is not so much that Garoppolo isn’t capable when playing, but his recent series of injuries make him less reliable than an old car trying to start on a cold morning. When Garoppolo joined the 49ers in a trade with the New England Patriots in 2017, he took a team that was 1-10 through 11 games and notched five straight wins to close out the regular season. The following year, Garoppolo was injured early in the campaign and the 49ers struggled without him.
In 2919, he stayed healthy for the entire season and guided San Francisco to the Super Bowl, their eventual loss to the Chiefs. Then, last year, Garoppolo was sidelined again with injuries for most of the season and the 49ers fell to the cellar in the NFC West.
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has been impressed with Lance’s work during training camp but is quick to add that game experience in managing all the elements of the job will be his next step in the learning curve.
Today, Lance is expected to see extended playing time in order to begin the process of developing as a top flight NFL quarterback. Garoppolo’s time on the field is simply a case of him looking to keep his job and, in his case particularly, not get hurt.
The 49ers may not win this game because of revenge for their Super Bowl loss, but I still like that factor added onto more important elements.
Qoxhi Picks: San Francisco 49ers (-2½) over Kansas City Chiefs