SUPER BOWL LIV WILL OVERSHADOW GROUND HOG’S APPEARANCE
For as many years as one can remember, February 2 has always belonged to the ground hog seeing his shadow so folks can plan for six more weeks of winter weather.
The winter weather will feel like summertime Sunday when Super Bowl LIV kicks off at 5:38 p.m. in toasty-warm Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. It can be seen on Fox TV.
Strangely, the Kansas City Chiefs still are favored to win over San Francisco by a single point. I predicted the Chiefs’ odds would drop and they did from 1½ points last Monday to one point on Monday. I still believe San Francisco will be slightly favored by kickoff Sunday after all of the big money fans on the West Coast place their wagers.
The game will feature Chiefs’ 61-year-old offensive genius Andy Reid against another offensive-minded guru, 49ers’ coach Kyle Shanahan, who appears to be following in his daddy Mike, who was the 49ers’ offensive coordinator when they clobbered the Chargers and Steve Young threw for six touchdowns in Super Bowl XXIX.
However, Reid reached the ultimate game on the throwing arm of former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was born in Tyler and raised in little Whitehouse, a town of 7,000. His dad, Pat Mahomes was a former major league pitcher. The 49ers feature a prolific, ball-control offense that’s almost exclusively a running game plus a bone-crushing defense of coordinator Robert Saleh, which was built by former All-Pro safety John Lynch, who was recently named Pro Football Writers of
America Executive of the Year.
General Manager Lynch did such things as extending the contract of undrafted running back Raheem Mostert, drafting Nick Bosa at No. 2 overall, trading for defensive end Dee Ford, drafting receiver Deebo Samuel in the second round and linebacker Dre Greenlaw in the fifth and signing Kwon Alexander and they all played their part in this year’s success.
Mostert rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns—by halftime—against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. He finished with 220 rushing yards and four TDs. 

The defense is led by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who played for nine years in the same defensive secondary with Orange native Earl Thomas III on the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom. It might be noted that both Sherman and Thomas were named to this year’s All-Pro team on their different teams.
Shanahan, 40, and Reid have both been defeated in the Super Bowl by the New England Patriots. Reid lost to the Pats 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX when he was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Shanahan has the distinction of being the offensive coordinator when the Atlanta Falcons blew a third-quarter 28-3 lead and got too cute with his play-calling, losing 34-28 in overtime. Atlanta’s 25-point collapse was the biggest in Super Bowl history, according to Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle.
The 49ers were second in rushing and second in defense, including first against the pass. In playoff victories against Minnesota and Green Bay, San Francisco averaged 236 yards rushing. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only threw 27 passes in the playoffs, completing 17 for 208 yards.

Kansas City’s rushing game is the weakest part of its offense and the 49ers plan to control it and make Mahomes throw, which may come back to bite them.
“Reid would like to avoid falling behind for a third consecutive playoff game and not force Mahomes to rally the Chiefs against an outstanding defense that features a strong pass rush that gets after the quarterback from every angle. They had 48 sacks in the regular season and added nine more in the playoffs,” according to the article.  Reid, who is completing his 21 st season as a head coach is the sentimental favorite because he is so well-liked and has not yet won a Super Bowl.
Even though I don’t care for the 49ers, they will be extremely difficult to defeat.  But I’m taking Kansas City 41-38 on Reid’s experience and Mahomes arm!!!
KWICKIES…Saturday was a sad day after the news of basketball great Kobe
Bryant dying in a fiery helicopter crash. He was a tremendous family man as well as an unbelievable basketball talent. At this writing, cause for the crash was undetermined.
The NFL’s Pro Bowl game offered many tributes to Kobe Bryant and was won by the AFC 38-33. Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson threw two first-half touchdown passes and was voted the offensive MVP. Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell was named the defensive MVP. Orange’s Earl Thomas III broke up two passes for the AFC from his free safety position and knocked Kirk Cousins into the nickel seats as he rolled out near the sidelines to throw the ball away.
No. 4-ranked San Diego State won its 21 st straight basketball game without a loss as the Aztecs slipped past UNLV 71-67 Sunday to remain the country’s only unbeaten team. The Aztecs broke the school record for the best start in the program’s 99 seasons. It was San Diego State’s eighth straight win on the road.
Tiger Woods fell a bit short of getting his PGA-record 83rd career victory by
finishing tied for ninth in last weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, his home course in San Diego. Mark Leishman came from four shots behind with a seven-under par 65 to win his fifth PGA Tour title.

JUST BETWEEN US…Houston Astros’ owner Jim Crane finally found the right man Tuesday morning to replace A.J. Hinch as the Astro’s manager in 70 year old Dusty Baker.  The veteran skipper has won more than 1800 games in his career and has taken his teams to the playoffs 9 times in 22 seasons.  He’s inheriting a team that should be favored to go a long way in the 2020 playoffs.  Crane did promise that by spring training all players on the 2017 Astros team will apologize for being part of the spying scandal that was recently revealed. Only former Cy Young Award pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who now pitches for the Chicago White Sox, apologized Friday. The other five—Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Josh Reddick, Chris Devenski and Lance McCullers—declined to comment or apologize.

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