When it comes to total running back production, the 49ers are way ahead of the Chiefs on the season. San Francisco leads the league in running back rushing yards, as they ran the ball 427 (2nd) times for 2,051 yards (1st). Their 4.8 yards per carry ranked fifth and their 19 rushing touchdown were first. They were a dominate rushing team. The Chiefs running backs ran the ball 312 (28th) times for 1,292 yards (22nd). Their 13 rushing touchdowns ranked 13th and their 4.14 yards per carry ranked 21st.
The Chiefs and 49ers had plenty of running back injuries this season, but there’s no doubt that the 49ers running game is more sophisticated and able to create mismatches more often than the Chiefs have, as they don’t rely as much on the run.
1. Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
Mostert absolutely went off in the NFC Championship game, rushing 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers. The 49ers can run any back out there and put up good numbers, but Mostert has proven to be the most reliable and explosive this season. Shanahan will ride the hot hand at running back without any qualms, but there’s no doubt that Mostert has been the hottest and his main competition, Tevin Coleman, might not be 100 percent for the big game.
Kansas City has improved their run defense to end the season and slowed down Derrick Henry in the Championship game, but the 49ers rushing offense is a whole other can of worms and Mostert is a better receiver than Henry while the Chiefs give up a ton of receptions and yards to running backs.
2. Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs
Williams has been on a touchdown tear of late, scoring seven times in his last four games. he’s played well, but hasn’t been efficient on the ground so far in the playoffs, rushing 29 times for 92 yards but rushing for three touchdowns. He is set up for touchdowns in this strong offense, but he gets a lot of his statistics through the air and the 49ers are one of the best teams at covering running backs, ranking first in DVOA. The 49ers are also strong against the run, allowing just 3.7 yards per carry and 70 yards rushing per game over their last ten games.
3. Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers
Coleman’s separated shoulder is a problem and if he doesn’t start practicing soon, he’ll be hard to trust in the Super Bowl, but if he does play, coach Shanahan has shown a propensity for Coleman over Matt Breida, especially after Breida’s recent fumbling issues. Coleman has been pedestrian this season with just four-yards per carry, especially compared to Mostert, but he has proven himself around the goal line and hasn’t fumbled this year.
4. Matt Brieda, San Francisco 49ers
Brieda is a great runner and again averaged over five-yards per carry, but some recent fumbles has him in Shanahan’s doghouse. If Coleman can’t go and Breida has shown well in practices coming into the game, he could see a a big boost in work or again be relegated to emergency duties like he was in the Championship game. Trying to predict his workload will be tough, but his ability gives him a puncher’s chance if he can get a couple touches.
5. Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs
Thompson saw 25 snaps to Williams 58 in the Championship game and 20 to 62 in the divisional round while LeSean McCoy had one snap in both games. Thompson ended up only getting one rushing attempt, which he took for seven yards against the Titans and one target, which he didn’t catch.
6. Jeff Wilson, San Francisco 49ers
Wilson was the 49ers goal line back for a time this year and played well, scoring four touchdowns. If Coleman can’t go, there is a chance Wilson gets some extra looks in the Super Bowl and with his ability around the goal line, there is a chance he sneaks in for a touchdown.
7. LeSean McCoy, Kansas City Chiefs
His one snap through the playoffs does not bode well for McCoy. He would likely need an injury to Damien Williams to see enough work to have any fantasy value.