Super Bowl LIV is as much about the history of the NFL as it is the future of the league.
Between the two teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers have won six Super Bowl titles and appeared in the game in six of the seven decades it has been played. The 49ers have claimed five of those six championships.
In Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and others, Sunday’s game (6:30 p.m. ET, Fox) also illustrates where the NFL is headed.
Here are 10 ways to tell the story of Super Bowl LIV:
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1. Super Bowl regulars
The years in which the Chiefs or 49ers appeared in the Super Bowl and how they fared:
2. Winning quarterbacks
Mahomes and 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be making their first Super Bowl appearances.
(Garoppolo was on the New England Patriots when they won Super Bowls in 2015 and ’17 but did not play in the game.)
For Mahomes, the NFL MVP last season and only 24, this could be the first of many opportunities to win a title. However, it takes more than one, or even two or three, Super Bowl victories to be counted among the greats.
3. Head to head
The Chiefs and 49ers were among the top teams in the NFL in multiple categories this season.
4. Points. Lots of them
Last year’s Super Bowl was the lowest-scoring game in history, with the Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. The Chiefs and 49ers, on the other hand, may combine to score more points in the first quarter Sunday than were scored in all of Super Bowl LIII.
Heck, these teams, which combined for 72 points in their conference championship victories, could even threaten the Super Bowl record for points in a game.
5. Run vs. pass
The 49ers’ offense is more reliant on the run than the Chiefs.
In the NFC championship game, Garoppolo attempted only eight passes while the 49ers had 285 yards rushing.
On the flip side, Mahomes has thrown eight touchdown passes in two playoff games after passing for more than 4,000 yards and 26 TDs during the regular season – despite missing two games with an injury.
At the end of the day, though, both teams averaged almost the exact same number of yards on offense — 381 for the 49ers and 379 for the Chiefs.
6. The Brady book
Finding a spot in the record book as a quarterback will be tough for Mahomes and Garoppolo on Sunday. Most of those marks are held by Tom Brady.
7. Here’s the catch
Behind every great quarterback is often a great receiver or tight end.
When it comes to the Super Bowl, Patriots receivers dominate the all-time lists. Four Patriots are among the top seven for receptions in a game; five of the top seven on the career reception list are Patriots. But Hall of Famer Jerry Rice remains the gold standard.
8. The long run
The 49ers like to run the ball, but it will be a challenge to surpass the great running back games in Super Bowl history. Timmy Smith of the Washington Redskins is the only running back to top 200 yards in a Super Bowl – a record that’s stood for more than 30 years.
9. Tackle this
The record holders on defense are as varied as the running backs with one notable exception: The top two tackle leaders played in the same game (XXXVIII) on the same team (Carolina Panthers):
10. A century of champions
Assembling all of these teams and players in one place is a reminder of how enduring some franchises have been, as well as how fleeting even Super Bowl appearances can be.