AP Sports Writer
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Chiefs and 49ers went through their final practices Friday in preparation for the Super Bowl, and both coaches said their teams have everyone healthy and available for when they step on the field at Hard Rock Stadium.
The Chiefs have listed four players on the injury report all week in defensive tackle Chris Jones, center Austin Reiter and tight ends Travis Kelce and Deon Yelder. But all of their injuries appear to be minimal, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that Kelce in particular had a solid week of practice and was “moving around pretty good” on his sore knee.
Their practice at the Miami Dolphins’ training facility lasted about 1 hour, 15 minutes, and began with special teams drills before concluding with red zone work on offense and defense. Players did not wear pads as temperatures hit 80 degrees.
“I thought they had good energy. Flew around,” Reid said. “Kind of polished it up. All-in-all another positive day.”
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt and his family, which has owned the franchise since its inception in the days of the old AFL, watched the workout from the sideline. Hunt spoke briefly to the team afterward.
The Chiefs will have a mock game walk-through on Saturday, which gives them one last chance to get substitutions and other details in order. There is also the team picture to take and a few other odds and ends to finish up.
“I don’t want to play,” Reid said, “but yeah, I’m ready to coach.”
Just to the south in Coral Gables, the 49ers went through a 70-minute workout at the University of Miami practice facility and everyone participated. That included running back Tevin Coleman, who had been limited in practice the previous two days because of a shoulder injury.
“He’s worked his tail off to get healthy,” San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He’s good to go. He’s confident.”
The 49ers, who also will hold a final walk-through Saturday, have kept things light in the days before the Super Bowl. Their bus actually arrived at the facility about 45 minutes early Friday, so the players tricked their coaches by swapping jerseys — defensive end Nick Bosa and safety Jimmie Ward switched, and Coleman wore fullback Kyle Juszczyk’s No. 44.
“They surprised us with it,” Shanahan said. “They are loose and feeling good, and they had fun with it.”
At the conclusion of practice, Shanahan asked left tackle Joe Staley — the team’s longest-tenured player — to break down the huddle. Shanahan’s 10-year-old son, Carter, also visited practice and watched as they wrapped things up.
“It was neat to bring him here,” said Shanahan, whose own father, Mike, led the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins. “I remember when I used to do it. He doesn’t realize how cool it is, but he’ll realize it later, just like I did.”
Stoneman Douglas players take part in Super Bowl rehearsal
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The dress rehearsal for the Super Bowl is incredibly elaborate, and the NFL needed some football players to help ensure everything on Sunday will go according to plan.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, welcome to the Super Bowl.
About 50 players from the high school in Parkland, Florida — the place where 17 students, teachers and staff were killed in a massacre on Feb. 14, 2018 — got to take the field at Hard Rock Stadium on Friday afternoon for a few hours, pretending to be members of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
They ran some plays to help television crews work on their camera angles, went through a walkthrough of the pregame coin toss with referee Bill Vinovich, even lined up just as the Chiefs and 49ers will for “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and some of them even got a quick meet-and-greet with anthem singer Demi Lovato afterward.
“They basically split us up, one side was the Chiefs and the other side was the 49ers,” Stoneman Douglas coach Quentin Short said. “The smiles I saw on these kids’ faces, the excitement of running out of the tunnels just like the teams will, they were having a blast, man. To be on the actual field the Super Bowl is going to be played on, it was awesome.”
The NFL has used high school players as stand-ins at the Super Bowl rehearsals for some time. And when it came time to extend a team an invitation this year, the Miami Dolphins apparently knew which school to ask.
“The Dolphins and the NFL and Fox reached out to us,” Short told The Associated Press. “They asked us if we’d be interested and obviously I said, ‘Heck, yeah.’ There was no way we were turning down this opportunity.”
49ers rewarded with patience with Ward, Armstead
MIAMI (AP) — Jimmie Ward and Arik Armstead perhaps best symbolized the San Francisco 49ers’ fall from contender to also-ran in the post-Jim Harbaugh era.
The former first-round picks struggled through the starts of their careers as they battled through injuries and bounced around positions in search of the best role.
Everything has fallen into place for both Ward and Armstead this season as they have anchored a defense that has San Francisco one win away from its record-tying sixth Super Bowl title.
But for the two players who have gone from perceived busts to stars this season, none of that will matter if they can’t cap it with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
“We’re nobody until we earn it,” Ward said. “To be honest, if we lose this game, we’re nobody. Nobody will never know us in history.”
The two defensive standouts appeared on their way to forgettable careers with Ward missing 29 because of a variety of injuries his first five seasons and Armstead ending the 2016 and ’17 seasons on injured reserve and making little impact when healthy.
Their performances were so pedestrian that many questioned the decisions when Armstead returned this season on the fifth-year option worth more than $9 million and Ward signing a one-year, $4.5 million deal to remain in San Francisco as a free agent.
“I have always believed in myself,” Armstead said. “But being a part of this team and around these guys has been so special for me this year. We enjoy being around each other so much and playing together, we have a lot of fun out there and you can’t take that for granted.”
Chiefs’ Hill relishes Super Bowl run after ruinous offseason
MIAMI (AP) — Just over six months ago, Tyreek Hill was uncertain whether he would ever play another game in the NFL.
He had become the object of scorn among many Kansas City Chiefs fans when audio surfaced early last year in which his then-fiancee accused him of hurting their 3-year-old son. The team banned him from its facility, the district attorney began an investigation, and the NFL and the Kansas Department for Children and Families got involved.
He went from potentially landing a massive contract to potentially looking for a new line of work.
“It was hard,” Hill said. “I’m not going to lie.”
All of which makes this week at the Super Bowl seem so much like a dream.
The district attorney eventually declined to press charges after being unable to determine who had caused the injuries to the child. The NFL decided not to suspend Hill, who had been kicked off his team at Oklahoma State after another domestic violence incident, because it could not conclude that he had violated its personal conduct policy.
The Chiefs immediately welcomed him back in time for training camp, and that big contract he was close to landing? Hill put pen to paper on the $54 million, three-year extension ahead of the first preseason game in August.
“I feel like I’m truly blessed. Each and every day I get up and play the game I love, be around people who are loving, and I get to be around my kids and be in their lives,” Hill said this week.
“I feel like if God gives you breath in your lungs, you’re blessed right there, because that’s just another opportunity to be a better you than yesterday. And I’m still working on myself each and every day, to be a better man and a better father and all of it.”
The 49ers play old-school football with a modern twist
MIAMI (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers play old-school football with a twist.
Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense is run-oriented, but the Niners don’t just line up and play power football. Shanahan designed a creative scheme featuring a variety of motions, jet-sweeps and play-action that takes pressure off quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
“The more you see how people try to defend you and how people stop you, the more things you try to put in to counteract that,” Shanahan said.
San Francisco had the league’s No. 2 rushing offense in the regular season and it has been even better in the playoffs. Garoppolo threw only eight passes in the NFC championship game against Green Bay because he didn’t have to do much. Raheem Mostert ran for 220 yards and the Niners totaled 285 on the ground. They had 186 yards rushing in a playoff win over Minnesota.
“It’s more exotic smash-mouth because they don’t go right at you the entire time but they still want to pound you into submission,” Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis said.
Shanahan borrowed some of his dad’s ideas, adding his own flavor to the zone blocking system. Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls with John Elway and Terrell Davis in Denver in the 1990s. Davis combined for 3,758 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns in those two seasons. The Niners don’t have one guy like Davis so they relied on Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. They also give the ball to some wide receivers more than other teams.
“They use deceptions with all kinds of motions, smokes, behinds and arounds to create backside issues,” Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk said. “They basically use old-school zone plays that his dad ran in Denver. I like the creativeness and the way he’s doing it and it doesn’t matter which back is back there, they’ll gouge you.”
Credit Andy Reid’s parents for Chiefs coach’s creative plays
MIAMI (AP) — Andy Reid is often asked how he comes up with the wild plays that have become a hallmark of the Kansas City Chiefs.
His son provided the best explanation yet this week.
Big Reid was was born to parents, Britt Reid explained, who imparted in him wildly different skill sets. The science, math and traditional book smarts came from Elizabeth Reid, who was a radiologist. The creativity and artistry came from Walter Reid, who was a scenic artist in Hollywood who designed backgrounds and props for television, film and stage shows.
“That’s two drastically different people,” said Britt, who coaches Chiefs outside linebackers. “My dad is actually a great artist himself. He can do caricatures — I mean, a lot of stuff. Carvings, stuff like that. Of anybody. He’ll just whip them up. So he’s got that side, then he’s got that intellectual side that his mother passed along, the more refined, calculating side.
“I think that serves him well, in this business especially.”
Britt said his father will often doodle plays on 5-by-7 note cards in his spare time, then share them with the rest of the coaches and quarterbacks. If they like an idea, they’ll try the play design in practice. One or two a week usually make it from the practice field all the way to the game plan. When they work, the Chiefs coach will usually smile and wink.
“When you think about it,” Britt said, “it all makes sense. These plays are basically art. It’s all about lines. You draw those route trees, you’re drawing art, really. It’s easy to see the connection.”
And that’s part of why the Chiefs play San Francisco on Sunday in the Super Bowl.
Legs of 49ers’ Gould, Chiefs’ Butker could decide Super Bowl
MIAMI (AP) — Robbie Gould wasn’t sure he’d ever be in this position again, this close to a Super Bowl title.
Heck, he didn’t even know a few months ago if he’d still be with the San Francisco 49ers.
“Yeah, it’s been,” Gould said with a pause. “It’s been interesting.”
The veteran kicker was coming off another outstanding season a year ago when the 49ers placed the franchise tag on him last February. Frustrated with stagnant contract talks, Gould requested a trade. He wanted out – to be closer to his wife and three children in Chicago, where he played his first 11 NFL seasons.
But, in mid-July, Gould ended his holdout as he and the 49ers agreed on a four-year, $19 million contract extension. Now, he has a chance to cap a hectic 12 months with an elusive — and, at one time, seemingly unlikely — championship.
“I think it’s been a year where I’ve been able to learn more and grow as a player and a person,” Gould said. “The ultimate goal that I’ve always had was to win a Super Bowl and we have that opportunity this weekend.”
Not only that, Gould could end up playing a key role in whether the 49ers get the franchise’s sixth title. Same for Kansas City’s Harrison Butker, who could help deliver the Chiefs their first Super Bowl win since 1970.
In a game for which the betting line has been just 1 or 1 1/2 points in the Chiefs’ favor since the odds came out almost two weeks ago, the big legs on either sideline could make the difference.
“That’s part of the position,” Butker said. “I think that’s what makes it fun. I mean, I don’t think anybody would want to be playing this position if it didn’t come down to big moments. You know, I think those pressure moments are really where you can shine and show off kind of all that hard work that you’ve been putting in.”
Four times in Super Bowl history, a kicker has decided in the closing moments which team was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in a shower of confetti — and which team was back in the locker room wondering what could have been.
Hippo Fiona makes a mess of her Super Bowl pick
CINCINNATI (AP) — Bettors looking for an edge in picking Sunday’s Super Bowl winner may (or may not) want to consider the selection thrown up by Fiona, the hippopotamus heartthrob at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
Zoo keepers on Thursday placed two “enrichment” toys in front of her, marked with the logos of the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. While the plan called for Fiona to nudge one of the items with her snout to indicate her pick, she instead chose to lose her leafy green lunch on the Chiefs’ item, WLWT-TV reports.
Fiona’s premature birth three years ago drew international attention. She has since grown to 1,200 pounds (544 kilograms), roughly the weight of four NFL offensive linemen. It’s the third year she has handicapped the Super Bowl, correctly picking the Philadelphia Eagles to beat the New England Patriots in 2018, but missing on the Los Angeles Rams upsetting the Patriots in 2019.
Fiona celebrated her third birthday Jan. 24. She weighed just 29 pounds (13.2 kilograms) at birth, 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) less than the lowest recorded birth weight for her species.
It’s unclear whether Fiona knew the point spread for Sunday’s game. The Chiefs are favored by a point.
Family ties: Fox’s Joe Buck sentimental calling Super Bowl
Ever since the Kansas City Chiefs qualified for Super Bowl 54, Joe Buck has been on a sentimental journey. It was 50 years ago that his father, Hall of Fame announcer Jack Buck, called his only Super Bowl on television when the Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings.
But as Buck arrived in Miami this week to call the game for Fox, his focus was more on preparing for Sunday’s matchup between the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
“It is a cool story for my family and I, but once kickoff happens it is about who is making the catch and tackling,” he said.
Joe Buck watched a restored telecast of Super Bowl 4 last week. The thing that struck him the most is that the game was part of what would be a transformative year for his father. Jack Buck took over as the top announcer for St. Louis Cardinals games in 1970 after Harry Caray was fired.
It also happened when Joe Buck was only 8 months old.
“My dad had a lot of life changes off and on the air. His career was about to take off and he was about to ascend to his signature job that gave him the impact that he had,” Joe Buck said.
Super Bowl 4 is also memorable because it elevated Chiefs coach Hank Stram to a popular figure after he was mic’d up by NFL Films. Stram became Jack Buck’s partner for “Monday Night Football” as well as 17 Super Bowls for CBS Radio.
Joe Buck forged a tight friendship with Stram as he accompanied his father on many trips.
“The NFL film of the Super Bowl was how he was 24 hours a day. That’s why watching it makes me laugh,” Buck said. “What made people love him is that he wore his emotions on his sleeve.”
Buck credits going to those games for his indoctrination into calling football, and it translates into the way he interacts with Troy Aikman during games.
“I don’t know if we have the room that they did on the radio as far as talking, but I think that natural back and forth where two people are listening and feeding off each other is when broadcasts are great,” he said.
Almost half of US sports fans want Super Bowl Monday holiday
NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Nearly half of American sports fans would give up one of their other work holidays in order to have a day off after Super Bowl Sunday, according to a survey commissioned by the daily fantasy sports company DraftKings.
The survey, which was conducted by the polling firm SurveyGizmo, found that more than 40% would rather work Presidents Day, Martin Luther King’s birthday or Columbus Day than the Monday after the NFL championship game.
About one in 10 would even prefer to work Christmas or Thanksgiving, and still more would give up the Fourth of July, New Year’s Day or Memorial Day.
“We were curious as to what extent this was a national holiday in itself,” DraftKings president and co-founder Matt Kalish said. “People like to go out to watch the game. They don’t want to be thinking, ‘I’m going to get home at 12:30 or 1 a.m. I don’t want to be getting up to go to work the next morning.'”
Torrential rains overshadow Post Malone pre-Super Bowl show
MIAMI (AP) — Torrential rains in Miami overshadowed rapper Post Malone’s pre-Super Bowl show, ultimately shutting down the red carpet and delaying his set until the early morning hours of Saturday. Nearby, the weather forced Harry Styles to cancel his show.
Friday night’s Bootsy Bellows show promised to be a star-studded event as the Los Angeles-area club’s pop-up took over a picturesque island in Miami, with VIP guests slated to arrive by yacht. But relentless rains caused multiple delays and confusion.
A DJ entertained the crowd for hours until actor-comedian Kevin Hart, who was supposed to host, awkwardly came onstage after 2 a.m. Hart introduced Post Malone — but the rapper didn’t appear.
“Make some noise for my guy Mr. … what, well that’s gonna be a tough pickle,” Hart said to someone offstage, before shouting, “I love you,” to the audience and walking off.
The DJ took over again and attempted to pump up the crowd until the show’s headline finally took the stage about 15 minutes later at 2:30 a.m. Post Malone opened with his hit “Wow.” before abruptly stopping to apologize profusely for the weather.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who walked through a (expletive) foot of water just to come hang out tonight,” he said.
Nearby, Harry Styles’ show was evacuated because of severe conditions. Styles said he was disappointed, tweeting that “the fire department would not let us do the show under any circumstances. Please stay safe.”