When the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers square off in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, it will not just be a meeting of the league's most talented quarterback against its most complete team. It will also be a matchup of the two greatest offensive minds in the game today.

They are in different stages of career and their journeys to this point have been markedly different, but no other offensive coach in the league does creativity and innovation to the level of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and 49ers boss Kyle Shanahan.

Despite the strength of the Niners defense and the improvements made by that of the Chiefs down the stretch, you will find few in Miami willing to bet against a shootout at Hard Rock Stadium.

It's a 61-year-old veteran against the 40-year-old christened as a genius almost throughout the league, and their intelligence and incredible acumen are sure to help keep the scoreboard ticking in what many expect to be a classic Super Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid

A former assistant of Mike Holmgren with the Green Bay Packers, Reid was schooled in the West Coast offense that Holmgren was immersed in during his time working under the legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh. 

The West Coast is an offense that is built on the principle of getting the ball to the receivers in space from them to gain yardage after the catch. 

Reid has stuck to that tenet of the scheme, but the genius in his approach lies with how he has incorporated the deep pass. The West Coast system may be designed to put players in space, but the Chiefs, through drafting the likes of Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, have added players so fast that they create their own space.

Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes attempted a deep pass of 20 yards or more at the ninth-highest rate in the NFL this season, despite missing the best part of 11 quarters with a knee injury, with the 2.4 yards of separation from the nearest defender his receivers averaged on those passes the second-highest amount in the league.

Such is Reid's faith in Mahomes' arm and the speed of his receivers, that one of the Chiefs' most frequent play-calls if four verticals – essentially just four receivers running straight down the field.

The raw pace the Chiefs have at their disposal allows Reid the luxury of stretching defenses deep, but he also uses their physical gifts to test opponents horizontally as well. Reid will frequently send his running back in motion to shift defenders over to a certain side of the field and make them respect the possibility of a short throw to that area, opening greater pockets of space downfield.

Respect for such motion is a result of the impact Hill has made on jet sweeps and reverses out of the backfield, the former fifth-round pick adept at ripping off significant gains through plays that are effectively an extension of the running game.

Further downfield, Reid also utilizes the speed of his wideouts with deep crossing patterns that give defenders, as Raiders safety Karl Joseph found out in Week 2, a difficult decision to make as to who to cover. The combination of the Chiefs' speed and Reid's play-calls so often puts defenses in a bind, which is something his opposite number Shanahan seemingly revels in finding new ways to do.

San Francisco 49ers – Kyle Shanahan

The only team that ranks above the Chiefs in average separation on deep passes is the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo's completion percentage of 58.1 on deep throws is the best in the league, above Mahomes in second (47.1).

San Francisco and Garoppolo's presence at the top of those respective lists will surprise many given their postseason successes over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers were built around a dominant running game.

But the fact the Niners are able to flourish on the ground and send it deep is testament to Shanahan, who creates huge holes for his troop of electric running backs with an outside zone scheme that is an extension of what his father Mike ran in Denver and Washington. Shanahan also does an excellent job of recognising a defense's weak link and relentlessly taking advantage of it to get his receivers open.

A master of misdirection and disguise, no coach in the NFL relies on motion and play-action more than Shanahan, and the results have been devastatingly impressive for a team that finished the regular season second in points per game with 29.9.

The two players that are most crucial to Shanahan's consistent success with deception are Kyle Juszczyk and rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

Juszczyk is the Niners' Swiss Army knife. Many balked at the $21millon contract the Niners gave the fullback in 2017, but he has more than proved his worth.

The Niners do not use him as strictly a traditional fullback, they deploy him as a tight end and as a slot receiver as well as in the backfield, and the fact he has the athleticism to block and catch passes from each of those spots makes it near-impossible to decipher what his responsibility on a given play.

Juszczyk was the lead blocker on Samuel's touchdown on a reverse in the 49ers' crucial Week 17 win at the Seattle Seahawks that clinched a bye and homefield advantage in the playoffs for San Francisco.

Samuel has slotted seamlessly into the offense, racking 802 receiving yards, but the threat of him as a runner out of the backfield has allowed Shanahan to add another dimension to his attack, forcing defenders to hesitate when he comes across the formation, as they did when he ended up being the lead blocker for one of four Raheem Mostert touchdowns in the NFC Championship game.

Stopping the Niners' diverse ground attack will be a primary focus of Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo but, with Shanahan being such a savant of disguise and having the likes of Juszczyk and Samuel at his disposal, it is difficult how to see that goal can be achieved in what will be a points fest if he and Reid perform at their play-calling peak.

This Sunday the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs will hope their gameplans can deliver the Super Bowl LIV title in Miami.

Though the Niners are viewed as the team with the vaunted defense, and the Chiefs the explosive offense, the reality is San Francisco scored more points per game during the regular season (29.9 to 28.2) while Kansas City allowed fewer (19.3 to 19.4).

To preview Super Bowl LIV, we used Stats Perform's advanced analytics and data analysis to profile the area where the game is likely to be won and lost - in the trenches.

 

SAN FRANCISCO'S FRONT FOUR v KANSAS CITY'S OFFENSIVE LINE

The Chiefs have aired the ball out on offense over the past two postseasons, and Patrick Mahomes' career playoff passer rating is 115.00 - the highest of all time among quarterbacks with at least 100 passing attempts.

He might be slowed down if the Niners' front four can continue their excellent pass-rushing production across the regular season and playoffs, though.

According to Stats Perform's metric for adjusted pressure on pass-rush opportunities, rookie Nick Bosa has generated pressure 26.6 per cent of time this season - way higher than his expected pressure rate of 13.1 per cent.

Former Chief Dee Ford, used almost exclusively as a situational pass rusher, also performs well (26.1 per cent compared to an expected pressure rate of 12.4 per cent), while both DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead (19.8 per cent and 18.8 per cent) also way exceeded their expected pressure rate (10.8 and 11.5 per cent).

Mahomes' two tackles will therefore be key, and while one has excelled, the other has struggled.

Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has allowed pressures on only 6.23 per cent of his 369 pass-protection opportunities, having been expected to give up pressure on 10.74 per cent of those snaps.

Schwartz has performed way better than the Niners' two bookends Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey in the allowed pressures category (10.08 per cent and 10.73 per cent).

However, where Bosa et al may have more joy is against former first-overall pick Eric Fisher. The left tackle, who only played half of the regular-season games due to injury, allowed pressure on 17.50 per cent of his 160 pass-protection opportunities - considerably higher than any offensive lineman playing on Sunday.

Look for 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to attack the weakness on that Chiefs line - Mahomes' blindside.

 

SAN FRANCISCO'S RUSHING ATTACK V KANSAS CITY'S RUN STUFFERS

This postseason the 49ers have 44.5 rushing attempts per game - the most of any team in a single postseason since 1976. The Niners clearly want to run the ball. A lot.

The men tasked with clogging up gaps and making that a less-than-appealing strategy are Kansas City's defensive tackles Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Mike Pennel.

When it comes to Stats Perform's run-disruptions metric - which measures how often a player disrupts a designed run play - Jones and Pennel excel.

From his 184 run snaps, Jones has produced disruptions 27.2 per cent of the time, considerably more than his expected disruption rate of 15.3 per cent.

Pennel, who has proven to be a nice pickup since joining in October, produced disruptions on 27.3 per cent of his 55 run snaps, with Nnadi at 19.8 per cent.

When it comes to the 49ers' rushing attack, San Francisco tend to ride the hot hand. Matt Breida led the team in yardage on the ground in September, Tevin Coleman had that honour in October and November, and Raheem Mostert has been the most productive back in December and the postseason.

Mostert has had 194 touches of the ball in the regular season and playoffs - more than any other skill-position player involved at Super Bowl LIV.

He has forced missed tackles on 24.2 per cent of those touches, the second best among running backs in the NFL.

Should he be asked to carry the load in Miami, he may be advised to run away from Jones and Pennel.

There aren't many similarities between the San Francisco 49ers and Conor McGregor.

While McGregor plies his trade in blood-and-thunder five-round contests in the UFC Octagon, the 49ers operate in an NFL world where almost cinematic sporting dramas play out over around three hours in gargantuan stadia.

Yet there is one parallel that runs through McGregor's dominant recent victory over Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone and the Niners' surge to Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Sunday, and it relates to their shared use of a postural therapy method.

The Egoscue Method, created by founder Pete Egoscue, is a form of therapy used to eliminate chronic pain and increase functional mobility.

Jack Nicklaus said Egoscue "totally changed my life" following his well-documented back problems, and should the 49ers lift the Lombardi Trophy by beating the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, two former Egoscue staff members now employed by San Francisco will be among those celebrating.

Niners general manager John Lynch, who joined the team along with head coach Kyle Shanahan in 2017, knew Egoscue from high school, and their long-standing relationship led to the team hiring Elliott Williams and Tom Zheng as functional performance staff.

Brian Bradley, Egoscue's vice president of brand development and strategic partnerships, worked with the 49ers into Lynch's second year in charge but distanced himself from taking credit for San Francisco's success in 2019.

He told Omnisport: "I've worked with John since his college years, into his pro years and then afterward when he was an analyst, and then when he became GM, we knew we were going to do something together because he knows he has the best interests of every player at heart and he knows Egoscue has the foundational movement for that.

"They're in their third year and the reason why this kind of stuff is successful is because John has built a congruent organisation.

"They're not in the Super Bowl because of Egoscue, they're in the Super Bowl because they've drafted five number one draft picks for defensive line. They have an amazing quarterback, they have amazing running backs, they have a great tight end, they have a great team and the athletic trainers and the medical staff work very well with the strength staff, and then the functional performance coaches, who are right in between there, are doing an amazing job.

"They [Williams and Zheng] used to work for me and I hired them but I won't take any credit for anything other than that. They're just good guys."

However, the aforementioned tight end, All-Pro George Kittle, was effusive in his praise when asked about Williams and Zheng ahead of the Niners' seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

Kittle, who recently revealed he has played with a torn labrum since 2018, told reporters: "I've worked with them almost every single day since I got here. They've been one of the most important parts of my recovery every single week, just from a function movement standpoint.

"After a game when you get hit a bunch of times, your body's kind of out of whack and they always help me get it back to square one which allows me to play week in, week out.

"They're incredible, incredibly professional, they have a great time doing what they do and the amount of guys that they've helped in the three years I've been here has been uncountable."

Getting the body in the right alignment is a key tenet of the Egoscue Method, and Bradley's influence in assisting McGregor in that regard was a factor in his devastating 40-second win over Cowboy.

Bradley said: "I got hooked up with Conor because, after the Khabib [Nurmagomedov] fight, I lost my mind about it.

"The minute I saw the fight with Khabib, I'm looking at it on my television saying, 'This is an unfair fight', and nobody knows that it's unfair because the way that Conor was aligned with his head position, upper back and hips, he wasn't able to drive punches from his hip.

"He was driving from his shoulder and he was trying to breathe with his shoulders, just watch him in the first round and the second round, he's heaving his shoulders up and down to try to breathe.

"My good friend and colleague [motivational speaker] Tony Robbins got a hold of him, and I took pictures of the TV and sent these to Tony and said, 'You've got to get these to McGregor somehow because something in his camp has gone wrong'. About six months later, he says 'Look, I'm meeting with him'.

"The idea of being a hip-driven athlete fully resonated with him [McGregor] because he said, 'I felt like I wasn't getting enough power out of my punch and I couldn't breathe, and I see by the pictures that you took when I was fighting, I see the cause'.

"I gave him five things to do 12 days out from the fight [with Cowboy]. I gave him a more resilient, hip-driven movement so that no matter what he was doing, you weren't going to see a kid who was out of breath in this fight.

"When he was fighting Cowboy, he drove his shoulder into his face four times, he didn't just raise his shoulder up, he drove from the leg through the hip, through the shoulder and up into his face. He won the fight with four punches off his shoulder and one kick to the head."

It is unlikely the 49ers will land such a quick knockout blow against the Chiefs, but if the stars align for them at Hard Rock Stadium, it will be in part because their functional performance staff got their bodies in the right position.

Tom Brady's cryptic social media post left Jalen Ramsey convinced the Patriots quarterback is leaving New England, and DeSean Jackson adamant he is retiring.

He may not be at the Super Bowl for the first time in four years, but Brady ensured he remained the focus in Miami with an uncaptioned black-and-white photo he uploaded to his social media accounts on Thursday.

Six-time Super Bowl champion Brady, who could be seen walking in the tunnel at the Patriots' stadium in the picture, is due to become a free agent this offseason and the 42-year-old has indicated he wants to carry on playing.

The possibility of him starting his 21st NFL season away from New England is therefore seemingly a realistic possibility.

"Oh, that means he's out the door," Los Angeles Rams cornerback Ramsey said when shown the tweet.

"He's out the door. He's definitely out the door. He's gone from New England. That's exactly what that means."

The Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts have been mooted as potential destinations for Brady.

Though when asked where he thought Brady could wind up, Ramsey added: "I don't know, the [Las Vegas] Raiders maybe."

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jackson interpreted the tweet in another way, believing Brady is about to hang up his cleats after 20 glorious years with New England.

"He's walking away. He's retiring," said Jackson, who, like Ramsey, was speaking at the EA SPORTS Bowl.

"I don't know, man, he's walking out the tunnel, man. He's leaving. I'm surprised you don't see a deuce sign! 

"I don't know, he's playing with you, man. He's playing with you."

New York Jets Pro Bowler Jamal Adams had implored Brady to "please leave the AFC East!", yet Jarvis Landry, who plays in the AFC North for the Cleveland Browns, feels it would be strange to see the veteran in a different jersey.

"It's not right to take the Patriots out without Tom Brady there," Landry added.

"Like, does it even count anymore? You know what I mean?

"I'm kidding. But, you know, he's a true competitor.

"I'm sure whatever decision that he makes is going to be the right one for him and he's going to make it work."

If the San Francisco 49ers have a big lead in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, their coaching staff are unlikely to let minds drift to thoughts of confetti, parades and rings.

They may have been forgiven for doing so three years ago when the Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots 28-3 late in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI.

Lady Gaga, the half-time act that year, had long finished singing. But it turned out the fat lady had not.

Back came the Patriots, Kyle Shanahan's offense unable to add further points to their total, and Tom Brady perhaps cementing his legacy as the G.O.A.T by inspiring a 34-28 overtime win that stunned the Falcons.

Shanahan has since left Atlanta, taking the Niners' head-coaching post shortly after, but he admitted this week that Super Bowl scars remain.

The same is true for the staff he brought with him. Those aiming to banish the demons of Houston. Of '28-3'.

"I'm not gonna lie; you still think about it quite a bit," the Niners' passing-game coordinator Mike LaFleur told Omnisport.

Shanahan said the only play he would have called differently in that second half was a second-and-11 pass play that resulted in Matt Ryan being sacked and pushed out of field-goal range.

Yet the Patriots' comeback was a brutal reminder of how even sizeable advantages can be eroded in the NFL.

At Super Bowl LIV, the Niners face a Kansas City Chiefs team that have already overturned 24 and 10-point leads this postseason.

Those who know Shanahan best believe a return to the Super Bowl will not suddenly trigger post-traumatic stress because '28-3' has always been with him ever since it happened.

San Francisco's run-game coordinator Mike McDaniel, who, like LaFleur, worked with Shanahan in Atlanta and at the Cleveland Browns, told Omnisport: "It's just the final game of the season, the stakes are incredibly high but I wouldn’t say that it would venture into Kyle's head any more than any other lesson.

"You'll never forget. Once you lose a Super Bowl like that, you just never feel comfortable with a lead, but that's been every single game since that we've been burying that weight.

"That's a lesson that you'll always be mindful of and you'll lose leads in the future but you'll do your best and better understand and think through how to handle situations - like all coaches that are able to have sustained success like Kyle."

LaFleur is adamant that Shanahan remained an aggressive playcaller in Houston, but he also recognises that, should the Niners find themselves in a similarly dominant position against the Chiefs, no one will be getting complacent.

Not with Patrick Mahomes on the other sideline. Not with '28-3' in their minds.

"I just know up in the box on Sundays, I don't care what the score is," LaFleur added.

"We had numerous times this year where we had big leads and you don't feel comfortable.

"I'm not saying the clock has to hit zero but the knees better be out or a lot of running the ball and the other team not using their timeouts."

Mitch Wishnowsky was out fishing when he got the phone call that changed his life.

He was a 20-year-old glazier in Western Australia, slowly getting back to normal after suffering from dengue fever in Bali.

The voice on the other end of the line had little sympathy, though.

"Mitch, are you done messing about in Bali?" John Smith asked.

"Stop wasting your life."

It was the first time Wishnowsky had spoken to Smith, the head coach of Prokick Australia, an organisation set up to help those Down Under have a career in American football.

"[He was] yelling at me, basically," Wishnowsky told Omnisport.

"Told me he'd change my life, [to] quit my job tomorrow, move to Melbourne. I was sold."

His parents, at least initially, were not, but on Sunday Wishnowsky will be punting for the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

It will be the realisation of a life-long dream... Sort of.

He had grown up playing soccer and Australian rules football, though shoulder injuries meant he had to give up the latter.

Wishnowsky had been urged to try American football - the flag variety - by some friends and it was when he was "messing around" punting that he caught the attention of someone who knew Smith and his colleague Nathan Chapman - both of whom spent time in the NFL.

"I always dreamed of being a pro athlete," Wishnowsky added.

"I was 20 and I had to give [Australian rules] away. I was devastated. I'm 20, I'm not going to be a pro athlete, time to move on.

"Randomly, this came out of the blue, this was my last chance."

From Melbourne, Wishnowsky went to a junior college in Santa Barbara and onto college in Utah, and in 2016 he won the Ray Guy Award, given to college football's best punter.

The NFL beckoned and the 49ers selected Wishnowsky in last year's draft, the rookie establishing himself as the team's starting punter in their run to the Super Bowl, where they face the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami.

He may be one of the few from his country in the NFL, but those who do hail from Australia tend to be punters.

Michael Dickson, Lachlan Edwards, Jordan Berry and Cameron Johnston all hold starting jobs in that position, and Wishnowsky puts the influx of Australian punters down to their grounding in Aussie rules.

"We just grow up from whatever age – five, four – punting a football," Wishnowsky added.

"If you ask us to throw it, we're useless because we didn't do it."

Jarryd Hayne and Valentine Holmes were not required to throw the ball, just run it, but neither was able to replicate the type of success they had as NRL players.

Rugby league star Hayne impressed enough to make the 49ers' roster in 2015 but lasted only half a season, while fellow Australia international Holmes returned to the NRL in November after a year on the New York Jets' practice squad.

"Even when Jarryd Hayne came over, I thought there are incredible athletes in Australia, [but] he's going to struggle, so just to do what he did was incredible," Wishnowsky said.

"Some of the athletes that are over here are incredible, so fast, so quick, cut up.

"They will eat pancakes and maple syrup every meal and they will just be cut. They are just different. I think it is a tough thing to get into."

Wishnowsky has had no such problems making the transition, though, and on Sunday he will achieve something beyond even his wildest dreams.

"I didn't even consider this," Wishnowsky admitted.

"My dream was to play in the NFL, it's almost a new dream to play in the Super Bowl."

There was renewed speculation about Tom Brady's future with the New England Patriots on Thursday of Super Bowl LIV week after he posted a cryptic photo on social media.

For the first time in four years, Brady is not involved in a Super Bowl after defending champions New England were knocked out by the Tennessee Titans on Wild Card Weekend.

Yet that has not stopped their 42-year-old quarterback being the subject of plenty of focus in Miami given he is due to be a free agent this offseason.

That chatter intensified on Thursday evening when Brady posted an uncaptioned black and white image of himself walking in the tunnel at the Patriots' stadium.

Perhaps thinking this could be the precursor to a departure announcement, New York Jets Pro Bowler Jamal Adams wrote on Twitter: "Please leave the AFC East!"

The possibility of 20-year veteran Brady playing anywhere other than New England for the first time in his career appears a more realistic possibility than it ever has in the past.

The six-time Super Bowl winner has hinted he would like to continue playing and not retire yet.

This week his former Pats team-mate Rob Gronkowski suggested Brady test the waters in free agency to see what he could command on the open market.

"I truly believe that he deserves the opportunity to go explore, to see what's out there, he's been playing for so long," Gronkowski said.

"The way that he's been playing, the level that he's been playing at, he deserves an opportunity to go out there and test the market.

"Why wouldn't you? You've never done it before in your career and he's going to be a free agent for the first time ever. Good for him. Go test out the market and do what's best for himself.

"That's the decision he has to make – what's best for himself, what's best for his family, what he feels like he's going to love.

"That's all up to Tom, he's a grown man and he can make that decision on his own."

Greg Olsen has left the Carolina Panthers, the tight end and the team have announced.

The two confirmed on Thursday they had mutually agreed to part ways, bringing to an end Olsen's nine-season Panthers career.

Olsen starred in Carolina's run to Super Bowl 50, where they lost to the Denver Broncos.

The veteran, who the Chicago Bears traded to the Panthers in 2011, had been under contract through the 2020 campaign.

"Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with [general manager] Marty Hurney and have a great conversation regarding my future with the organisation," Olsen said in a lengthy statement posted to his official Twitter page.

"The team and I are both on the same page that it is best we go in different directions for now."

While thanking staff and team-mates in Carolina, Olsen added he had "not closed the door on any potential career options".

He said: "I still have the love of football in my heart and will explore all opportunities presented to me."

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez promised to remember Kobe Bryant at the Super Bowl LIV half-time show in Miami on Sunday.

The Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium exactly a week on from the shock death of Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who were killed in a helicopter crash in California.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers, was a role model for many of the NFL players that will take to the field on Sunday.

Shakira, who will perform during the interval at the Super Bowl as a co-headliner with Lopez, revealed her long-time boyfriend, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, was also deeply affected by the news and said she will be thinking of Bryant when she performs on Sunday.

"Gerard, my partner, called me with the sad news, he was affected because he knew Kobe and I knew him too, he went to one of my shows," Shakira said.

"I can't imagine the pain that his family must be going through right now. Life is so fragile and that's why we have to live every moment as intensely as we can.

"I think we will all be remembering Kobe on Sunday and we will be celebrating life and diversity in this country. I'm sure he would be very proud to see the message that we are going to be trying to convey on stage that day.

"I think it's a very important moment for the Latino community in this country. The Super Bowl is a very American event, it's as American as it can get, and I think it's going to be very nice that it's also going to be a reminder of the heritage of this country, which is one of diversity; that's what we will be celebrating on Sunday."

Lopez posted an emotional tribute to Bryant and his family on Instagram and she was choked up discussing the impact it had had on her and her fiancee, MLB great Alex Rodriguez.

"I was in the middle of rehearsing and talking about this show and Alex came to me with tears in his eyes and he said, 'You're not going to believe what happened'," Lopez explained.

"He was devastated. He knew Kobe very well, they came up together and entered sports around the same time. He was just devastated. I knew Kobe and Vanessa more in passing. He had come to my last show in Vegas, the both of them, as a date night. We had a beautiful night that night.

"I think it's affecting everybody so much because it's just reminding us again how fragile life is, how we have to appreciate every single moment, how we have to love people when they're here and not wait. How we don't get the opportunity – it can be taken away from us so easily. 

"Then I think about Vanessa as a mum and losing her best friend and partner, and losing her child. I think how awful that must for her be right now. I just wanted to send her a message and just been praying that God guides her through every moment because she has three more babies to take care of.

"Just wishing that the nightmare was over but it's not going to be and that's life, we have to carry on but at the same time it affects us and will affect us forever. Hopefully we will remember this moment and what we're trying to do is spread love, kindness and bring everybody together.

"In this week, this happening has a sound around the world that we have to love each other, and we have to be together and support each other. We can't be so at odds all the time and that's part of our mission and message too."

Richard Sherman accused the NFL and team owners of putting a "price tag" on player safety in pushing for a 17-game regular season.

Plans to expand the fixture schedule have proved an obstacle in ongoing negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The existing deal expires at the end of next season and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has insisted player welfare continues to be a priority amid "incredibly productive dialogue" with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).

Sherman, an NFLPA vice-president, remains unconvinced, believing talks will drag on unless the league backs down.

"I don't think it's something the players are interested in, honestly," the San Francisco 49ers cornerback said ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"If that's the point they're negotiating on, I think these negotiations are going to go a lot longer than anticipated.

"It's odd to me, and it's always odd, when you hear player safety is their biggest concern. And they're really standing up for player safety, player safety, player safety, but it seems like player safety has a price tag.

"Player safety up to the point of hey, 17 games makes us this much money so we really don't care how safe they are, if you're going to pay us this much money to play another game.

"That's the part that's really concerning for us as a union and us as players. They think that players have a price tag on their health and I don't think we're in the same ball park in that regard. Players have been more aware of player safety and longevity and life after football."

Sherman believes the NFL intends to use the extended season as a bridge to an even longer 18-game schedule, forcing players to "risk their bodies".

"That's what's so ridiculous about it, and nobody calls them out, nobody calls out the hypocrisy," he continued.

"I'm hoping that one day people will be brave enough to call out the hypocrisy of saying hey, we really care about player safety, but hey we always want you to play an extra game and put your body on the line and risk your career."

Roger Goodell conceded the NFL's Rooney Rule has to change due to the lack of minority head coaches.

Only four of the 32 NFL teams have minority head coaches, with just two of 13 openings filled by such candidates over the past two years.

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, whose teams face off in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, were thought to be leading contenders for the five jobs available after this season but both were overlooked.

That has led to Goodell admitting the Rooney Rule, which was established in 2003 and requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coach and other senior positions, must be looked at.

"Clearly, we are not where we want to be on this level," Goodell said at his annual pre-Super Bowl address on Wednesday.

"We have a lot of work that's gone into not only the Rooney Rule but our policies overall.

"It's clear we need to change and do something different. There's no reason to expect that we're going to have a different outcome next year without those kinds of changes, and we've already begun engaging in those changes.

"Not just with our diversity committee, not just with the Fritz Pollard Alliance, but others, and trying to figure out what steps we can take next that would lead to better outcomes.

"It's clear we are all committed to doing that and we have to make those changes.

"So, we will have a series of meetings, which we've already scheduled, over the next month to get that kind of dialogue going, to continue the dialogue and to try to determine what are the solutions, so we can have those better outcomes."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell vowed to help Antonio Brown "get back on track" following the wide receiver's latest controversy.

Seven-time Pro Bowler Brown has not played a down in the NFL since September, when he was cut by the New England Patriots after just 11 days amid allegations of sexual assault and rape.

The NFL launched an investigation into those accusations and suggested Brown, who had a try-out with the New Orleans Saints in December, would be placed on the commissioner's exempt list - barring him from playing until the probe was concluded - should he sign for another team.

Last week an arrest warrant was issued for the 31-year-old on charges of burglary with battery and criminal mischief, with a judge freeing Brown from house arrest on Tuesday.

Goodell was asked for an update on the NFL's investigation into Brown on Wednesday at his annual pre-Super Bowl address, and he was keen to stress the player's mental state is of paramount importance.

"I think [with] Antonio's situation, I think the first thing, for all of us, is to talk about the well-being of Antonio, to understand what Antonio is going through," Goodell said.

"We don't talk about the wellness of our players publicly but I would tell you that you can be sure that the NFL and NFLPA have a tremendous amount of resources that are available to all players. They are going to be made available to Antonio.

"We want to help get him on the right track and get him in a position where he is in a zone where he thinks he can be successful in life.

"We are confident that can happen. We want to work to do that. From our standpoint, that's the first step - making sure we're doing everything to help Antonio."

Nick Bosa's outstanding rookie campaign with the San Francisco 49ers has DeForest Buckner believing there is no limit to what he can achieve in the NFL.

Defensive end Bosa was considered the best prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft and, after the Arizona Cardinals selected quarterback Kyler Murray first up, the San Francisco 49ers took him off the board with the second pick.

The son of former first-round pick John Bosa and brother of two-time Pro Bowler Joey Bosa, the youngest Bosa has already lived up to the family name with nine sacks and an interception across his debut campaign earning him a Pro Bowl nod too.

Bosa will almost certainly be named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday, 24 hours before he plays in Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami, and fellow defensive lineman Buckner feels his team-mate will only get better.

"I don't think there is a ceiling yet," he said. "I can't wait to see next year what he can do.

"He's been one hell of a talent and one hell of a hard worker.

"It's just been unbelievable to see that as a rookie, his technique, most of all, throughout the season has just got better.

"His win rate pass rushing-wise on a consistent basis has been unreal. I've never seen a rookie so polished coming out."

Prior to this season, Bosa, who, like his brother, went to Ohio State, had not played since September due to a groin injury sustained while playing for the Buckeyes.

That prevented him from impressing Buckner straight away, though the reason why the Niners drafted him so early on soon became clear.

"He was a little rusty obviously in OTAs, training camp, especially because he hasn't played football in a while," Buckner explained.

"But as we were getting closer and closer to the season starting you could see him really getting back into it.

"It was kind of like riding a bike again. Just to see him throughout the season skyrocket in his play has been unbelievable to see."

Patrick Mahomes believes he landed in the ideal environment to succeed in the NFL when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted him in 2017.

The 24-year-old was not seen as a sure-fire lock to prosper in the pros when he came out of Texas Tech in a draft class that included fellow quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson.

The Chicago Bears traded up to the second pick to land Trubisky, a decision Mahomes reminded them of when he celebrated by counting to 10 - the spot where Kansas City moved up to select him - during the Chiefs' Week 16 win at Soldier Field.

While Trubisky has struggled, Mahomes has thrived, something he attributes to the situation at Kansas City, where he sat behind Alex Smith for a year before becoming the full-time starter last season.

"I think I ended up in the perfect place," said reigning MVP Mahomes, who has led the Chiefs to Super Bowl LIV.

"To have coach [Andy] Reid and these coaches around me, to have Alex Smith in front of me for a year and be able to learn from him, and then obviously to have all the players I have around me.

"I'm in a place where the team was already a winning team, a team that had a lot of success and I came in, was able to be who I am, and ended up being able to win a lot of football games early in my career."

Mahomes' success in 2018 meant the Chiefs were considered one of the leading contenders to reach the Super Bowl, unlike the San Francisco 49ers, their opponents in Miami on Sunday.

However, an appearance at the showpiece for the first time in 50 years looked unlikely when Mahomes went down with a worrying-looking knee injury during a game against the Denver Broncos in October.

He was diagnosed with a dislocated kneecap and avoided ligament damage, only missing two games despite initial fears that it could be a serious problem.

"I for sure had those thoughts a little bit whenever I had the injury," Mahomes admitted.

"The biggest thing was I looked down and I knew my knee didn't look right and I thought the worst.

"But, at the same time, when I got back to the locker room and talked to the doctors, they were very positive.

"The next few weeks, with the training staff, they worked me hard to go out there and rehab and do everything the right way and it helped me to come back fast."

Rob Gronkowski has advised his former New England Patriots team-mate Tom Brady to test the waters in free agency this year.

Brady is due to be a free agent at the end of this NFL season and, despite turning 43 in August, the six-time Super Bowl champion has suggested he wants to carry on playing.

Having played with the Patriots for his entire 20 seasons in the NFL, there is a distinct possibility that Brady is wearing a different jersey next year.

He would likely earn more money by signing for another franchise - with the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers among those who could be interested - and Gronkowski thinks Brady should see what is out there.

"I truly believe that he deserves the opportunity to go explore, to see what's out there, he's been playing for so long," FOX Sports' pundit Gronkowski told reporters ahead of Super Bowl LIV between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. 

"The way that he's been playing, the level that he's been playing at, he deserves an opportunity to go out there and test the market.

"Why wouldn't you? You've never done it before in your career and he's going to be a free agent for the first time ever. Good for him. Go test out the market and do what's best for himself.

"That's the decision he has to make is what's best for himself, what's best for his family, what he feels like he's going to love.

"That's all up to Tom, he's a grown man and he can make that decision on his own."

Tight end Gronkowski spent his entire nine years in the NFL with the Patriots and won three Super Bowl rings as one of Brady's most reliable weapons.

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