I also stopped short of saying that the refs determined the game, but its not difficult to image how much different the game could have been with just two calls (the O PI and the hold on Bosa) because one took an almost certain 3 and a possible 7 off of the board for SF, while the other put 7 on the board for KC. But more importantly, the strategy of the game changes (drastically) if those go the other way.I am not one who thinks the refs determined the outcome of this game. The Kittle call could have gone either way. The difficult pill to swallow is that the pass was perfect and he may have caught the ball if he hadn't pushed at all. The non-call helmet to helmet on Garappolo, that surprised me, but I am still not sure it changed the outcome of the final score either.
For me, the final thought is that when they needed to adapt, innovate, as the game grew on, the 49ers got more conservative. I was really surprised that after that long 3Q drive, they didn't pound the ball, and threw zero screens, and didn't seem to target Kittle late. On D, the 49ers were never a blitzing team, but I was surprised how they didn't even hint at faking a blitz in the 4Q. It's as if they were so confident their mix of zones would contain the Chiefs, and the Chiefs wouldn't adapt, they rode that horse to the end. On the other side of the ball, it was KC who adapted, mixed things up enough to win.
KC may be great again next year, unless they get the usual SB hangover. They still only Mahomes $2.7 mil, unless they work to sign him now, where he'll likely haul in over $30m per year, for several years.
SF on the other hand, they have several players headed to FA, and not much cap room. It was said at the time they overpaid for Jimmy G, and at $24m it sure looked like it this game.
Jmdirt mentioned Baltimore next season. While the sting of losing to Tennessee must have hurt bad, and I'm sure a lot of Ravens players and fans were thinking they were the one team who could have beaten the Chiefs, losing in the playoffs is better than losing a SB or even a championship game. They "only" have $26m in cap space, and 13 UFA's about to hit the market, which are neither great nor horrible figures, but the only key player they can't afford to lose is LB Matthew Judon. No one else really stands out as I look at their roster. One would think they don't need to do a great deal to keep things moving and be a serious contender next year, presuming Jackson doesn't get hurt.
As to Tom Brady, apparently Jon Gruden yesterday said he wants him and the Raiders would be willing to shell out a lot of money to get him. But Gruden is such a huckster at times. The used car salesman of the NFL. I just can't see Tom going anywhere else, especially since it looks like McDaniels will be staying. My gut tells me those two with Belicheck, and maybe one of the Krafts will sit down, Tom will say what he wants - and nothing short of a team and offense capable of winning another SB will be acceptable - and he'll get a 2 year deal that will take him to the end of his career in NE.
Finally, congrats to Stephon Gilmore for winning defensive player of the year for New England. He was a leader and anchor for that defense and as big of reason as any other player for their team doing as well as they did. First CB to win the award in a decade. Nice to see Bills CB Tre'Davios White get votes as well. He's a star in the making and maybe not as much of a leader as Gilmore, didn't give up a single TD all year in Buffalo. Interestingly enough, J.C. Jackson, the Pats other CB, had a stellar year as well if you look at the stats. Considering QBs didn't want to take on Gilmore, this meant more throws Jackson's direction, but he was just as stingy covering WRs.
Maybe its important to remind that I didn't care who won as long as it was a good game...it was, and I'm happy for KC, but that doesn't mean that I'm OK with crap officiating.
I agree that overall, KC 'played' the game better.