- Programming note: Watch Matt Maiocco's "49ers Talk" interview with linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw at 9:30 p.m. PT tonight on NBC Sports Bay Area.
There does not appear to be much that can slow down the Super Bowl-winning combination of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.
The 49ers might have a better chance than most teams.
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After all, the best way to fight the unique Mahomes-Kelce connection could be with the 49ers’ own version of top-notch chemistry.
Linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, who have been starting for the side-by-side for the past five seasons, give the 49ers a chance to at least limit the production of Kansas City’s top two players.
“The thing for me and Dre is we take great pride in leading the way for the defense and setting the tone and dictating those things with the way we deliver the hits and make the big plays,” Warner told NBC Sports Bay Area on the latest "49ers Talk."
“We’re taking on that pressure of being the ones to make an effect on this game and the defense, and leading the way, all the way.”
San Francisco 49ers
Mahomes and Kelce are no strangers to the big stage. They have combined for 18 postseason touchdown passes — the most from any combination in NFL history. They have appeared in three previous Super Bowls, winning two of them.
“When you got great chemistry with somebody, you know where they’re at all the time,” Greenlaw said of Mahomes and Kelce.
Greenlaw said there is virtually no way for the 49ers to shut down Kelce, a nine-time Pro Bowl player. But he believes he can work with Warner to narrow those windows in the middle of the field.
“The fact that we understand each other and understand the defense, understand what we’re supposed to do, and we’ve played a lot of ball,” Greenlaw said. “We understand where the offense is trying to attack and howthey’re trying to attack us.
“Us having that good relationship of, ‘Hey, this is what they’re trying to do or this is where he’s going to be.’ We have a good feel for it and help each other.”
Warner was recently named to the AP first-team All-Pro team for the third time in his career. Greenlaw has yet to be honored as a Pro Bowl player. It’s an honor Warner believes is a couple of years overdue.
Greenlaw acknowledged his improved performance correlated with his decision to spend his offseason in the Bay Area working alongside Warner at the 49ers’ workout facility.
Warner agreed Greenlaw’s results the past two seasons have been noticeable.
“I feel like last year he took a huge jump in his game and became a Pro Bowl-type player,” Warner said.
“Me and him being around each other year-round, we know each other like the back of our hands.”
Greenlaw said he likes the idea of a return matchup against the Chiefs, who beat the 49ers, 31-20, in Super Bowl LIV. Kelce had six receptions on six Mahomes targets for 43 yards and a touchdown.
“In a little bit of a way, I’m kind of happy the Chiefs won because I just feel like it’s only right,” Greenlaw said. “We lost in 2019, and they’re the guys who’ve been getting it year after year after year, so I want to take it from them, so I’m excited.”
And, of course, the 49ers are relying on Warner and Greenlaw to make plenty of plays to help deliver the organization’s sixth Lombardi Trophy.
“I feel like that’s going to be the narrative throughout this week, going into the Super Bowl: ‘How are the linebackers going to stop Kelce and Mahomes?’” said Warner, who registered an interception of Mahomes in the game four years ago.
“At the end of the day, the way I look at it, it’s going to take everybody. They are really good. I give them my respect. I’ve seen it on tape. I’ve seen it for a long time now from them doing it, and I’ve seen it in person in the biggest game.”