Chiefs Super Bowl Snap Counts: Championship Contributions

Taking a closer look at how Kansas City divvied up its snaps in Super Bowl LVIII against the 49ers.

Super Bowl LVIII certainly lived up to the hype, and the Kansas City Chiefs lived up to their billing by taking down the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

In a thrilling 25-22 overtime win, Kansas City needed contributions from everyone to pull through and emerge with a win. Behind some stellar defensive stops in the second half and enough offense to complete a comeback, the reigning champions completed their quest to go back-to-back. Several members of the roster stepped up, including some unexpected sources. 

Now that snap counts have been released, what jumped off the page? Let's take a look at three notable takeaways from another week of Chiefs football.

Jerick McKinnon plays a sizable role in his return

The Chiefs activated running back Jerick McKinnon from injured reserve leading up to the Super Bowl, and the veteran ended up preparing well enough to play on Sunday. Even then, however, his role in the offense was unclear given Isiah Pacheco's dominance in the postseason and Clyde Edwards-Helaire's seemingly solidified role as halfback No. 2 recently. McKinnon played 32% of available offensive snaps in regular-season games he was active in this year, and that figure dropped to 22% but was still significant in the final game of the year.

McKinnon saw the field 17 times on Sunday, trailing Pacheco's 58 snaps but finishing well ahead of Edwards-Helaire's four. Two specific third-down plays come to mind: McKinnon's third-and-12 catch in the first quarter that came up short of a conversion and his fourth-quarter reception during the Chiefs' two-minute drill. The latter was a far more impactful play, allowing McKinnon to keep Kansas City's comeback attempt alive and put them in a better position for a field goal. The mere fact that McKinnon got back in the lineup this quickly after core muscle surgery and a procedure to repair a fractured pelvis is impressive. Making a small impact in a Super Bowl win was icing on the cake for the 31-year-old who will soon be a free agent. 

Are Mike Pennel and Tershawn Wharton re-sign candidates? 

When Derrick Nnadi went down earlier this season, the Chiefs' interior defensive line picture was subject to even more questions than before. Aside from Chris Jones, who else could play on the interior for most of their snaps? Neil Farrell never truly broke out and Isaiah Buggs was an organizational depth signing. Naturally, vets Mike Pennel and Tershawn Wharton were left to pick up the pieces. Logging a combined 77 snaps against the 49ers, they did just that.

Pennel, in particular, was impressive on Sunday. He had a season-high six tackles, including one for loss. He also helped on a forced fumble, as well as a couple of pure run stops and an overtime stuff that Wharton pitched in on. That was Wharton's most impactful play of the game, showing up when the lights were truly at their brightest. Given Jones's contract situation, it might make sense for Kansas City to re-sign one of Pennel or Wharton to compete for a roster spot entering next season. Their familiarity with and experience in the system are both plus traits. Age is a question for Pennel (32), though, and Wharton didn't rebound from a torn ACL quite as well as the team hoped. Nonetheless, they played serious snaps in a serious situation and helped the Chiefs' defense continue its great stretch of play. 

Felix Anudike-Uzomah provides intrigue but also questions entering the offseason

The Chiefs knew when they selected Felix Anudike-Uzomah 31st overall in last year's NFL Draft that the Kansas State product wouldn't play a ton as a rookie. He got some quality reps in when Charles Omenihu was suspended but upon his return, the rookie defensive end saw his workload cut into by quite a bit. Things culminated with him being a healthy scratch during the AFC portion of the playoffs, although Omenihu's ACL injury left the door open for Anudike-Uzomah to make a splash in the Super Bowl. He did that in some ways but fell short in others. 

Anudike-Uzomah played just seven defensive snaps versus San Francisco, good for 9% of those available. His lone big play was a run stop against Christian McCaffrey, although that four-yard loss put the 49ers behind the sticks and led to their drive ultimately stalling out and ending with a field goal. Considering the hype for the pick and during the week, however, the rookie left many wanting more. That's a good encapsulation of his debut campaign, so he's still a serious unknown entering a pivotal offseason. Sunday didn't change that narrative in either direction.

Related: Andy Reid Confirms Expectation About Coaching Chiefs in 2024-25

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