The Super Bowl 54 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was an absolute thriller. The Chiefs trailed 20-10 entering the fourth quarter, but then scored 21 unanswered points to win 31-20. Both of these franchises entered with Super Bowl histories, though it had been a long time since either hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
The 49ers have more Super Bowl wins than all but just two teams in the NFL, whereas the Chiefs have played for a championship twice. Let’s take a look at how these two teams’ Super Bowl histories compare.
Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl appearances, including this season: 3
Chiefs fans had to wait decades to see their team win another Super Bowl. In fact, it had been a whole 50 years since Kansas City has played in a Super Bowl. The Chiefs had the fourth-longest active drought without a Super Bowl appearance until they ended that streak this year.
During the 1969 season, the Chiefs went 11-3, won their first two playoff games, and then defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, 23-7. Kansas City quarterback Len Dawson was named the MVP, throwing for 142 yards and the game’s only passing touchdown.
Previously, the Chiefs had played in the first-ever Super Bowl in January 1967, when they lost 35-10 to the Green Bay Packers. At halftime, this famous picture of Dawson smoking a cigarette and drinking a Fresca was taken:
Here's Len Dawson smoking a cigarette and drinking a Fresca *during halftime* of Super Bowl I. pic.twitter.com/ldNF4bbR3z— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) January 29, 2014
At the time, it was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, though it was later renamed Super Bowl I.
The Chiefs’ Super Bowl win three years later was also the final season of the American Football League before it merged with the NFL in 1970.
Until now, the closest the Chiefs came to the Super Bowl after that was two conference championship game berths. In January 1994, the Chiefs lost 30-13 to the Buffalo Bills. Last season, Kansas City fell to the New England Patriots, 37-31, in overtime of the AFC title game.
Chiefs’ Super Bowl appearances by season:
1966: Loss to the Packers
1969: Win over the Vikings
2019: Win over the 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl appearances, including this season: 7
The 49ers have a much more extensive Super Bowl history than the Chiefs, but it took them longer to make it to a championship game. The 49ers won their first Super Bowl in the 1981 season under legendary head coach Bill Walsh. The 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21, and quarterback Joe Montana was named the game’s MVP. He threw for 157 yards and a touchdown while adding a rushing touchdown.
Walsh won two more Super Bowls for San Francisco during the 1984 and 1988 seasons, also with Montana as his quarterback. The 49ers took down Dan Marino’s Dolphins team and then Cincinnati again four years later. Walsh retired in 1989 following the last Super Bowl win, and the very next year, new head coach George Seifert led San Francisco to a Super Bowl. The 49ers destroyed the Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV in Seifert’s first season. Montana also won his third and final Super Bowl MVP Award.
Montana will go down as quite possibly the greatest Super Bowl quarterback of all time, going 4-0 in the big game. He also averaged 286 yards per game, had an 11:0 TD:INT ratio, 68 percent completion rate, and 9.4 yards per pass in those Super Bowls.
In 1994, Seifert’s 49ers steamrolled the San Diego Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX. That was Steve Young’s first Super Bowl title as the starting quarterback. He’s also one of only six players to ever win both NFL and Super Bowl MVP honors in the same season.
The 49ers then experienced a bit of a Super Bowl drought. It wasn’t until the 2012 season that San Francisco made it back under second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh. John Harbaugh and the Ravens beat the 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII that season. Unfortunately 49ers fans will have to wait at least another year longer to see their team win a Super Bowl.
49ers’ Super Bowl appearances by season:
1981: Win over the Bengals
1984: Win over the Dolphins
1988: Win over the Bengals
1989: Win over the Broncos
1994: Win over the Chargers
2012: Loss to the Ravens
2019: Loss to the Chiefs
Super Bowl 54 lived up to the hype. Both teams were among the NFL’s elite all season, but the Chiefs stepped up in the fourth quarter when it mattered most.