LAS VEGAS — Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Tuesday that left guard Joe Thuney is a “long shot” to play in Super Bowl LVII against the 49ers.
Thuney, a two-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion, is a key part of Kansas City’s offense line. He has been sidelined since straining his pectoral muscle in the AFC divisional game against Buffalo.
It’s still early in the week, so there’s little that can happen now that will affect the outcome on Sunday. But Thuney likely missing the big game qualifies as a potential difference-maker.
Mahomes didn’t take a sack in either the wild card or divisional round, but was dropped twice in the NFC Championship Game without Thuney.
According to ESPN’s pass block win rate metric, Thuney was the best interior offensive lineman in the NFL this year, when he won his first All-Pro selection.
In Thuney’s absence last week, veteran backup Nick Allegretti took most of the snaps in his spot.
Javon Hargrave, the 49ers defensive tackle tasked with mucking things up in the middle, is very familiar with Thuney. Last year, Hargrave matched up with the guard in the Super Bowl when the Chiefs beat Hargrave’s Eagles.
“It’s just more so we’ve got to study whoever we’re going against,” Hargrave said. “So we’ve got to spend a little extra time getting ready for whoever’s coming in for him. It’s just preparation, because we’ve been looking at Thuney for so long, now we’ve got to look at the other guy.”
The other guy is Allegretti, a 27-year-old former seventh-round pick. He’s not a liability, with a respectable 73.2 Pro Football Focus grade on the season. But he’s no Thuney, and that will matter to Hargrave, Arik Armstead and the rest of San Francisco’s defensive line.
In his first season with the 49ers, Hargrave earned his second Pro Bowl selection. The seven-year pro recorded seven sacks and 14 quarterback hits, though he was quiet on the stat sheet in each of San Francisco’s two playoff games.
To beat the Chiefs, San Francisco will have to make Mahomes uncomfortable. Four years ago, Mahomes led a fourth-quarter comeback in part by evading San Francisco’s pass rush to find open receivers.