Chiefs have big kickiпg edge over 49ers thaпks to Harrisoп Bυtker

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LAS VEGAS — If you don’t think the team with the better kicker in Sunday’s Super Bowl can be the difference between one hoisting the Lombardi Trophy awash in confetti the shade of its team colors and the other team devastated and awash in tears, you’re not paying a lot of attention.

It’s well publicized that the Chiefs enter Sunday’s Super Bowl 2024 at Allegiant Stadium with the more accomplished head coach in Andy Reid and more decorated quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, besting 49ers counterparts Kyle Shanahan and Brock Purdy.

What lies beneath the surface of the stars and big names when you analyze this game is the distinct advantage the Chiefs have over the 49ers at the kicker position.

The Chiefs know exactly what they have in their kicker, Harrison Butker. They don’t even have to watch him kick because he’s virtually automatic, not to mention one of the most clutch postseason kickers in NFL history.

The 49ers are still trying to figure out what they have in their kicker, Jake Moody. They hold their collective breath every time the rookie lines up for a key field goal because he’s been inconsistent on some big ones this season.

Harrison Butker kicks a field goal during the Chiefs' win over the Ravens in the AFC title game.

Harrison Butker kicks a field goal during the Chiefs’ win over the Ravens in the AFC title game. Getty Images

The element of the close game in the Super Bowl is real. Field goals determine the outcome of many of these games. In the past 16 Super Bowls, dating back to the Giants’ 17-14 upset of the previously undefeated Patriots in 2008, 10 of the games have been decided by one score and four of them by a field goal.

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The Chiefs beat the Eagles, 38-35, in last year’s Super Bowl and the deciding points came off the right foot of Butker, who booted a 27-yard field goal to win it with eight seconds remaining.

The point spread in this game has the 49ers favored by 1 ½, so Las Vegas and all of its analytics and algorithms believes this is a field-goal game.

On paper, that bodes well for the Chiefs.

Jake Moody kicks a field during the 49ers' win over the Lions in the NFC Championship.

Jake Moody kicks a field during the 49ers’ win over the Lions in the NFC Championship. AP

In 18 career postseason games, Butker is 28 of 32 on field goals and 61 of 64 on extra points. In Kansas City’s three playoff games this postseason, he’s made all l4 of his kicks — seven field goals and seven extra points.

This comes after a regular season in which Butker made 40 of 42 field-goal attempts (95 percent) and all 45 extra points and somehow was left off the Pro Bowl team.

I believe Butker might well be the slight edge that sets Kansas City apart from San Francisco in this game, and Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub is on board with that thought.

“He’s been a huge difference maker,” Toub told The Post. “I don’t think his blood pressure ever gets very high. He’s very even-keeled, which is good, and he’s very strong mentally. Harrison and [Baltimore’s] Justin Tucker are the two best kickers in the league.”

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Harrison Butker talks to the media during Super Bowl week.

Harrison Butker talks to the media during Super Bowl week. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

In last season’s playoffs, Butker made 6 of 7 field goals, including a game-winning 45-yarder to beat the Bengals in the AFC Championship game.

After the Chiefs’ midseason struggle that had many wondering if their run was about to end, they defeated the Bengals on Dec. 31 and in that game Butker produced more points (19) than the Bengals did as a team (17) — on six field goals and an extra point.

In the Chiefs divisional playoff win over the Bills in windy, chilly conditions, Butker made both of his field-goal attempts, including a 47-yarder. Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass, meanwhile, missed one of his two attempts, and it happened to be a potential game-tying 44-yard kick that sailed right of the uprights in the waning seconds of a game that seemed destined for overtime.

Butker was the difference in that razor’s edge close game.

Jake Moody

Will he be the difference Sunday in the biggest game of all on the biggest stage?

The 49ers made a risky, eye-opening decision this past offseason when they drafted Moody in the third round to replace veteran Robbie Gould, who’s one of the greatest postseason kickers in NFL history, having made all 29 of his field-goal attempts in the playoffs.

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The 49ers at times during the season have felt the sting of Moody’s growing pains.

Moody was hardly awful in his rookie year, making 21 of 25 field goal attempts and missing one extra point in the regular season. But one of his misses came on a 41-yard attempt in Cleveland that could have given the 49ers a one-point win in Week 6 — the first high-pressure kick of his career.

Moody enters the Super Bowl having missed at least one kick in each of the past three games. That doesn’t exactly instill confidence from the 49ers’ sideline — regardless of what they say in public.

“I think he’s ready for the moment,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “[We have] a lot of confidence in Jake. A lot of people want to talk about some challenges that he’s had, but I like to look at how he responds to those. And he’s very steady. He really is.”

Toub called himself “very lucky’’ with kickers because he had Gould in Chicago when he coached with the Bears and now has Butker.

When I asked him about the chance the 49ers took moving on from Gould and drafting Moody, Taub said, “We’ll find out Sunday.’’

Harrison Butker kicks a field goal during the Chiefs' win over the Ravens in the AFC title game.

Harrison Butker kicks a field goal during the Chiefs’ win over the Ravens in the AFC title game. Getty Images

Jake Moody kicks a field during the 49ers' win over the Lions in the NFC Championship.Jake Moody kicks a field during the 49ers’ win over the Lions in the NFC Championship. AP

Harrison Butker talks to the media during Super Bowl week.

Harrison Butker talks to the media during Super Bowl week. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

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