LAS VEGAS — On the big electronic board inside every sportsbook in this town, the information reads mostly the same.
San Francisco -2.
The 49ers are the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl on Sunday, at least according to the oddsmakers. The public is less convinced.
Some 83 percent of all bets and 82 percent of all the money laid down is in the favor of Kansas City, according to sportsbettingdime.com. One reason for the Niners giving two points is due to a significant amount of futures bets on the team that need to be balanced.
So technically, San Francisco is the favorite, just maybe not in reality.
Not that it matters much.
The 49ers are acting like anything but some cool, confident club. They’ve spent this week acting like the world is against them, barking about everything from the condition of their practice field to an early morning fire alarm at the team hotel.
Defensive end Nick Bosa didn't even get to town to bring up how much he thinks the Chiefs offensive line holds. He began mentioning it last week.
This is a team that either has a chip on its shoulder or is doing everything imaginable to invent one.
“I’m sure somebody did it,” Bosa said of what turned out to be a false alarm that went off just after 6 a.m. on Thursday.
Somebody? Was Andy Reid sneaking in to pull the handle? If so, wouldn’t it have been better to wake everyone at 2 or 3 a.m., not within minutes of the teams scheduled wake-up call anyway?
"There's no way it's random," running back Christian McCaffrey said.
“It kind of reminded me of Philly, when they had this construction going on outside,” Bosa said. “It was early in the morning and they were demolishing a bridge right outside our hotel.”
That would be an unpleasant experience, but I think even the Philadelphia city government would acknowledge that it is in no way organized enough to schedule municipal construction around a visiting NFL team's sleep schedule. Just be happy some bridge work was getting done.
Some saltiness might be ideal for this team. No matter the point spread, there is no reason for the Niners to feel overconfident.
It’s the Chiefs that are here for the fourth time in five seasons. It’s the Chiefs that have Patrick Mahomes going for them. It’s the Chiefs who Taylor Swift is jetting in from Tokyo to support. It’s the Chiefs who won the Super Bowl last year, not to mention four years ago when they defeated … San Francisco.
That game is likely why Bosa laid out an early warning shot to the refs that they should be on the lookout for holding calls as he rushes Mahomes. An uncalled hold by Chiefs offensive lineman Eric Fisher on Bosa during a critical fourth-quarter play in that game remains a painful memory for the Niners.
So might as well make it an issue.
“They hold a lot,” Bosa said last weekend.
Bosa isn’t wrong, either. Chiefs offensive lineman Jaawan Taylor was whistled eight times for holding — plus one facemask, one illegal use of the hands and one block above the waist — this season. Linemate Trey Smith had eight holding calls against him as well.
Then there is the practice field turf over at UNLV. San Francisco has complained it is “overly soft” because there is a layer of sod on top of field turf. It was a big enough issue that Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported the team considered trying to find a new place to practice and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had to address the situation.
“We’ve had 23 experts out there,” Goodell said on Monday. “We had the union. All of them think it’s a very playable surface.”
The NFLPA actually took issue with it, although not to the point where it was deemed unfit or unsafe. San Francisco, though, remains chapped.
“We’re here, we’re practicing on it,” Shanahan said. “Everyone has their preferences. Wish things were better but we’ll deal with how it is.”
Generally speaking, motivation plays little to no role in who wins the Super Bowl. These are two teams of professional athletes competing in the biggest (or one of the biggest) games of their career. Everyone goes all out, all the time.
The game is generally won by a few critical plays by a few critical players, not residual anger over practice field firmness.
That said, San Francisco is embracing its slights and vowing to use it as a positive.
Holding calls? Fire alarms? Soft turf?
“It's just more wood thrown on the fire,” McCaffrey declared.
Forget what the sportsbooks are offering, this is a team convinced it's an underdog with the entire NFL against it.