Super Bowl LIV features a number of stellar playmakers attached to innovative offensive coaches. The Chiefs have arguably the most unique and explosive one on their roster in Tyreek Hill.
Coming off a massive 2018 campaign in which Hill totaled 1,630 yards and 13 touchdowns, he made the leap to full-fledged lead wideout in his third season. Through natural regression cooked into the Chiefs offense and battling a number of injuries, however, Hill took a step back in production during the 2019 season.
Hill only played 12 snaps in Week 1 before exiting with a shoulder injury and then only played seven snaps in Week 11 before suffering a hamstring injury. Those injuries forced him to miss four games outright to go along with those nearly full games of production. Removing those two partial games raises his raw usage to 5.3 receptions on 8.0 targets per game, but his yardage per game (79.3) still is more in line with his 2017 season than that colossal 2018 hammer he dropped.
Despite the recoil in output off the high bar he set in 2018, Hill has still held a high floor. Although he hasn’t notched those triple-digit yardage games at the same pace of last season, he had fewer than 55 yards in just one of his full 12 games played.
As a Swiss Army Knife, the Chiefs reigned Hill in this season. During the regular season, Hill had just eight rushing attempts for 23 yards after having 17 or more carries in each of his previous three seasons.
Through injuries or an alteration in use, Hill’s average depth of target dropped a full three yards this season, which lowered his rate stats in yardage per catch and per target, where he posted his lowest yards per target since his rookie season, when he hardly operated as a traditional wide receiver. From a yardage output, Hill posted just two 100-yard receiving games this season and hasn’t had more than 72 yards receiving in a game since Week 10. That eight-game streak of failing to have a 100-yard receiving game is his longest drought since his rookie season.
Tyreek Hill Career Stats on Targets over 15 Yards Downfield
*Includes Postseason Stats for Each Year
Reeling in his average depth of target this season, Hill didn’t amass the rate of downfield targets this season as he did a year ago, but he still relied on the production of those targets at nearly the same rates, making him more efficient in that area when those opportunities did come.
That especially holds true in the touchdown department. Hill also still remains one of the league’s most dynamic big-play options on offense. Of Hill’s nine receiving touchdowns this season, five have come from 20 yards or further with four of those coming from 40 yards or longer. Those 40-plus yard scores are a Hill staple. Those four scores are tied for second in the league behind Stefon Diggs’ five this season and give Hill 14 such receiving scores for his career, the most for any player since he entered the league.
All of that downfield usage is relevant because, as we discussed when breaking down the matchup between the Chiefs passing game and the 49ers pass defense when taking a top-down look at this matchup through Patrick Mahomes, San Francisco was well above the league rates in defending passes downfield this season, to the point where teams just didn’t throw downfield against them. San Francisco allowed the fewest yards per completion (9.7) and allowed just five pass plays of 40-plus yards during the regular season, tied for the second-fewest in the league. Accounting for the 49ers’ defensive strength of schedule – especially over the back half of the season – makes those numbers more impressive.
Although the Chiefs haven’t used Hill in the run game to this point like they have in year’s past, they still are versatile in how they deploy him in formations. This season, Hill ran 54% of his routes from the slot, 23% at RWR, and 21% at LWR. That means for roughly 77% of his routes, he won’t line up across from Richard Sherman. Sherman has lined up in the slot (10 pass plays) and at RCB (three) for just 13 total passing snaps this season.
There was always going to be only a few matchups where Hill would’ve faced Sherman in a one-on-one environment, but nonetheless, he will still avoid his area of the field a significant amount of the time. Sherman has been the best Cover 3 cornerback since entering the league, so the 49ers shouldn’t be knocked for playing a ton of zone, rather coaching to defensive strength pairing their best corner’s abilities to an excellent defensive line.
Only the Chargers played more zone coverage this season (68.2%) than the 49ers did at 64.2%. The 49ers had drastically different defensive personnel when these teams played in Week 3 last season, but still under the same scheme that defensive coordinator Robert Saleh incorporates, the 49ers played zone coverage 67.5% of the time in that 2018 matchup. In that game, the 49ers held Hill to two catches on five targets for 51 yards.
Hill is no stranger to zone coverage. He faced zone coverage this season on 50.6% of routes where he and his quarterback connected for a 104.4 rating. That is strong on its own, but when you factor in that passes in his direction resulted in a 123.8 rating when facing man coverage and a 152.1 rating when in press coverage this season, you can see why teams will live off the production he does get when having work through zone. Maybe someone should have told the Titans…
— Overtime Heroics (@OTHeroics1) January 19, 2020
Tyreek Hill Super Bowl Props
per DraftKings Sportsbook
- First to score (+750), To score (-112)
- o/u 77.5 receiving yards (over +105, under, -130)
- o/u 5.5 receptions (over +124, under -155)
- Longest Reception 29.5 yards (over -106, under -118)