Ten 49ers, Chiefs whose legacies will be most impacted by Super Bowl LVIII

LAS VEGAS — Trent Williams’ résumé is already good enough to land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s been a first-team All-Pro three times. He’s an 11-time Pro Bowler. He’s generally acknowledged as the best left tackle of this era.

There is one thing still missing from that résumé, though. In 13 NFL seasons, he’s never been a Super Bowl champion. And he knows that with some players, for some voters, the ring is the thing that could push their candidacy over the top.

“Maybe,” Williams said this week as he prepared for Super Bowl LVIII. “Some people judge it like that. It’s hard for me to judge it like that because I’m an athlete and I know what goes into it, and I know how hard it is to win a championship. But for the people that judge it like that, I’m pretty sure it would help.”

“This is the pinnacle,” he added. “It does put you in the upper echelon because not a lot of people have accomplished the feat.”

Williams surely doesn’t need the added boost, but there are definitely others playing Sunday who might need it when — or if — their name is discussed by the Hall of Fame selection committee. Some great players have been shunned by the committee over the years. Others have had to wait years to get the votes they needed.

And when that committee is choosing between all-time greats at every position, every strong line on the résumé helps. So, which players and coaches in Super Bowl LVIII could someday be bound for Canton? And which ones could use the help of a Super Bowl title? 

Here are 10 who are at various stages of the Hall of Fame track.

Dave Helman’s Super Bowl LVIII bets for Chiefs vs. 49ers

Dave Helman's Super Bowl LVIII bets for Chiefs vs. 49ers

Andy Reid
He could’ve retired after his first Super Bowl championship in 2019 and waltzed into the Hall. Now, there won’t even be a discussion. He’s the fourth-winningest coach in NFL history with a stellar record of 258-144-1. He’s about to coach in his fifth Super Bowl, and he’s won two so far. He’s even coached in 11 conference championship games, including the last six in the AFC. They could give him his gold jacket on the podium Sunday if they wanted and nobody would complain. But a victory would make him just one of five coaches with three-plus Super Bowl rings (Bill Belichick, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs).

Patrick Mahomes
The question isn’t whether he’ll make the Hall, it’s whether he would make it right now if he retired Sunday night. And he probably would. He’s accumulated some impressive numbers in just seven seasons (28,424 passing yards, 219 touchdown passes). He’s won the NFL MVP twice, the Super Bowl MVP twice. And in his six seasons as a starter, he’s led Kansas City to six AFC Championship Games and four Super Bowls. A better question for Mahomes: Will he surpass Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time?

Travis Kelce
He’s already one of the greatest receiving tight ends in NFL history, ranking fourth in yards (11,328) and first in touchdowns (116). He’s 34, so Tony Gonzalez’s record of 15,127 yards might be out of reach, but that shouldn’t matter. Add in the same string of Super Bowls and championships that Reid and Mahomes have, and the Chiefs tight end should sail through on the first ballot, no matter what.

Chris Jones
The Chiefs’ powerful defensive tackle is probably on a Hall of Fame track, but another Super Bowl title could help his argument to get in sooner — especially since the Kansas City defense is perceived as leading the way this year. It would help if he had a big game, too, since he’s had just 2.5 sacks in 18 career playoff games. He’s a great player, as his two first-team All-Pro nods, five Pro Bowl selections and 75.5 career sacks illustrate, but he’s been largely overshadowed in this era by Aaron Donald.

Kelce & CMC highlight Colin’s top 10 non-Mahomes players in SB LVIII

Kelce & CMC highlight Colin's top 10 non-Mahomes players in SB LVIII

Kyle Shanahan
It’s way too early to know if the 49ers head coach will merit discussion for the Hall of Fame. He’s only been a head coach for seven years, so he likely needs 6-7 more and a lot of winning along the way. But it’s almost inconceivable that a modern coach would even be considered without winning at least one Super Bowl. So, a victory Sunday would at least be a Hall conversation starter a few years down the road. Without a Super Bowl win, though, his chances would be slim — unless he loses several à la Bud Grant and Marv Levy. 

Trent Williams
The 49ers’ big left tackle certainly doesn’t need any help and is likely headed to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. There isn’t another offensive tackle of this era who will deserve to be enshrined ahead of him. What helped the 11-time Pro Bowler most was getting out of Washington and landing in San Francisco, where he’s the anchor for a run-heavy 49ers team that has been to three straight NFC title games and now a Super Bowl. He’s finally receiving the attention and acclaim he’s long deserved.

George Kittle
Adding “Super Bowl champion” could be a huge boost for the 30-year-old tight end, especially if he can put up some numbers and outperform Kelce on Sunday. Kittle’s still got an uphill battle, though. His receiving numbers aren’t flashy (460 catches, 6,274 yards and 37 touchdowns in seven seasons) and he’s generally considered the fourth offensive option on these Niners. The two-time first-team All-Pro will need a few more Kelce-like receiving seasons to get into the Canton conversation. But a win Sunday would also help.

Christian McCaffrey
He’s not there yet, but he might end up being remembered as the best and most versatile running back of this era. And if he has a big game and helps the 49ers dethrone the Chiefs, that’s a big boost to his Hall of Fame argument. He’s going to need to stay healthy and probably put up a few more 1,000-yard rushing seasons. But if a running back can carry a team to a title in this era where running backs are being devalued? That should help sway a few voters.

Maxx Crosby previews Super Bowl LVIII: Who has the edge?

Maxx Crosby previews Super Bowl LVIII: Who has the edge?

Nick Bosa
The 49ers defensive end has played just five seasons, and four healthy ones, but he’s off to an outstanding start. Winning Defensive Player of the Year with 18.5 sacks last season is a huge line on his résumé. So is his total of 53.5 sacks so far. Winning a Super Bowl would ignite the conversation of whether he’s bound for Canton someday. How much it matters really depends on what he does over the next 4-5 years.

Fred Warner
Maybe no player on this list would benefit more from a championship than the 49ers’ 27-year-old linebacker. The NFL knows how good he is. He’s been a first-team All-Pro three times (including each of the past two seasons). But he’s overshadowed on his own defense by Bosa, and on the team by all the offensive stars. And while he’s a tackling machine (766 in six seasons), he doesn’t have a lot of other stats that jump off the page (nine career sacks, eight interceptions). If he plays a few more years at this level, he’ll have some support on the committee, but he’ll need every edge he can get to put him over the top.

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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