The Championship Games are in the books and we officially have our two Super Bowl contestants. On February 11th, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will square off in Super Bowl LVIII with all eyes watching. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be watching from home for the 13th year in a row.
Making it to the biggest game on turf is remarkably difficult to do, but there was a stretch of time when it felt like the Steelers could get there on any given year. In recent years, that hope has dwindled to nothing. Unfortunately, the two representatives in Super Bowl LVIII give us even less reason to be encouraged.
Nobody should be surprised to see the 49ers -- the first seed in the NFC -- come away with the crown in their conference, and while the Chiefs weren't perfect in the regular season, Kansas City has shown time and again that you can't bet against them.
Pittsburgh has plenty of retooling to do during the 2024 offseason, but getting to a state where they can go toe-to-toe with teams like the 49ers and Chiefs is nearly an impossible ask. They just can't do this.
Chiefs and 49ers each possess something the Steelers don't have
As much as we would love to think that the Pittsburgh Steelers could become the Chiefs or the 49ers in the near future, these two teams simply possess things that are nearly impossible to find.
Let's start with the 49ers. San Francisco was arguably the best team in the NFL during the 2023 season. Part of this has to do with their star-studded roster. But building a roster riddled with Hall of Fame players is something that only seems to happen once in a generation. In fact, you can argue that the Niners' current roster is the most talented we have seen since the dynasty 49ers of the 80s and early 90s.
The 49ers don't have any holes on their team while possessing numerous All-Pro players like OT Trent Williams, EDGE Nick Bosa, LB Fred Warner, WR Deebo Samuel, TE George Kittle, Talanoa Hufanga, and RB Christian McCaffrey. Others who haven't earned All-Pro honors like WR Brandon Aiyuk, QB Brock Purdy, FB Kyle Juszczyk, LB Dre Greenlaw, DT Javon Hargrave, EDGE Chase Young, and CB Charvarius Ward are still outstanding football players. Not to mention an outstanding head coach like Kyle Shanahan.
Assembling a roster like this requires consecutive years of homerun selections in the NFL Draft, statement trades, and impressive free-agent purchases. It's hard to believe that so many incredible football players can all be on the same team and yet the 49ers still found a way to be cap compliant.
The Kansas City Chiefs are a powerhouse for very different reasons. The league's most recent dynasty was made possible thanks to one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history Andy Reid and the best quarterback of this generation Patrick Mahomes. Franchise-altering assets like this don't grow on trees and Pittsburgh could go decades without finding a combination this lethal.
Obviously, this doesn't mean that the Steelers should throw in the towel. Just because they don't have a fraction of the talent of the 49ers or the Hall of Fame QB and HC combo of the Chiefs, they can still get back on top eventually. This starts with building the right way by valuing important positions in the NFL Draft.
Eventually, the Steelers will find a franchise quarterback again who gives us hope that they can compete for a title each year. Quite honestly, knowing what they have to go against in terms of QB play in the AFC each year, they shouldn't stop until they find their franchise quarterback.
Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers don't even remotely resemble the two teams that are set to play in Super Bowl LVIII. Mike Tomlin's squad is still a long way from truly contending for a Super Bowl of their own, but if they can alter some outdated philosophies and have several consecutive great draft classes, they can get back on a winning track sooner than we think.