Isiah Pacheco’s ‘Angry’ Running Style Could Help Lift Chiefs Past 49ers in Super Bowl
Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco was relaxed Wednesday as reporters peppered him with questions, the opposite of his running style that has commonly been described as angry.
When asked how he would describe his style, Pacheco deferred to the experts, or in this case the media.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid had his own description, calling Pacheco “a violent runner.”
If any player could actually run through a wall, it would be Pacheco, who punishes linebackers and defensive backs trying to bring him down.
“That starts with practice at the beginning of the week when we prepare,” Pacheco said. “I go out there with a full head of steam knowing the down and distance, getting 4 yards or whatever it may be to win the down.”
The Chiefs will need Pacheco's ability to move the chains to balance Patrick Mahomes' passing attack when they play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Pacheco, though, knows how to keep an event even as enormous as the Super Bowl in perspective.
He has suffered enormous loss away from the field, which likely fuels his play on it. Pacheco downplayed the effect of losing two siblings in his home state of New Jersey as a reason he runs so hard, saying he always had the fire inside him.
His brother, Travoise Cannon, was fatally stabbed in 2016. He was 29. Pacheco's sister, Celeste Cannon, died the following year after being shot in the head by a man who shared a child with her. She was 24.
Pacheco was in high school at the time, forcing him to grow up fast. He had the chance to leave New Jersey and play college ball elsewhere, but opted to remain in the state and play at Rutgers.
His best season was his sophomore year when Pacheco rushed for 729 yards and seven touchdowns. He failed to match those numbers his final two seasons, making Pacheco a borderline NFL prospect.
The Chiefs saw enough in him to take Pacheco in the seventh round of the 2022 draft, but a selection that late is far from a sure thing to even make the roster.
Pacheco not only made the team, he started 11 games, played in all 17 and rushed for 830 yards on 4.9 yards per play. This season, Pacheco started 13 games and gained 935 yards on a 4.6 average. He has a combined 12 touchdown runs both seasons.
“Stay patient," Pacheco said. “No matter where you go, where you come from, when you get that opportunity, make the best of it, special teams or wherever. Be the difference.”
Reid put Pacheco in select company when comparing him to another back.
“I hate even mentioning this because he was a 49er, but Roger Craig was a violent runner,” Reid said. “He was coming at you with knees, elbows, everything coming at you at one time. They're built kind of the same way.”
Craig, who played from 1983-93, could make plays in the running and passing game. He twice gained more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage, including in 1988 when he was The Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year.
He played on three Super Bowl champions with the 49ers.
Pacheco is off to a promising start with last year's title with the Chiefs and the chance to beat San Francisco this weekend. He is the fourth back to start a Super Bowl in each of his first two seasons, joining Duane Thomas and Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys and Chuck Foreman of the Minnesota Vikings.
The Niners, however, could present quite a challenge for Pacheco. They were fifth in the NFL this season in rush defense, allowing just 97 yards per game.
But San Francisco took a step back in the playoffs, allowing 136 yards on the ground to Green Bay and 182 to Detroit. But the 49ers also shut down the Lions in the second half, allowing just 34 yards rushing.
“It's a great defense over there,” Pacheco said. “I'm looking forward to competing against them. All 11 guys fly to the ball.”
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Gallery Credit: Taylor Alexis Heady