The 49ers enter a week two matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs looking to get off the schneid and get their first win of the season. They face a Chiefs team that I think many would agree has a lot to prove. The Chiefs are 2-0 and a win over the Chargers is certainly solid. However, it remains to be seen what kind of team they really are two weeks into the season. Even though the 49ers are 0-2, I think the Chiefs could view this as a statement game in their bid to establish credibility in the league.
We're back this week with five questions, this time with Joel from Arrowhead Pride. Many of you might not be aware of this, but Arrowhead Pride is the most trafficked football site on the network. We've got a host of great sites and AP is certainly near the top. Check them out this week to get all your Chiefs info. In the meantime, thanks to Joel for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Fooch: The Chiefs obviously are finding success with the dual back system of Charles and Jones. However, it's screwing up my fantasy team as Charles gets hosed out of carries! Do you see the time-share continuing even though Charles seems to be the better of the two backs?
AP: Here's the thing, David: Last year Todd Haley sent Larry Johnson out on the field for seven consecutive games even though he was among the league's worst runners. Maybe Haley loves power backs but I can tell you he really likes Thomas Jones. While no players are considered above the team in Kansas City, I think Haley has a few favorites and Jones would be on that list. No one really knows how this will end up but you've gotta think that the current 33:22 ratio can't continue much longer. Then again, we said the same thing every week during the LJ era in 2009.
Fooch: What's up with the Chiefs pass rush? I haven't seen much of the Chiefs but it seems to be a bit of a weakness.
AP: It's strange and definitely a hard group to figure out. They didn't have a sack in three of the four preseason games. They broke out one game with five sacks leading many to believe that the pass rush was turning the corner. You gotta remember: This team has 32 sacks over the last two years. In 2008 the Chiefs set a NFL record for least amount of sacks (10). Even below average would be considered an improvement. They did OK against the Chargers with a couple of sacks but Philip Rivers still had plenty of time on most plays. That said, the Chiefs defense is still putting up a tremendous effort. At this point, I'd label the pass rush inconsistent but well capable of getting it done.
Fooch: It seems like special teams has been the difference maker for the Chiefs. Do you see the Chiefs maintaining a strong performance on special teams all season long? It seems like there's been a platoon of sorts between Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster. What should the 49ers expect from the Chiefs return game this weekend?
AP: A big chunk of the Chiefs first victory can be chalked up to special teams. Throughout the preseason and into the first game against the Chargers, the Chiefs return game was excellent. I mean...they were really good. Javier Arenas had a 99-yard return called back and in each of the first four preseason games, either Arenas or Dexter McCluster had a return over 40 yards. They didn't do much against the Browns but I think that's because the Browns had given plenty of attention to those returners. If I'm one of the Chiefs opponents, the coverage teams are a high priority. The Chiefs have been winning games with the help of non-offensive touchdowns, so shutting them down on special teams would go a long way to beating them. I think they need big plays like that to compete consistently.
Fooch: What does Todd Haley bring to the table as head coach of the Chiefs?
AP: It's hard to say, really. In year one, I'd say he created a very tense, uncomfortable environment for a lot of the players. Some would say that after three years of the Herm Edwards era that was needed. He's said on more than a few occasions that year one was one of the hardest he's been apart of. In year two, it seems that he's more respected around the locker room. That's not to say players didn't respect him before -- well, some did and some didn't -- but at least now they know where he's coming from. He's pretty consistent, from what I can tell, and seems to get most of the guys to rally around the whole team aspect. Of course, winning solves anything. If the Chiefs go on a big losing streak, then the same criticisms of him that were out there last year will return.
Fooch: How legit are the Chiefs as a 2-0 squad? I know 2-0 is better than 0-2, but I recall the 49ers starting 2-0 in 2007 before the wheels absolutely fell off. How comfortable are you with the Chiefs at this point and what do you see as their biggest weakness thus far?
AP: Are they legit? Well, there are a couple schools of thought. For those saying that they're not legit, they'll say that they beat the Chargers because they were fired up on Monday Night Football and the word fluke will be thrown around. They'll also say the Browns aren't a very good team to begin with so that win can't be that impressive. For those saying that they are legit, they'll say look around the league. Two out of three 2-0 teams make the playoffs and the Chiefs have already beat the defending division champions. The 2010 Chiefs are going to be good enough to be competing for the playoffs, they'll say. My gut feeling is that this is a Chiefs team that will be hovering around all season. I don't think they're going to blow anyone away in the division but through November and December they'll be a tough out in the division. My short answer is that I don't know what type of team they are. The 49ers game will go a long way to figuring that out.