The San Francisco 49ers square off against the Kansas City Chiefs Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. PT at Arrowhead Stadium. We've had some great interaction between 49ers and Chiefs fans this week, and you can still join in the discussion. Here are the four posts we've done thus far (with one more likely to go up sometime tomorrow):
NN: What concerns 49ers most about the Chiefs?
AP: Which 49ers player would Chiefs fans take today?
NN: Which Chiefs player would 49ers fans take today?
AP: Rank these former 49ers-turned-Chiefs quarterbacks
I also wanted to get some quick answers from Arrowhead Pride to a few basic questions about the Chiefs. It's not quite the same Q&A where we're breaking down all the strengths and weaknesses. Rather, it's a mix of that and just getting to know the Chiefs and what we can expect to see from them on Friday and through the season.
Thanks to Joel Thorman and the folks at Arrowhead Pride for their great hospitality this week.
Niners Nation: Any idea on expected snaps for your starters? Also, which starters are expected to sit with injuries? (Editor's Note: Andy Reid updated the starter snaps, but the injury information is still pertinent)
Arrowhead Pride: The Chiefs starters played just one series last week and all we know for sure at this point is that they will play more this time around. I take that to mean that they could play as much as the entire first quarter. I hope to see at least three series out of each first team unit.
Among the starters expected to sit is Jamaal Charles, who was hurt on Monday. It's just a foot strain, a minor injury, but it will likely keep him out. The Chiefs haven't confirmed yet that he's out but we expect him to. Starting inside linebacker Akeem Jordan was not at the Chiefs Wednesdaypractice, so he's another one to keep an eye on. Outside of those two, there aren't any major injuries. A few fringe roster players are dinged up but nothing notable.
NN: Andy Reid, Alex Smith and the offense get a lot of the ink, but the Chiefs added in Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson, Akeem Jordan and Mike Devito to the defense. What are the primary strengths and weaknesses of what appears to be a bit of an overhaul to the Chiefs defense?
AP: The strengths appear to be the cornerbacks and pass rushers. Brandon Flowers is so, so good and doesn't get enough credit as one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the league. Sean Smith has had a very good camp. He's a biiiig dude at 6'3 so it's been fun to watch him press receivers because he has the size to do it. Dunta Robinson appears to be the third cornerback but I'm not as high on him as I am Smith and Flowers. He's spent some time in the trainers room early in camp.
At pass rusher, we feel confident in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. After that? We don't know where the pass rush will come from. Perhaps the biggest strength for the Chiefs defense could come from Dontari Poe, the nose tackle. He's had a good camp and looked strong in the first preseason game. Watch out for him this year.
The weaknesses come at the two defensive end spots -- Tyson Jackson and Mike DeVito. We just don't know how well they'll perform this year and that's been a problem area in the past. On paper, the Chiefs defense looks very strong. Then again, it looked pretty good on paper last year and we all know how that ended up.
NN: What are some of the key position battles you all will be tracking?
AP: ILB: Akeem Jordan, the veteran vs. Nico Johnson, the rookie. Jordan likely starts the season opener but Nico will push for playing time.
S: Kendrick Lewis is the incumbent opposite Eric Berry. Others battling for that spot include Husain Abdullah, who will likely see playing time in some fashion. Rookie Sanders Commings broke his collarbone early in camp.
No. 2 RB: This will be one we can learn a lot about in Friday's game, assuming Jamaal Charles sits. Knile Davis has been the man early but he has his issues, such as drops and fumbles. Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray are behind him, with Draughn leading the race between those two.
NN: Who should 49ers fans pay attention to when the third and fourth quarter rolls around and we have no idea who is on the field?
AP: Good question. Quintin Demps, a safety, has shown flashes. Vince Agnew, a cornerback, has also shown flashes, but the wrong kind. He was torched for 11 receptions and two touchdowns in his first game. Tyler Bray, the Chiefs third quarterback, has a cannon for an arm and is someone you will notice.
NN: How good can the Chiefs be this year? The 49ers have a vested interest in 8-8 or better!
AP: I'd put it somewhere around 7-9 wins, which is a huge leap from two wins last year. There's a lot of optimism around Kansas City this year, especially after a terrific first team outing last Friday night, but we also felt optimistic last year and we know how that turned out. So while I like where the Chiefs are at right now, 2-14 keeps creeping in my head. If the defense can pressure the passer, and Jamaal Charles stays healthy, I can see the Chiefs being competitive in December.
NN: Gotta have one Alex Smith question. How are Chiefs fans taking to Smith thus far? He had a very solid drive against the Saints. How has the reaction developed since the Chiefs acquired him before and through last week's performance?
AP: Chiefs fans really like Alex Smith so far. Of course, there are plenty of people who liken him to Matt Cassel, the Chiefs last quarterback. And, no, that is not a good thing. Anytime you have a new quarterback like Alex Smith there are going to be divided opinions, but overall I would say the reaction has been positive. His performance in the first drive last weekend has brought along more optimism but there are plenty of people, like me, who want to see him do this consistently throughout multiple preseason games.