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49ers-Chiefs: Jamaal Charles Is The Man To Watch

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the Chiefs #1 ranked special teams unit and how much they have contributed to the Chiefs 2-0 record thus far. They've got some explosive weapons back there and will be an area the 49ers best be ready to contain.

The other key to the Chiefs success, particularly if they want to win this Sunday, is the performance of running back Jamaal Charles. In 2009, Charles led the Chiefs in rushing yards with 1,120 yards. What's most impressive about that performance is the fact that he did it on 190 carries, which averages out to 5.9 yards a carry. That's absolutely filthy. In 2010, Charles leads the team with 141 yards on 22 rushes, which averages out to 6.4 yards per carry. It's an incredibly small sample size, but I think we all can agree that Jamaal Charles is a fairly beastly running back.

What's even more amazing is that Thomas Jones, signed this past offseason by the Chiefs, has received 33 carries on the season while averaging 3.7 yards per carry. The Chiefs are 2-0 so Todd Haley will continue looking good, but are you kidding me? I suppose the argument could be made that Charles is effective because his carries are limited. Personally I'd want to test that theory out with Charles, but I'm not head coach of the Chiefs.

Chiefs coach Todd Haley indicated that the Chiefs would utilize Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones specifically based on the given matchup. The folks at Rotoworld seemed to think that given the Browns weakness up the middle, that that's the reason the Chiefs went more with Jones last week. More importantly, given the 49er strength up the middle, we might expect to see a larger dose of Charles on Sunday.

If that's the case, it should be an intriguing matchup. While the 49ers are strong up the middle, they also have a pair of cornerbacks in Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer that are quite solid in run support. Throw in safety Michael Lewis (much stronger in run support than pass support), and I'm not as concerned about that matchup as I might otherwise be. Jamaal Charles is certainly a challenge, but I'd argue the 49ers run defense is a challenge he has yet to face. I won't guarantee a shutdown, but I like the 49er chances in containing such a key aspect of the Chiefs offense.