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49ers-Chiefs: The Chiefs Pass Rush And Alex Smith

As is the case with many quarterbacks, 49ers QB Alex Smith often finds success when his offensive line keeps defenders at bay and doesn't force Smith to run for his life. Even when Smith has found success scrambling it has been more a matter of defenders being covered rather than truly being forced to run for his life. Accordingly, it would seem pertinent to assess the Kansas City Chiefs pass rush heading into tomorrow's game.

A quick perusal of stats indicates a poor defensive front seven in terms of the pass rush. The team has amassed two sacks in two games, which ranks them in a tie for second to last. I did a quick check and they have hit the QB eight times in two games. There isn't a ranking for that, but in comparison, the 49ers have six QB hits. The real problem is that I can't find a listing of QB hurries by team or even player. Justin Smith is always high on that list, but without a rundown it's hard to make comparisons.

Joel spoke briefly about the pass rush in our five questions exchange saying:

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.

For some more specific details, check out these AP rundowns by KaloPhoenix concerning week one and week two. Based on these rundowns, we can expect a lot of 3-4, with much of the rest of the time seeing a nickel defense. The defense ranks in the middle of the pack right now primarily because the pass defense brings it down. In looking over KaloPhoenix's rundown, he definitely seems more impressed with their defense of the run and they seem to be getting burned a decent amount by short passes to the running back. Can anyone say get Brian Westbrook out there?

According to KP's rundown (if I'm reading it correctly), the Chiefs had 17 QB pressures in week 1 and six QB pressures in week 2. For comparison's sake, the 49ers had 8 in week 1 (week 2 numbers not available at the time the info was sent out). That would seem to reinforce Joel's comment about the pass rush being inconsistent. If the 49ers offensive line shows up tomorrow like it did against the Saints, I'd imagine they could keep that pressure number down. And if the pressure starts building, a screen or swing pass here or there to Gore or Westbrook (god forbid he get on the field) could clean that up a bit.

What do you expect to see from the Chiefs pass rush tomorrow and will it enable Alex Smith to find more success?