Good morning folks (and good afternoon to our friends much further East), 49ers football is back for their third game of the season today! The young 1-1 team travels to Kansas City to face the offensively-potent Chiefs, led by second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Not surprisingly, he’s put up record numbers in his first two starts of the season, completing nearly 70% of his passes, including 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He’s aided by an embarrassment of riches in the speed department thanks to RB Kareem Hunt and WR Tyreek Hill, as well as reliable targets in TE Travis Kelce and WR Sammy Watkins.
There’s no doubt that the 49ers defense will have their hands full today with this high octane offense. Robert Saleh’s unit has largely limped out of the gate, playing the kind of uninspiring ball that doesn’t match up to the amount of talent that currently exists. While CB Richard Sherman has been a pleasant surprise in his return, the secondary as a whole has been generally unimpressive, despite the mounting evidence leading into the season that this unit could be one of the strengths of the team. In fact, standout safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert have been something of a let down through two games, and CB Ahkello Witherspoon’s play last week was so poor that it necessitated his benching in the fourth quarter.
The pass rush, as expected, has been abysmal outside of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who has been an absolute terror from the interior of the defensive line. While there’s no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel for that issue as of yet, the defense will see the long-awaited return of linebacker Reuben Foster. The versatile and elite-when-available defender will slot in alongside rookie phenom Fred Warner to create, what should be, an extremely efficient defensive core, that should ideally elevate all phases of the defense. As it currently stands, however, Tartt may not take the field due to an injury sustained last week - which only makes Foster’s return that much more important in the short & intermediate coverage game, as well as run support.
Offensively, the 49ers have some serious work to do. Luckily, what was recently an impressive defense in Kansas City has become an inefficient and inviting matchup this season. Unfortunately, however, there remains the ugly truth that the Chiefs are going to hang a ton of points up this week (and probably every other week), and it’ll be up to the 49ers offense to keep this game competitive.
Chiefs defensive weaknesses to exploit | Garcia, 4th & 9
Week 3 previews & predictions | NBC Sports Bay Area Staff | Biderman, Sac Bee | Madson (Offense), Ninerswire | Madson (Defense), Ninerswire | Madson (Predictions), Ninerswire
49ers release LB Terrence Garvin, promote DB Tyvis Powell | Maiocco, NBC Sports Bay Area | Lowder, Ninerswire
Kyle Shanahan’s culture change | Wagoner, ESPN