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5 players to watch on the 49ers defense against the Chiefs: Starting to get healthy

These 5 will have to bring it Sunday to slow down Patrick Mahomes

San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 49ers' defense faces their biggest challenge of 2022 so far against the Kansas City Chiefs and their top-scoring offense. However, reinforcements are on their way with Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam, Talanoa Hufanga, and others nearing a return from injury just in time for Sunday.

Here are the five players to watch on the 49ers' defense as they will try to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense:

DE Nick Bosa

It’s no secret how important Bosa is to the 49ers' defense. Bosa finished Week 5 against Carolina with only one pressure, but he did suffer a groin injury, so that could be the reason for the low output. Outside of Carolina, his lowest number of pressures in a game this season was three back in Week 1. In the other three games Bosa has played, he had no fewer than five pressures, peaking at 14 against the Rams. The 49ers' defense totaled just five pressures against the Falcons last week in Bosa’s absence.

CB Samuel Womack

Womack played 29 snaps on the outside on Sunday against the Falcons, which was 17 more snaps on the outside than his previous five games combined. In those 29 snaps, he was targeted just once, allowing a completion for seven yards. As we know, that completion was a touchdown.

It’s likely that Womack will see just as many snaps on the outside on Sunday against the Chiefs. It’s a role that Womack saw in college, but he was drafted with the idea he’d be more of a slot corner. His versatility is an asset and will be put to the test against Patrick Mahomes.

CB Jason Verrett

As of this writing, it’s still up in the air if Verrett will play Sunday or not, but if he does, it’ll be a huge boost to the 49ers' secondary. As it stands, the 49ers will be without Emmanuel Moseley, and it’s looking less and less likely that Mooney Ward will be able to play against his former team with a groin injury.

If Ward misses Sunday and Verrett is held out, the 49ers cornerbacks will be Womack, Deommodore Lenoir, and Ambry Thomas against Mahomes and company. If Verrett can go, that might be a big if; the veteran presence alone would be a huge boost for the 49ers' defense.

S Jimmie Ward

As with Verrett, Ward’s status is unknown as of Thursday night with a broken hand, but he did return to practice, and if he does play, it will be with a cast on his hand. The 49ers were teased with a potential Ward return two weeks ago against Carolina, but he broke his hand on the opening kickoff and only managed one snap on defense. Ward’s role, if he does play, might not be huge due to the injury and Tashaun Gipson’s consistent play in replacement of Ward, but a return from the safety will be a sight for sore eyes with the number of injuries on the defense.

S Talanoa Hufanga

Hufanga didn’t practice with the team on Thursday but is trending in the right direction, as he did individual workouts with his helmet on. Hufanga will face an arduous task Sunday as he will likely see Travis Kelce in coverage on some plays while also being responsible for containing Mahomes and trying to prevent him from his famed off-scheduled plays. Hufanga has become an integral part of the defense, and his turnover-hunting could come into play against Kansas City with Mahomes' risk-taking. Add a potential Jimmie Ward return, and the 49ers are set at the safety position.