The San Francisco 49ers catapulted into ‘Super Bowl or bust’ when they acquired superstar Christian McCaffrey. However, their Week 7 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs rehashes Super Bowl 54’s wounds.
Kyle Shanahan hopes to make a statement win against Kansas City’s number-one scoring offense. At the same time, DeMeco Ryans’ defense looks to bounce back after looking sloppy in Atlanta.
Shanahan gets his offensive juices going
Shanahan’s offense hasn’t scored in the second half in any of the three losses this year. Fingers can be pointed at creativity and execution. All-Pro Trent Williams is back to help get the offensive line back on track. Williams aids a stagnant rushing attack and will help wall off the likes of Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap, and George Karlaftis. All four of these players are also at the top of Kansas City’s pass-rush production.
Head coach and play-caller Andy Reid will force Shanahan to pull out all the tricks he can. Football is a game of inches, and Shanahan is one of the best at getting receivers open. I hope Shanahan keeps an attacking offense with Garoppolo’s hot hand. The rushing attack will need a new splash to get this Chiefs’ defense off balance. Will we see Williams in motion on third and short again?
DeMeco Ryans’ returnees make impact plays for the defense
Nick Bosa, Jimmie Ward, Samson Ebukam, and Talanoa Hufanga look to return against a high-powered Chiefs offense Sunday. Ryans’ defense stayed on their heels last week as Marcus Mariota made all the right plays against a depleted defense.
Getting key starters back is enormous. Mooney Ward is questionable. We’ll see if he suits up. The defense must get off the field on third down, and pass rushers cannot get too rush-happy as Mahomes can gash defenses with his legs.
Garoppolo keeps the hot hand going
Jimmy Garoppolo has been in ‘Gucci Garopp’ mode after knocking off the cobwebs in a murky Week 3 start. The nine-year vet must do some heavy lifting to ensure a 49ers victory. There’s a tight window for matching aggressiveness with ball security. Garoppolo’s two interceptions in Atlanta were slightly overblown. He gave Samuel a chance at the end of the half with no timeouts first, and the other was a bang-bang play.
Garoppolo can lean on Samuel and Aiyuk but shouldn’t be naïve to getting Kyle Juszczyk and George Kittle the ball. Shanahan needs Garoppolo’s Week 5 performance on third down to keep the chains moving and up the score. We knew the offense has to carry the load to keep up with the NFL’s new high-scoring league.
I want to call this a must-win game, but it isn’t. San Francisco should be 6-0, but they can change their identity by going 5-3 heading into the bye. The execution must make a significant turnaround before the outside chatter turns into team regression.
The 49ers need the faithful in Levi’s Stadium to make the Chiefs uncomfortable with a ton of noise. It would be horrifying to lose embarrassingly in front of Jim Harbaugh and the 2012 49ers team.