Both of these squads are thus far known for their stout defenses and their high profile coaches who lead their charge. While Mike Singletary isn't necessarily the defensive coordinator in San Francisco, he's breathed new life into a defense featuring the likes of Patrick Willis, a mirror image of Singletary from nearly a quarter century ago. The Niners' defense allows just over 260 yards per game on average, best for fourth in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs' defense under Romeo Crennel isn't necessarily tops in the league, but has contributed heavily to the team's two victories. They've played hard when it's counted most. The Niners' defense fell flat against the Seahawks by allowing 31 points in Week One, but then held the world champion Saints to only 22 in regulation. It was a last second field goal that led the Saints to victory, and even though the kick was tipped, it was still hit strong enough to cross the bar.
Alex Smith has been anything but consistent in a 49ers uniform.
On offense, it's easy to see that the Chiefs and Niners have quarterbacks who have been dogged for most of their careers in the NFL. San Francisco's Alex Smith was the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft and has just now emerged as a promising signal-caller for the franchise. It was probably extremely tempting for Mike Singletary to cut ties with Smith when he took over head coaching duties, especially when quarterback Shaun Hill seemed to leapfrog him on the depth chart for good.
But Singletary stuck to Smith because he must have realized that the team needed to find a new franchise quarterback. For a franchise best known for drafting Joe Montana, then acquiring Steve Young, the Niners needed to find a guy for a new generation. The Chiefs tried to do the same in drafting Brodie Croyle, and while he's still on the team, they instead opted in acquiring Matt Cassel to fill the shoes.
Smith may very well be fortunate in having been with the same franchise for the past six seasons, while Cassel enters just his second. Regardless, both teams feature quarterbacks who have shown flashes of success but have struggled mightily in winning over their fan bases and teammates.
Finally, the coaches who lead these two teams enter seasons in which they have clearly attained the trust of their respective locker rooms. Niners coach Mike Singletary has been well known for being a no-tolerance kind of coach, as evidenced with his tussles with Vernon Davis. On the other hand, Chiefs coach Todd Haley can be viewed the same way, but has much more work to do in making a name for himself.
Singletary is a hall of fame linebacker with glimpses of his former coach Mike Ditka shining through, and Haley is a coach who is hoping to join the ranks of his idol Bill Parcells as one of the best coaches in the league.
San Francisco entered 2010 with plenty of talk about how they would cruise to their first NFC West division championship while Kansas City settled for "surprise team" talk or another third of fourth place finish. Now the tables have turned and San Francisco is at the bottom hoping to save a season that they fully planned on making their first trip to the playoffs since 2002.
With the Chiefs 2-0 start, Haley's bunch has fans buzzing about a return to the playoffs in 2010.
Kansas City, on the other hand, has the NFL abuzz about challenging for their first playoff trip since 2006, not to mention their first division title since 2003.
This shocking start to San Francisco's season and Kansas City's hot streak has the NFL talking. It might be a reach to say that both teams are heading in different directions, since it's still only September. Regardless, though, the Chiefs and Niners share the fact that they're hoping to start anew. These two teams are long removed from their championship-contending days, but hope to write new chapters for their storied franchises.
Kansas City and San Francisco's defenses have so far proven that they can contend with the best of the best, be it San Diego or New Orleans. Their quarterbacks are hoping to find stable ground, and their coaches are hoping to join the ranks of the best in NFL history.
2010 marks new chapters for both San Francisco and Kansas City. We'll just have to wait to see how the stories continue.