Game Scout: Chiefs v. 49ers

The guys over at Scout.com take a different look at the Chiefs game against the 49ers on Sunday.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/01/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Chris Myers, JC Pearson, Jay Glazer
SERIES: 10th meeting. The 49ers lead the series 6-3. The 49ers have won the past two meetings since 2000. The last time the teams met in Kansas City, the 49ers lost 44-9 in 1997.

2006 RANKINGS: 49ers: offense 4th (11th rush, 6th pass); defense 25th (22nd rush, 24th pass). Chiefs: offense 27th (5th rush, 30th pass); defense 8th (24th rush, 3rd pass)

PREDICTION: 49ers 17-16

KEYS TO THE GAME:

With QB Damon Huard making his second start in place of injured Trent Green, the Chiefs will pound away with RB Larry Johnson until a 49ers front seven that lacks bulk proves it can stop him. The Chiefs do need Huard to take a few shots down field to soften the defense, but how aggressive they are could depend on if LT Kyle Turley is able to play. Kansas City will have to put some points on the board, however, because the 49ers suddenly have a balanced offense featuring playmakers in RB Frank Gore and WR Antonio Bryant. Gore's drawback has been fumbles in each of the first three games, and rookie Michael Robinson likely will take more short-yardage snaps. QB Alex Smith is showing a lot of poise, but the Chiefs still want to test his mettle by getting an early lead and forcing him to win the game while having limited weapons outside of Bryant.

FAST FACTS:

49ers: Smith has thrown 108 passes without an interception this season and has a streak of 132 overall. He needs only 61 passing yards to equal his rookie total of 875. Chiefs: Huard is 5-2 in his career as a starter. ... Johnson has rushed for at least 100 yards in six of eight career starts at home. ... TE Tony Gonzalez needs three catches to pass Ozzie Newsome (662) for second-most all-time among tight ends.

PERSONNEL NEWS:

49ers:

--RB Frank Gore is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Chiefs, but he practiced Wednesday and Thursday with sore ribs. He is likely to be upgraded to probable for the game. Gore has rushed for 266 yards and three TDs on 61 carries in the first three games.

--RB Michael Robinson appears to have earned the job as short-yardage back, with his tough 1-yard TD runs against the Eagles. Robinson also is tied for the team lead with for tackles on special teams. Robinson has a sore shoulder, and is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Chiefs.

--DL Bryant Young is playing end in the 49ers' 3-4, as well as 4-3 on base plays. When the team shifts to nickel defense in the 4-3, Young moves inside to rush the passer. He will go up against Chiefs RG Will Shields on Sunday. Young has two sacks and a team-leading five quarterback pressures this season.

--FS Mike Adams is the full-time safety, while Tony Parrish and Mark Roman split time at strong safety. Adams is second on the team with 19 tackles through three games.

--RB Maurice Hicks is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Chiefs with an ankle sprain. He is likely to be upgraded to probable. Hicks is the team's No. 2 running back, and coach Mike Nolan said he fully expects Hicks to be available for Sunday's game.

Chiefs:

--T Kyle Turley missed a second straight day of workouts Thursday while experiencing soreness in his back, a condition that kept him out of football for nearly two years before joining Kansas City this season. Turley, the Chiefs' starting left tackle, was downgraded from probable to questionable and likely won't play against San Francisco on Sunday if he doesn't practice Friday (Update: Turley didn't practice and likely won't play Sunday).

--T Jordan Black will get the start at left tackle against San Francisco should Kyle Turley not be available because of his sore back. Black started six games at left tackle last year when Willie Roaf was down, and pass protection was a key issue when he played the position.

--TE Jason Dunn should see plenty of action against San Francisco as the Chiefs will use two- and sometimes three tight ends sets to provide better pass protection with Kyle Turley hurting at left tackle. The Chiefs offense likely will be more limited with multiple tight ends, but it's the best alternative to providing pass protection for backup Damon Huard.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:

49ers:

The 49ers used the No. 6 overall draft pick on tight end Vernon Davis for a reason. Davis, the highest-paid tight end in the league, has extraordinary physical skills. Yet, at this stage in their careers, backup tight end Eric Johnson is clearly the more polished pass-catcher. Johnson will get a chance to show his stuff over the next four weeks as Davis is expected to miss about a month with a hairline fracture of his right leg.

It has not taken Johnson long to build an on-field rapport with quarterback Alex Smith. Johnson could play a major role for the 49ers against the Chiefs on Sunday at noisy Arrowhead Stadium. "Eric's a good player," said Smith, who hooked up with Johnson on seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown in their first extended playing time together after Davis left with the injury in the 38-24 loss to the Eagles.

"He's a tremendously smart player. He has great hands. He has stronghands. That's pretty obvious in how he goes up for balls over the middle. He's a great technician with his routes. With his body language, he's an easy guy to read from a quarterback's perspective."

Johnson was on the verge of establishing himself as one of the game's best pass-catching tight ends in 2004 when he caught a team-leading 82 passes for 825 yards. But last season Johnson missed the entire year with a foot injury. He sat out all of 2003 with a broken collarbone. Johnson did not appear to fit into the team's plans after last season, but coach Mike Nolan said he was impressed that Johnson visited with him after the final game and promised he would do everything in his power to contribute this season.

"Really, I just made a conscious effort to be a team guy and handle my business and focus on getting better myself and helping the team," Johnson said.

Chiefs:

Quarterback Trent Green was back in the Chiefs locker room Thursday, but he's still a long way from getting back in the Kansas City lineup.

Green, sidelined since the third quarter of the season opener with a severe concussion, will miss a second game Sunday when the Chiefs return from their bye week and host San Francisco.

But while Green can finally drive himself to Arrowhead and attend team meetings with the hope of being a non-active advisor on the KC sideline Sunday, he said during his first meeting with the media Thursday that there is no timetable yet for his return. Green said it was "unreasonable" to think that he could return to practice next week and be ready to play in Arizona on Oct. 8.

Green, 36, said he had been cleared to resume some light cardio work, but he cannot yet run or lift weights.

"I know that at some point in time I'm planning to come back and play," Green said Thursday. "I've got the support of my wife and kids on this. They've just asked me to be honest with them, because from everything I've heard about concussions, if you come back too quickly from one, you're more susceptible to another one. And sometimes you can have irreversible damage if you get one stacked on another."

"But if you wait until you're healed, or at least until the CAT scans are clear, your body is no more susceptible to getting a second one than it was before. But as to when that day is, no one knows, and I've asked 100 times.

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