Eavesdropping On The Enemy: Chiefs-49ers

Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans of the individual teams are the true experts on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Each week I'll attempt to find out how they view the upcoming game, how their offense will fare against the Chiefs defense and how their defense will fare against the Chiefs offense.

This week the Chiefs try to get their first win of the season when they host the San Francisco 49ers. In recent history, the Chiefs have faired well against NFC opponents in Kansas City, posting an 18-4 record since 1995. This week I spied on two 49ers message boards: The Red Zone and 49ers Hardcore. As expected, the fans on these boards are confident of a 49ers win.

49ers Offense vs. Chiefs Defense:

"It's my feeling that Frank will be absolutely pumped for this game. I can imagine how angry he has been with himself this week and just waiting to let all that frustration out on the Chiefs on Sunday." Niner/Vikes Guy – San Francisco Illustrated

"Prediction: Frank will run for 158 yards and 1 TD on 27 carries." CSULB49er – San Francisco Illustrated

"I TOTALLY AGREE WITH....BRYANT WILL HAVE OVER 100 AS WELL." Roseann – San Francisco Illustrated

The Spy's Analysis

Clearly, stopping San Francisco's running game is going to be key in this game. Frank Gore has been a very pleasant surprise this season, averaging 88 yards and one touchdown per game. The Chiefs rush defense has been relatively solid this season. The key will be the ability of the front four to be disruptive and the linebackers to fly to the ball. It would also help if the Chiefs could force a fumble or two in the running game. Gore has coughed it up in every game this year.

Another issue for Kansas City's defense is the need to put pressure on the quarterback. 49er quarterback Alex Smith is playing much better this season, so it is imperative that the Chiefs get in his face and put him on his back. Historically, Arrowhead has been a very difficult place for quarterbacks visiting for the first time.

49ers Defense vs. Chiefs Offense

"LJ is going to get shut down, just like Edge, and Steven Jackson." CSULB49er – San Francisco Illustrated

"I'm more worried with Larry Johnson considering he's a big back and the fact that we're having a lot of miss tackles. If we can't stop the run then KC is going to have a lot of opportunities to make plays on us." xeemyang – The Red Zone

"I think this is a good matchup to help our team get ahead. My plan since KC has been unbalanced this season is to take the run away from KC and force Hoard to beat us with his arm." xxSHARKxx – The Red Zone

"I see this as being a relatively low-scoring game. Kansas City this year looks very similar to St. Louis, except with less-talented wide receivers. It looks like Herm Edwards really coached up the defense, but without Green, the passing game is relatively stagnant. As long as our defense can focus on the running game and keep Johnson in check, we have a good chance to win. Hell, we let Steven Jackson pile up 100+ yards and still won that one." Turgy22 – The Red Zone

The Spy's Analysis

I'll say it again: clearly, the running game is going to be key to this game, as it will be in every Chiefs game this season. The 49ers have yielded 117 yards per game on the ground this season. Larry Johnson will need to achieve that average and probably a bit more. The Chiefs will also need to press the ball downfield in the passing game. After having a week off because of the bye, it should be safe to assume that the Chiefs used that time to get quarterback Damon Huard more comfortable in the passing game. San Francisco is giving up an average of 230 yards and two touchdowns per game in the passing game. Kansas City's weapons of Eddie Kennison, Samie Parker, Tony Gonzalez and newcomer Rod Gardner need to breakout in this game.

The Spy's Summary

It is very rare to have a must-win game this early in the season. However, that is exactly where the Chiefs find themselves. If the Chiefs lose and fall to 0-3, all hopes for a playoff run are probably dead. Besides losing the season, an 0-3 start to the Herm Edwards Era could cause him to lose the fan base as well. The good news is that this game should be exactly what Edwards wants, a physical game that will be decided by the running game and a strong defense. Whichever team runs the ball effectively and creates turnovers will win.

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