After a heartbreaking loss to the Buffalo Bills last week, the Kansas City Chiefs will face one of the NFC’s marquee teams in the San Fransisco 49ers. This game will not be short on talent and could be one of the NFL’s most interesting regular season matchups.
The Chiefs’ Offensive Line vs Nick Bosa
The Chiefs’ offensive line was beaten in nearly every phase by the Buffalo Bills, both run blocking and pass blocking, which was a key contributor to why the Chiefs ended up losing the game. Patrick Mahomes was sacked three times and hit nine times. Bills star pass rusher Von Miller lead the way with two sacks, and gave the Chiefs tackles fits all game. This week will be no easier. Nick Bosa enters the matchup for San Fransisco tied for second in the NFL with six sacks on the year. He is the key cog in an elite San Fransisco defense and will be a key player in this week’s game.
His rare blend of power and speed makes him a mismatch nightmare, but his combination of pass-rush moves makes him one of the best in the game. The speed to power, bull rush, swim and rip move are all a part of the arsenal that the has used to terrorize the league tackles this season. Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie must come ready to play, but the Chiefs coaching staff can help them out by moving the slide protection to the side that Bosa lines up on, giving them inside help from the guards, and essentially allowing them to aggressively set Bosa up the field and not be beaten by his speed outside.
They could use chip blocks, but as I illustrated earlier this week, the Chiefs’ use of chip blocks to help the tackles has become very predictable. Whichever side wins this matchup will win the game.
Nick Bolton and Willie Gay vs Deebo Samuel
Willie Gay will return to action for Kansas City after serving a four-game suspension. His return could not come at a better time with the Chiefs set to face the game-breaking playmaker Deebo Samuel, who is by all accounts the 49er’s most dangerous player. Samuel blends the ability to run with power and use his elite speed to break big plays. Although he is listed as a wide receiver, he is used in many ways, including as a running back and pass-catching target out of the backfield.
To beat the Chiefs San Fransisco will try to get the ball in the hands of their best playmaker and it will be up to the Chiefs to stop it. Having Gay back is huge because he has the athletic ability to cover Samuel in the flat and on routes around the line of scrimmage. Nick Bolton is one of the game’s elite run-stuffing linebackers and will play his role to stop Samuel when he is in the backfield.
We have seen Bolton thrive in the past taking on runners like Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor, which is good for the Chiefs because Samuel does have similar running tendencies out of the backfield to those two players. To beat the 49ers the Chiefs must limit Samuel, and that starts with Bolton and Gay.
JuJu Smith-Schuster vs Charvarious Ward
A matchup that not many are talking about this week, but one that is likely to make a significant outcome on the game will be the matchup out wide vs Smith-Schuster, and former Chief Charvarious Ward. After signing with San Fransisco in the offseason Ward is having the best year of his career, top five in pass breakups, and a wizard in coverage.
Smith-Schuster is coming off his best game as a Chief, recording five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. As Patrick Mahomes has grown more comfortable with him we have seen his role increase in the past weeks. As teams look to take away Travis Kelce this has opened opportunities for JuJu who we have seen have success running slant patterns, but who is also in sync with Mahomes on the scrambles. It is likely Ward will be on Shuster all game, and if Mahomes is able to throw to his second option it should lead to a Chiefs victory. If not then it will be a long day for KC.