The 49ers defense is ranked 4th in the NFL in total yards given up. Generally when you see a stat like that, you're dealing with a pretty good defense.
The problem is that the 49ers are 30th in points allowed.
Overall they're considered a very solid defense and I don't think the Chiefs can reasonably expect a high-scoring output. They were 4th in the NFL in points allowed last year and a tough couple of losses won't change the fact that it's a good defense.
Chiefs coach Todd Haley mentioned a few players this week when talking about the 49ers defense. Consider these a few of the key defensive players for the 49ers:
- DE Justin Smith: Here's a 3-4 defensive end that can get to the quarterback. Generally in a 3-4 you're not worried about the defensive ends rushing the passer but Smith can create some trouble.
- LB Patrick Willis: Arguably the best linebacker in football. Willis is someone that has to be accounted for on every single play. Avoiding a bit Willis play is key this game.
- CB Nate Clements: He got a big contract a few years back and kind of disappeared. Still, he's a good play and will likely be part of the reason the Chiefs attack the other side of the field.
The Chiefs overall theme in this game should and probably will be rushing the football. Haley already said that the first goal in his mind for the offense is to rush the ball well.
With that in mind, here are a few goals for the Chiefs offense against the 49ers.
- Rush the ball. It's simple, really. The Chiefs offensive game plan should be to rush the ball. A lot. Matt Cassel hasn't shown much in the last couple of games so maybe they shouldn't try to get him going. Instead they should just run the ball. Oh yeah, run it with Jamaal Charles, too.
- No turnovers: The one thing the Chiefs can not afford is turnovers on the offense. That is a big no-no. Throwing it away and punting is always better than turning the ball over.
- Avoid sacks. The Chiefs may not pass very often in this game but when they do drop back, they can't turn it into a negative play. If the Chiefs are put into a situation where they need more than 10, it's generally not a good sign.
Strength vs. Strength: Can the 49ers stop the run?
Absolutely they can. They've given up 31 and 25 points in two games but allowed just 77 and 50 yards rushing in those games. That's good enough for 6th in the NFL.
They're a stout group in the middle which means the Chiefs best option may be to give more carries to Charles, who has a burst on the outside.
Projecting the Chiefs
Here's how I think the Chiefs will end up after Sunday.
- QB Matt Cassel: 195 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions
- RB Thomas Jones: 55 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
- RB Jamaal Charles: 85 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
- WR Dexter McCluster: 15 receiving yards, 5 rushing yards, 0 touchdowns.
- WR Dwayne Bowe: 4 receptions, 30 yards, 0 touchdowns
- WR Chris Chambers: 3 receptions, 65 yards, 1 touchdowns
- TE Tony Moeaki: 4 receptions, 40 yards, 0 touchdown
The Chiefs are going to rush the ball as much as they can. The 49ers are obviously prepared for this. I suspect neithre side expects Cassel to be put in a position where he has to win the game.