It's time to turn our focus to week 3 and the San Francisco 49ers. We already have a few distinct advantages heading into our next contest. One, the 49ers will be working on a short week after playing on Monday night football. Two, I expect a hard hitting/physical battle tonight that could have lingering effects on next weeks competition. Finally, they must travel and play in a highly motivated Arrowhead Stadium.
So, what can we learn from the 49ers tonight that will give us even more of an advantage come Sunday? After the jump are a few things I will be watching closely and I hope you add your own thoughts in the comments section.
1. Will Smith (DE Saints) vs. Joe Staley (LT 49ers)
Will Smith recorded 13 sacks last season and made an appearance in the Pro Bowl. The Saints run a base 4-3 but you will see them play the 3-4 on some occasions. I am especially interested in how Staley is able to pass block while the Saints are in the 3-4. Will Smith is a great DE but I think Hali will give Staley more trouble because he seems to have more difficulty with speed rushers.
This will be a great match-up and one that Eric Berry should pay close attention to. It's an advantage that we got to see Gates in week one and I believe we may attack Davis in the same manor. However, we have to be IMO more careful here because I like the other offensive weapons in San Fran over those in SD. If Berry is able to take those learning opportunities out of the SD game and apply them next Sunday vs. Davis, I think it will speak volumes of this kids ability to play in the NFL. I think Berry can learn a lot from the Pro Bowler (Harper) during this contest.
3. Patrick Willis(LB 49ers) vs. NO Saints OL
Patrick Willis is the best LB in the NFL. He will be a huge factor every week he plays. I am going to focus on few things in particular with Willis vs. the Saints that will help us understand how the Chiefs should prepare and ultimately control him next Sunday. First, the blitz: how many times, what gaps does he like to hit and does he come delayed/disguised or just in your face try to stop me? Second, coverage out of the backfield: I am in no way comparing the skills of Reggie Bush and Jamaal Charleshowever, I think the Saints will use Reggie in much a way the Chiefs SHOULD use JC. I think Willis will be the primary defender to check whoever the Saints send out of the backfield. Finally, how does Willis match up on Reggie/McCluster when lined up in the slot? Again, I think we can learn a lot from watching this game due to some similarities between our weapons and the Saints.
4. Alex Smith (QB 49ers) to Michael Crabtree (WR1 49ers)
Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree were not on the same page week one. Make no mistake that Crabtree is the number one option for Smith after Vernon Davis. Last week, Smith and Crabtree connected only twice and both of Smith INTs were on passes targeted at Crabtree. We can only hope that they do not get in a rhythm and bring that into Arrowhead. Crabtree is the type of WR that could potentially give Brandon Flowers trouble and if he gains confidence this week, it will only be that much more difficult.
So, my point is I think the Chiefs and us fans can learn a lot while watching tonight's game. In any event, it allows us at AP to take a good look in prime-time at our next opponent.
I look forward to hearing what you will be watching tonight and why you think it is important in context to next weeks match-up in Arrowhead.