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Chiefs-49ers preview: Mo Claiborne and others make their debut

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How will the new Chiefs cornerback handle his unofficial debut at Arrowhead Stadium?

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It’s dress rehearsal week for the Chiefs as they take on the San Francisco 33ers 49ers. On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three things on offense and defense we’re paying attention to.

Offense

Offensive rhythm

This is the last opportunity to see the Chiefs offense play together before Jacksonville. The rain delay in Pittsburgh led to a brief, sloppy performance for half a quarter before Andy Reid elected to pull Patrick Mahomes from the game. The performance was uneventful, including Mahomes chucking a ball out of bounds on what appeared to be a broken play.

You’re likely to see Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce and the rest of the starters for more time today than you saw them the rest of the preseason combined. I want to see some rhythm to this group. Let’s see a taste of the explosiveness we anticipate for 2019. Maybe we even see Mecole Hardman get a shot downfield from the reigning MVP?

Wide receiver usage

De’Anthony Thomas is back on the team after signing this week. He seems like a direct replacement for Marcus Kemp as a special teams player taking up a receiver spot on the 53-man roster.

This puts Cody Thompson and Byron Pringle on notice as players who are vying for a spot on the roster now. When the likes of Pringle and Thompson get into the game and with who could give you a clue on where they stand. At this point, I believe Thompson on the outside looking in, unfortunately.

Is Cam Erving the new left guard?

It sounds as though Erving has replaced Andrew Wylie this week on the interior of the offensive line. Erving has had a pair of rough preseason games at left tackle, so moving him back inside would make sense. However, Wylie hasn’t shown anything to warrant moving him out of the starting unit. Wylie has more ability as a swing tackle than Erving, but I also believe he’s a better guard. Seeing who starts this game will give us a picture of the plan moving forward. You don’t just give a new guard reps on the week of your dress rehearsal game.

Defense

Mo Claiborne

We’re going to get our first look at Claiborne in a Chiefs uniform. It might be our only one until Week 5 of the regular season. I could also see them giving him some work in Week 4 of the preseason to help shorten the gap between live action and the end of his suspension.

Regardless, I want to see what the 2019 version of Claiborne looks like. He should have success in Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme, and I would anticipate him starting when he gets back. I’m excited to see him play.

Defensive back rotation

Much like the wide receiver usage, which lines and up when in the secondary could hint at the final few roster spots. Charvarius Ward is likely safe, but players like Herb Miller, D’Montre Wade and Mark Fields are fighting for opportunities and an active roster spot. Miller has flashed, is still young and has desirable length and size. He’s probably outplayed Ward in the games to this point. Fields is a great talent, but he went undrafted after receiving less-than-stellar reviews from the Clemson coaching staff. Wade saw time early with the first and second unit in training camp, but it’s been rough since.

Games up front

We’ve seen a few stunts from the Chiefs defense, but we’d like to see some crisp, well-executed games up front. Who runs them? Who looks best? It’d be nice to get a larger sample size to get an idea of what you can expect during the season. Much like we’ve discussed at other positions, who gets the opportunities will be interesting.

Arrowhead Pride Laboratory

We went into further detail on these storylines and listed players we’re looking forward to watching on the game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.