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Chiefs-49ers snap counts: Running back by committee remains in force

How did Kansas City use its players in Kansas City’s game against San Francisco?

Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs went on the road over the weekend, delivering a 44-23 curb-stomping to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Let’s see how the Chiefs used their players in Week 7.


Starters (offensive): WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Mecole Hardman, TE Travis Kelce, LT Orlando Brown Jr., LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith, RT Andrew Wylie, TE Noah Gray, QB Patrick Mahomes and RB Isiah Pacheco.

Starters (defensive): DE George Karlaftis, DT Derrick Nnadi, DT Chris Jones, DE Frank Clark, LB Nick Bolton, LB Willie Gay Jr., LB Leo Chenal, CB L’Jarius Sneed, CB Jaylen Watson, S Juan Thornhill and S Justin Reid.

Did not play: None

Inactive: RB Ronald Jones, QB Shane Buechele, S Nazeeh Johnson, CB Rashad Fenton, DE Michael Danna, DE Joshua Kaindoh and T Darian Kinnard.


Offensive takeaways


Thanks to the three-touchdown lead that Kansas City accumulated, Chiefs players on both sides of the ball got some snaps off in this matchup. The 49ers even (sort of) ran up the white flag, sending quarterback Brock Purdy in for Jimmy Garoppolo on their final drive.

So of the Chiefs’ offensive linemen, only guards Joe Thuney and Trey Smith were in for every snap. Geron Christian and Prince Tega Wanogho came in to play on the outside, while Nick Allegretti snapped the ball to Chad Henne on Kansas City’s last six plays.

This also meant that other reserve players (like tight ends Jody Fortson and Noah Gray) got a handful of snaps more than they would have received in a game that was competitive to the end. That’s probably why both show up as getting significantly more use than normal against the run. But’s also true that the Chiefs leaned on tight ends a bit more in this game than they usually do; the team averaged 1.67 tight ends on the field per play, which is the season’s highest figure.

On Sunday morning, we learned that the Chiefs intended to start rookie Isiah Pacheco at running back instead of Clyde Edwards-Helaire — and they did. This was interpreted by many as a sign that Kansas City was beginning to move away from 2020’s first-round pick, start running the ball more often or commence a new downhill rushing attack.

But none of those things happened. Although Pachceo saw season-high use (and Edwards-Helaire reached a season-low) each of them got almost exactly the same number of snaps — and Jerick McKinnon had more snaps than either one of them. Running-back-by-committee remains alive and well in Kansas City — and the Chiefs’ pass/run ratio of 64/36 was barely different than the season average.

At wide receiver, both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling had their lowest percentage of use this season — even though both produced as if they were on the field more often. Meanwhile, Mecole Hardman’s use on offense was up from the last couple of weeks — although hardly dramatically — while Skyy Moore and Justin Watson were in what seem to be their normal ranges. Some of the dropoff for the top wideouts is likely due to starters coming off the field late in the game. The rest is likely to be for a simple reason: when the use of tight ends increases, the use of wide receivers must fall. The team’s average of 2.22 wideouts per snap was the lowest of the season.


Defensive takeaways


Safety Juan Thornhill was the only defensive player who was on the field for every snap. After accounting for eight or 10 snaps for which defensive players sat down in the fourth quarter, safety Justin Reid — along with cornerbacks L’Jaruis Sneed and Jaylen Watson — were in for all the competitive plays. Joshua Williams again played on the outside during the time Sneed was working in the slot or the box. That’s about what we would have expected for all of those players.

Cornerbacks Chris Lammons and Dicaprio Bootle took up the fourth-quarter slack alongside safety Deon Bush. Back in the lineup, safety Bryan Cook was in the high range of his normal use.

At the second level, Nick Bolton appears to have been in the game for all the competitive reps. Even allowing for the garbage time, Willie Gay Jr. was used less than he typically was before his suspension — just 54%. Darris Harris appears to have taken up some of his snaps — along with Leo Chenal, who had a handful of snaps outside of garbage time.

On the defensive line, things looked... normal. As usual, Chris Jones saw the most use up front. Both Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders were in their normal ranges on the interior — while Taylor Stallworth was on the field for 18% of the snaps during his first game as a Chief.

On the edge — and considering the circumstances — Frank Clark and George Karlaftis were each in their normal ranges. Each of them were on the field for 68% of the snaps. Malik Herring got some extra work at the end of the game, marking a new season-high at 35% of defensive snaps. Carlos Dunlap was up a little compared to Week 6 in Buffalo — and on the high side of his normal range.


Data


Offense

Offense All Pass Run
Total 58
(100%)
37
(100%)
21
(100%)
Trey Smith 58
(100%)
37
(100%)
21
(100%)
Joe Thuney 58
(100%)
37
(100%)
21
(100%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 52
(90%)
35
(95%)
17
(81%)
Creed Humphrey 52
(90%)
35
(95%)
17
(81%)
Patrick Mahomes 52
(90%)
35
(95%)
17
(81%)
Andrew Wylie 52
(90%)
35
(95%)
17
(81%)
Travis Kelce 45
(78%)
32
(86%)
13
(62%)
Mecole Hardman 36
(62%)
21
(57%)
15
(71%)
Noah Gray 33
(57%)
13
(35%)
20
(95%)
JuJu Smith-Schuster 33
(57%)
26
(70%)
7
(33%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 32
(55%)
27
(73%)
5
(24%)
Jerick McKinnon 23
(40%)
21
(57%)
2
(10%)
Jody Fortson 19
(33%)
8
(22%)
11
(52%)
Isiah Pacheco 18
(31%)
7
(19%)
11
(52%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 17
(29%)
9
(24%)
8
(38%)
Skyy Moore 13
(22%)
11
(30%)
2
(10%)
Justin Watson 9
(16%)
8
(22%)
1
(5%)
Nick Allegretti 6
(10%)
2
(5%)
4
(19%)
Michael Burton 6
(10%)
0
(0%)
6
(29%)
Geron Christian 6
(10%)
2
(5%)
4
(19%)
Chad Henne 6
(10%)
2
(5%)
4
(19%)
Prince Tega Wanogho 6
(10%)
2
(5%)
4
(19%)
Marcus Kemp 6
(10%)
2
(5%)
4
(19%)

Defense

Defense All Pass Run
Total 72
(100%)
51
(100%)
21
(100%)
Juan Thornhill 72
(100%)
51
(100%)
21
(100%)
Justin Reid 64
(89%)
44
(86%)
20
(95%)
Jaylen Watson 64
(89%)
44
(86%)
20
(95%)
Nick Bolton 62
(86%)
42
(82%)
20
(95%)
L'Jarius Sneed 62
(86%)
42
(82%)
20
(95%)
Joshua Williams 56
(78%)
45
(88%)
11
(52%)
Chris Jones 53
(74%)
36
(71%)
17
(81%)
Frank Clark 49
(68%)
35
(69%)
14
(67%)
George Karlaftis 49
(68%)
36
(71%)
13
(62%)
Carlos Dunlap 39
(54%)
28
(55%)
11
(52%)
Willie Gay Jr. 39
(54%)
25
(49%)
14
(67%)
Khalen Saunders 30
(42%)
23
(45%)
7
(33%)
Derrick Nnadi 29
(40%)
17
(33%)
12
(57%)
Malik Herring 25
(35%)
19
(37%)
6
(29%)
Bryan Cook 23
(32%)
20
(39%)
3
(14%)
Darius Harris 17
(24%)
13
(25%)
4
(19%)
Leo Chenal 16
(22%)
6
(12%)
10
(48%)
Taylor Stallworth 13
(18%)
10
(20%)
3
(14%)
Chris Lammons 11
(15%)
9
(18%)
2
(10%)
Dicaprio Bootle 10
(14%)
9
(18%)
1
(5%)
Deon Bush 9
(13%)
7
(14%)
2
(10%)

Special Teams

Special Teams Snaps
Total 28
(100%)
Leo Chenal 21
(75%)
Chris Lammons 21
(75%)
Marcus Kemp 21
(75%)
Deon Bush 20
(71%)
Jack Cochrane 16
(57%)
Noah Gray 16
(57%)
Michael Burton 15
(54%)
Bryan Cook 15
(54%)
Harrison Butker 14
(50%)
Isiah Pacheco 13
(46%)
Jody Fortson 8
(29%)
Jerick McKinnon 8
(29%)
Tommy Townsend 8
(29%)
Joshua Williams 8
(29%)
James Winchester 8
(29%)
Nick Allegretti 7
(25%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 7
(25%)
Geron Christian 7
(25%)
Creed Humphrey 7
(25%)
Trey Smith 7
(25%)
Prince Tega Wanogho 7
(25%)
Andrew Wylie 7
(25%)
Dicaprio Bootle 7
(25%)
Darius Harris 6
(21%)
Justin Reid 6
(21%)
Nick Bolton 5
(18%)
George Karlaftis 5
(18%)
Derrick Nnadi 5
(18%)
Khalen Saunders 5
(18%)
Malik Herring 4
(14%)
Mecole Hardman 1
(4%)
Skyy Moore 1
(4%)

All Snaps

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 58
(100%)
72
(100%)
28
(100%)
158
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 6
(10%)
0
(0%)
7
(25%)
13
(8%)
Nick Bolton 0
(0%)
62
(86%)
5
(18%)
67
(42%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 52
(90%)
0
(0%)
7
(25%)
59
(37%)
Michael Burton 6
(10%)
0
(0%)
15
(54%)
21
(13%)
Deon Bush 0
(0%)
9
(13%)
20
(71%)
29
(18%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
14
(50%)
14
(9%)
Leo Chenal 0
(0%)
16
(22%)
21
(75%)
37
(23%)
Geron Christian 6
(10%)
0
(0%)
7
(25%)
13
(8%)
Frank Clark 0
(0%)
49
(68%)
0
(0%)
49
(31%)
Jack Cochrane 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
16
(57%)
16
(10%)
Bryan Cook 0
(0%)
23
(32%)
15
(54%)
38
(24%)
Carlos Dunlap 0
(0%)
39
(54%)
0
(0%)
39
(25%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 17
(29%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
17
(11%)
Jody Fortson 19
(33%)
0
(0%)
8
(29%)
27
(17%)
Willie Gay Jr. 0
(0%)
39
(54%)
0
(0%)
39
(25%)
Noah Gray 33
(57%)
0
(0%)
16
(57%)
49
(31%)
Mecole Hardman 36
(62%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)
37
(23%)
Darius Harris 0
(0%)
17
(24%)
6
(21%)
23
(15%)
Chad Henne 6
(10%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
6
(4%)
Malik Herring 0
(0%)
25
(35%)
4
(14%)
29
(18%)
Creed Humphrey 52
(90%)
0
(0%)
7
(25%)
59
(37%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
53
(74%)
0
(0%)
53
(34%)
George Karlaftis 0
(0%)
49
(68%)
5
(18%)
54
(34%)
Travis Kelce 45
(78%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
45
(28%)
Chris Lammons 0
(0%)
11
(15%)
21
(75%)
32
(20%)
Patrick Mahomes 52
(90%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
52
(33%)
Jerick McKinnon 23
(40%)
0
(0%)
8
(29%)
31
(20%)
Skyy Moore 13
(22%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)
14
(9%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
29
(40%)
5
(18%)
34
(22%)
Isiah Pacheco 18
(31%)
0
(0%)
13
(46%)
31
(20%)
Justin Reid 0
(0%)
64
(89%)
6
(21%)
70
(44%)
Khalen Saunders 0
(0%)
30
(42%)
5
(18%)
35
(22%)
Trey Smith 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
7
(25%)
65
(41%)
JuJu Smith-Schuster 33
(57%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
33
(21%)
L'Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
62
(86%)
0
(0%)
62
(39%)
Taylor Stallworth 0
(0%)
13
(18%)
0
(0%)
13
(8%)
Juan Thornhill 0
(0%)
72
(100%)
0
(0%)
72
(46%)
Joe Thuney 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
58
(37%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
8
(29%)
8
(5%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 32
(55%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
32
(20%)
Prince Tega Wanogho 6
(10%)
0
(0%)
7
(25%)
13
(8%)
Jaylen Watson 0
(0%)
64
(89%)
0
(0%)
64
(41%)
Justin Watson 9
(16%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(6%)
Joshua Williams 0
(0%)
56
(78%)
8
(29%)
64
(41%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
8
(29%)
8
(5%)
Andrew Wylie 52
(90%)
0
(0%)
7
(25%)
59
(37%)
Dicaprio Bootle 0
(0%)
10
(14%)
7
(25%)
17
(11%)
Marcus Kemp 6
(10%)
0
(0%)
21
(75%)
27
(17%)

Editor’s Note: Arrowhead Pride obtains snap count data from the NFL’s game stats and information system, which allows us to break out snap counts by run or pass on offensive and defensive plays. Because GSIS data ignores plays that were nullified by penalties, total offensive and defensive snap counts will vary from other sources, which get their data from NFL Gamebooks

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