Niner Noise joined forces with Arrowhead Addict to talk all things San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs preseason as these two teams gear up to face each other tonight.
The San Francisco 49ers face off against the Kansas City Chiefs tonight from Arrowhead Stadium, and Niner Noise joined forces with fellow FanSided site, Arrowhead Addict, to discuss what’s on the table for both teams this preseason.
We were joined by Matt Conner, site expert of Arrowhead Addict, who had some interesting things to say about outside views of the Niners, as well as what’s going on in Kansas City.
Be sure to check out what I had to say over at Arrowhead Addict too.
San Francisco 49ers
NN: The majority of 49ers fans are pretty excited about the direction the team is going. But as an outsider, what’s your take on the changes San Francisco has made since last year? Do you think the team is on the ascent, and what do you think still needs to be done for the Niners to continue their rebuild?
"AA: As an insider, you’ll certainly know much more than me! From the outside looking in, the overall talent pool just looks so depleted—not just in the starting ranks on both sides but in terms of depth needed to endure the attrition of an NFL season. If I’m a Niners fan, I’m crossing my fingers that Kirk Cousins becomes available in year two of Kyle Shanahan’s tenure to accelerate the process. I’d also say that I’d want to be excited having so many picks, but a recent look at how the St. Louis Rams or Cleveland Browns ruined their own recent storehouse of draft assets shows that it’s impossible to tell until the players hit the field (and that we likely overvalue the unknown)."
NN: What’s your prognosis for the Chiefs defense this season? How good is the secondary going to be opposite Marcus Peters and Eric Berry, More importantly, how are the Chiefs going to shore up their run defense in a tough, tough AFC West?
"AA: The floor for the defense this year is very good, with a ceiling of NFL’s best. Justin Houston is healthy for the first time in a LONG while and he’s the single best player on the team. The secondary is as deep as any in the NFL with impact players and plenty of depth. Chris Jones is a future All-Pro along the line. Dee Ford has doubled his sack total every season in the NFL (he had 10 last year and was the NFL’s overall leader at the halfway point). Derrick Johnson returns from injury as well. There are simply Pro Bowl players at all levels.To shore up the run defense meant getting rid of a spent Dontari Poe and adding Bennie Logan from the Eagles. Outsiders will view this as a downgrade, but internally the belief is different. Roy Miller was also just signed, giving the Chiefs the run stuffers they’ve lacked in recent seasons. Injuries depleted the front seven in significant ways last year, but the Chiefs look healthier (knock on wood) than they have heading into a season in a long time."
NN: 49ers fans know a thing or two about quarterback Alex Smith. What kind of pressure do you think he’s under now that Kansas City has his replacement, Patrick Mahomes, in place to take over when he’s ready?
"AA: Lots of pressure. He knows it. He’s asked about it. He responds to it. Everyone is playing their given parts: Alex, the ever-professional veteran starter; Mahomes, the respectful, humble rookie; Andy Reid, the above board leader who gives only coach-speak. But you’ll remember that Alex played very well with a certain boycotted player looming over his shoulder. Given the coaches’ confidence and public support of Alex as well as his familiarity in the offense after four years, I think he’ll be just fine. Whether that’s good enough for some Chiefs fans is another question."
NN: What are some under-the-radar storylines you’re eyeballing for Kansas City this season? Are there any X-factors that are going to play into the Chiefs’ chances to win the division and/or make a deep playoff push?
"AA: *Travis Kelce has to be healthy. He’s nursing a sore knee (swelling) right now and has missed practice all week. Any loss of Kelce for a period of time will cripple this offense.*Kareem Hunt needs to be everything he seems to be. The Toledo back is a potent threat out of the backfield and the Chiefs offense was far too one-dimensional last year. *Logan, Miller and DJ have to not only be healthy but effective. The run defense, as you mentioned, was below average last year and it was tough watching Le’Veon Bell do pretty much whatever he wanted in the running game on offense. Having Houston healthy (and DJ, Allen Bailey, etc.) will make a big difference, but they have to get better here."
Be sure to give Connor a follow on Twitter — @MattConnerAA — and check out what our friends over at Arrowhead Addict are doing this upcoming season!