No. 3: Defensive Tackle DeForest Buckner
While the 49ers can pin hopes for winning on controlling the game clock, their defense will ultimately be asked to step up and make a number of plays throughout the game.
Getting linebacker Reuben Foster back from his two-game suspension is a huge boon for coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense. San Francisco has missed Foster up the middle. That said, Saleh’s best defender, by far, has been defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
Buckner has already surpassed his 2017 sack totals, picking up another in Week 2 to boast 3.5 on the season.
Patrick Mahomes has yet to show struggles with passing under pressure, and the Chiefs have allowed just two sacks on the season.
Still, Buckner is the Niners’ best disruptor on defense, and few are the quarterbacks who enjoy middle-of-the-formation pass-rushing pressure.
One of the matchups Buckner and the 49ers defense would like to exploit is against Chiefs right guard Cameron Erving, who is arguably the weakest link up front along K.C.’s offensive line.
Let Buckner take over this game, much how now-Chicago Bears EDGE Khalil Mack has done in Weeks 1 and 2.