By Gabe Schapiro
This Friday, August 16 at 5pm, the San Francisco 49ers (0-1) face off against the rebuilding Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) at Arrowhead Stadium. Despite just being the preseason, this matchup comes with some intrigue. After a dismal 2-14 season last year, the Chiefs underwent a major overhaul. They brought in a new general manager, John Dorsey, and head coach, Andy Reid, who had previously spent over a decade with the Philadelphia Eagles. In addition, the Chiefs got themselves a new starting quarterback. In June these two opponents completed a trade that sent Alex Smith, who was somewhat controversially replaced last season by Colin Kaepernick, to the Chiefs for a couple of draft picks. This will be the first time Smith will be taking on his former team of seven years.
Last week in the preseason opener the 49ers lost to the Denver Broncos 10-6. As is to be expected the assumed starters saw little action, mostly just playing in one series. The first-team offense looked solid, going on a 13-play drive for a field goal in their opening possession. The second and third units have some work to do after combining for four turnovers, but that is what this time of year is all about. As will continue to be the emphasis in the coming three weeks, the preseason is all about staying healthy, settling position battles, and gearing up for the real deal on September 8.
With week 1 in the books, the competition at wide receiver seems to be more up in the air than ever. Anquan Boldin already seems to have an established chemistry with Kaepernick, which is great news moving forward, but after Boldin the depth chart looks unclear. Kyle Williams didn’t play last week as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury. Marlon Moore, Chad Hall, Kassim Osgood, and Austin Collie had solid games. AJ Jenkins, however, struggled. He saw his fair share of snaps, but was targeted just three times, and only had one reception. To make matters worse, on his one reception he promptly fumbled, accounting for one of the teams’ four turnovers. By all accounts Jenkins has the talent, but as of yet just hasn’t been able to put everything together. Keep a close eye on the receiving corp, Jenkins in particular, heading into week 2 against a lesser defense.
The competitions at free safety and cornerback continue as well, although both positions look far less muddled. At safety Craig Dahl started the game last week, but presumed starter Eric Reid had a strong debut, getting a lot of playing time and finishing with six tackles. Looking to step up for the injured cornerback Chris Culliver, the trio of Parrish Cox, Tramaine Brock, and Nnamdi Asomugha did well. The group will look to show what they’ve got against former teammate Alex Smith.
As a whole, expect to see slightly more playing time for all of the starters as everyone gets game ready for the regular season opener.