The Kansas City Chiefs welcome the San Francisco 49ers to Arrowhead tonight for the second game of the Andy Reid era.
Even though it’s just a preseason game, there are still plenty of intriguing story lines to discuss leading up to kickoff.
For one, will the Chiefs’ offense build upon its impressive opening drive last week against the Saints? Speaking of offense, how will Alex Smith look? Not only is this his first game as signal-caller for the Chiefs at Arrowhead, but he’ll be facing his old team.
Preseason or not, there’s a lot on the line here.
AK: So, this is only a preseason game, but it feels like it’s a lot more than that over here in Kansas City. What’s the vibe in SF heading into this game?
EM: Most Niner fans are excited for preseason games because that means it’s August with the start of the regular season just around the corner. There are a lot of interesting position battles, like at receiver and cornerback, which is making training camp and the preseason exciting. Playing against Alex Smith is making this week’s game the highlight of the preseason.
AK: Alex Smith seems to be playing it cool in regard to playing his former team. What are your thoughts on AS11 (as we call him here in Chiefs Kingdom)?
EM: Nice, you already have a nickname for Alex! He can be more than just a game-manager if has good personnel around him on the field and he’s in an offense that is tailored to his strengths. He flourished under Jim Harbaugh, so it will be interesting to see how develops and plays with the Chiefs.
AK: What’s the biggest thing you’d like to see the 49ers work on Friday night?
EM: One area is finding a No.2 receiver to start opposite Anquan Boldin. A lot of eyes will be on wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and how he plays in the game. Jenkins was a first-round draft pick in 2012, but he only appeared in three games and had zero catches last season.
With Michael Crabtree injured, the Niners offense needs one of their young receivers to step up to start as the No. 2 receiver. Many expected Jenkins to take over that role, but he has struggled so far at training camp and in the first preseason game. Don’t be surprised if you see Austin Collie starting as the No. 2 receiver on Friday.
AK: How long do you expect to see the 49ers starters in this game?
EM: Last week, most of the starters only played one series against the Denver Broncos. In the second preseason game the starters will likely be in the game for two to three series. Expect to see the Niners offensive starters on the field more than the defensive starters. With a position battle for the No. 2 receiver spot, the offense needs to see how Colin Kaepernick connects with the wide outs in live action.
AK: Thoughts on news Chiefs head coach Andy Reid? What are your expectations for his first year?
EM: Andy Reid was a good hire by the Chiefs because he has a great track record as a head coach and he is offensive-minded. Alex Smith plays better under coaches like Reid, so he should be able to continue Smith’s development that Harbaugh started.
The Chiefs have a lot of talent on the roster. With the addition of a new head coach and quarterback that have a winning track and been in the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised if KC finishes with an 8-8 record.