Andy Reid probably had no clue what to expect when he decided to rest the majority of his starters against the San Diego Chargers in Week 17.
However, what played out for his playoff-bound Chiefs had to be a positive sign for the Kansas City head coach.
Led by second-string quarterback Chase Daniel, the backups proved that they could not only compete with a talented Chargers team, but they could win. If not for a Ryan Succop missed 41-yard field goal, a play in which the league admitted should not have counted due to an illegal formation on the defense, the backup Chiefs squad would have escaped San Diego with a win.
The performance of Daniel, and the other backups, was much more valuable then a win for Reid.
“I’m proud of some of the things I saw our team do yesterday, in particular the young players who were given an opportunity to play as starters,” Reid told reporters yesterday. “The depth of our football team, that’s important to have that and to have the confidence of playing those guys, in particular down the stretch here, and know that you have good players.”
In starting roles, running back Knile Davis, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, and Daniel all showed that they are capable of stepping in if called upon. All of which were brought in by first-year general manager John Dorsey.
“I think it’s a real tribute to, most of all, John Dorsey and what he has done bringing those kids in here,” Reid said. “What happened yesterday was really a tribute to his effort and his staff.”
In his first year, Dorsey took some chances, especially with aquiring Jenkins.
Jenkins, a 2012 first round pick of the 49ers, was on his way out of San Francisco. While he showed flashes in practice of a receiver that warranted a first round pick, when he got into the games he was a different player. Jenkins couldn’t get open, and was only targeted once in his rookie season. When the 2013 preseason rolled around, it was much of the same. Dorsey saw talent, and decided to take a chance. He shipped Jon Baldwin, a fellow former first round wide receiver, in a trade of two disappointing receivers.
Jenkins played well in a leading role against San Diego.
“I thought (Jenkins) played a heck of a game yesterday,” Reid said. “He blocked well, he caught the ball well, ran good solid routes and you saw his athletic ability (with the) run after the catch.”
Jenkins finished with three receptions for 67 yards, in what can be billed as a confidence booster for the second-year man out of Illinois.
Daniel’s performance was also a confidence booster for the Chiefs coaching staff. Last year, Alex Smith was the starter for a talented 49ers team, but he lost his job after suffering a concussion against the Rams in Week 9. Showing the importance of having a quality backup, Colin Kaepernick stepped in and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl Berth.
While Alex Smith has a firm hold on the starting job, Daniel’s showing against the Chargers proves that he can be the next man up.