October 5, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald (91) rushes against Kansas City Chiefs guard Zach Fulton (73) and tackle Ryan Harris (68) during the first quarter at Levi
Those two succinct words virtually ended the hopes and dreams of fans that thought the Chiefs may come into the 2015 season with a pair of Pro Bowl-caliber offensive guards. Andy Reid essentially put the kibosh on all of that talk at the end of the Kansas City minicamp last month. So, case closed, right? Well…not so fast now.
Yes, Andy Reid said point-blank that the Chiefs weren’t making a move on him, but that was almost a month ago. Things change. And in the NFL offseason, they can change quickly and dramatically. The market for players can go cold overnight. Just the other day, Jason Pierre-Paul was staring down a big-time payday. Now his future is completely uncertain. Just a month ago, Evan Mathis was the premier free agent and sure to land a big contract right away. Now? Now he’s still unsigned with teams closing in on training camp, which means his value decreases daily. It’s a whole new market now than it was just a few weeks ago.
As for the Chiefs, their situation at right guard remains unchanged. That shouldn’t be inspiring any confidence from the fanbase, coaching staff, or front office. Throughout offseason team activities (OTAs) and minicamp, the Chiefs did not have a single player line up at right guard even two days in a row. There was a constant rotation as the coaching staff tried to figure out who the best option is. Here’s a quick recap on that…
Jeff Allen – The veteran of the group and one of the few remaining players from the Pioli regime. Allen has never lived up to his draft status, and was a long-time punching bag on Chiefs fan blogs. He showed some improvement in training camp last year, but an early injury took him out of play. Now looking at a position change while coming off an injury, he is the current favorite for the starting job. Not ideal.
Paul Fanaika – The Chiefs added the big man this offseason from Arizona. Fanaika is a mauler who struggles against quickness and speed. He also has his own problems with technique and can get beat in situations where his strength should carry him. He’s probably a journeyman at this point in his career, capable of making spot starts but not someone you want in there for a full 16 game season.
Zach Fulton – Last year’s starter, there were some high hopes for Fulton’s development in 2015. However, the fact there is still an open competition on the right side would suggest that Fulton hasn’t improved as much as the coaching staff was hoping for. The big black mark on Fulton is that he missed a block that led to Alex Smith having his spleen torn. It would be understandable if our quarterback was a little leery of Fulton being back in the starting five.
It’s not a great situation. I would love just about any of these guys as a backup, but giving them the responsibility of protecting Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles for 16+ games? No, thank you. Give me Mathis any day of the week.
Next: Could the situation have changed?