49ers Week 5 primer: The Alex Smith Bowl

The San Francisco 49ers will welcome back their ex-quarterback when Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs come to Levi’s Stadium for a Week 5 showdown.

San Francisco has to cut out the mistakes and sloppy play that continues to plague them early on, and begin to look like the dominant 49ers team we’re accustomed to seeing under Jim Harbaugh.

It won’t be an easy task as the Chiefs come in winners of two in a row, including a 41-14 rout of the New England Patriots in week 4.

Recent History

The 49ers and Chiefs have never met during the Harbaugh era, so you’d have to go back to the Mike Singletary days to find the last time these two franchises locked horns.

The result was one-sided as Kansas City accumulated 447 total yards in a 31-10 romp of the Niners in Week 3 of 2010. Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combined for 192 yards on the ground, and Matt Cassel threw three touchdown passes.

It was so bad for the 49ers, someone named Dominique Zeigler was the team’s leading wide receiver with 38 yards. Frank Gore did add 109 of his own through the air, but only managed 43 rushing yards on 15 carries.

It was the third straight game the 49ers would lose to open 2010, and wouldn’t win until week 6 en route to a 6-10 finish. For the Chiefs, they managed to win 10 games and earn a Wild Card birth, only to be beaten soundly by the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, 30-7.

Players to watch

The 49ers were finally able to get some pressure on the quarterback in Week 4, but need to be more consistent in that department. One player who needs to step up is outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. After having a career year in 2013, Brooks is struggling so far this season.

Brooks hasn’t recorded a single quarterback pressure in the last three games (74 snaps), and only has two in 97 pass rushes all season. He has recorded one sack.

For the Chiefs, Smith will be front and center in Week 5, as he returns to San Francisco for the first time since being traded after 2012. Smith has played well in Kansas City, making his first Pro Bowl last year. In just over a season with the team, he’s 13-6 as a starter and has thrown 30 touchdown passes to only 10 interceptions.

Smith has been the calming, steady force the Chiefs needed, and rarely makes big mistakes. His play at quarterback is a big reason why Kansas City has won 13 of their last 19 regular season games.

Game Changing Factor

Other than Charles, the Chiefs don’t have the firepower on offense that will make big plays. The passing game, while consistent and safe, relies on short passes to move the chains. They currently rank 25th in the league with 10.6 yards per completion, and finished 31st last season (10.7 per completion).

Led by Patrick Willis in the middle, the 49ers are a disciplined defense that tackles well. They should be able to sniff out the short completions, and keep the damage minimal. As long as they’re not put in bad situations, the 49ers’ defense should be able to keep the score low, allowing the offense to not have to do too much to win. 

Stats to know

Gore gained 119 yards on 24 carries in Week 4, which was the 36th time in his career he’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground. The 49ers are 29-7 in those games, proving that when Gore has the ball in his hands, good things happen.

Bottom Line

Despite a 2-2 record, the 49ers have looked dominant at times. With the game being in San Francisco, this is the week the Niners stop shooting themselves in the foot and put together a complete 60 minutes. The Chiefs will play a tough game, but won’t be able to overcome playing a good team on the road.

 Photo: Ed Zurga/AP

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a contributor to 49erswebzone.com and Ninerfans.com. He's been a guest on numerous podcasts and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders and USA TODAY.


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