11 Kansas City Chiefs Players Who Must Improve Against San Francisco 49ers
The Chiefs scored a touchdown on their opening drive, but the backups struggled, and the Saints eventually came back to defeat the Chiefs.
At Arrowhead Stadium on Friday, the Chiefs, specifically those who dealt with issues last week, have a chance to rebound.
In this slideshow, I will go over the 11 players who need to bounce back in order to help their case in making the 53-man roster.
QBs Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Ricky Stanzi
All three backup quarterbacks for the Chiefs must improve this week—if all of them are given the chance—against the 49ers after a bad showing last Friday.
After Alex Smith went seven-of-eight passing on the opening drive of the game, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Ricky Stanzi completed 14-of-29 passes combined.
If Smith goes down to an injury, Chiefs fans won’t feel comfortable with any of the three backups filling in as the new quarterback. Chiefs coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson need to see the other quarterbacks step up.
WRs Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin
Dwayne Bowe’s job is not in jeopardy, nor is Jon Baldwin’s. During last week’s opening drive with the starters, Smith distributed the ball well to four different players. But neither Bowe nor Baldwin had a pass thrown their direction last week.
The starters will see more playing time this week, and it will give Bowe and Baldwin a chance to get involved in a big way in Reid’s offense.
The Chiefs know what they have in Bowe. For the most part, Baldwin has to make some plays in the preseason in order for him to go into the regular season as a starting wide receiver.
RB Knile Davis
Knile Davis led all running backs in the SEC in rushing yards during his sophomore year. However, an injury during fall camp the following season slowed him down and prevented him from reaching his potential while prepping at Arkansas.
Can he return to that level again?
The preseason would be a good opportunity for Davis to show that since most of the defenders he will be facing will also be backups.
Davis has a lot of speed, and the Chiefs want to see him use it through the air and on the ground. He led the team last week in receptions with four, but only collected 18 yards on those catches and a total of 25 yards off nine touches.
It is likely that Davis could be the top backup behind Jamaal Charles, and the coaching staff wants to see Davis produce a little bit more in the preseason in order to feel comfortable about Davis being the top option to compliment Charles.
But Davis isn't a one-dimensional player. He almost scored a touchdown on special teams after taking a kick return back for 79 yards, which translated into a field goal for the Chiefs.
RB Cyrus Gray
Cyrus Gray, who is another candidate to fill in for Charles and get a some touches during the regular season, was very quiet after gathering six yards on four touches. Although he didn’t get much of an opportunity when the ball was in his hands, the numbers he put up on four touches is fairly low.
With the type of offense Reid is coaching, the running backs will need to be healthy and productive, since they’ll see more action in games throughout the regular season than some may expect.
TE Tony Moeaki
Tony Moeaki’s career has been derailed because of multiple injuries he has suffered. Now, Moeaki finds himself competing against Anthony Fasano and rookie Travis Kelce.
So far, Moeaki finds himself at an unfamiliar spot on the depth chart, being behind two other players.
Moeaki played in last Friday’s game against the Saints and was targeted just once. If Moeaki can make a couple of catches against the 49ers and some more in the remaining two preseason games, he’ll likely earn himself a spot on the team and possibly climb up the depth chart.
LB Nico Johnson
In his NFL debut, Nico Johnson got a feel for what it is like to play a live NFL game. Last week, he recorded two tackles after filling in for the starters.
It is uncertain how much playing time Johnson will get tonight against the 49ers. When he gets his chance, he will need to make a big impact on the field in order to try and take the starting spot at some point this season.
Johnson is a three-time national champion and would like to have it show on the field when he gets his chance to play.
CB Vince Agnew
Vince Agnew led the team in tackles with eight, but not after letting wide receivers light it up on the field. Agnew struggled the most against the Saints and allowed Preston Parker score two touchdowns in the third quarter.
Agnew had a hard time batting down Luke McCown’s passes last Friday. Tonight, he will likely get a lot of playing time when Colt McCoy takes charge of the 49ers’ offense after Colin Kaepernick takes a seat.
While Agnew did have a bad game last week, this is his chance to take a step in the right direction and help his case for making the team.
KR Tyler Shoemaker
Tyler Shoemaker is looking to make a mark in the NFL. He made a lot of noise in 2011 during his senior year at Boise State. However, he wants to earn his keep with an NFL team.
Last week, Shoemaker might have tried a little too hard when he returned a punt one yard deep inside his own end zone. Shoemaker could have taken a knee, but felt the pressure to make the highlight reel and took the ball to the seven-yard line, which cost the Chiefs 13 yards.
Mental mistakes like that will hurt Shoemaker's chances of making the team, and he could receive the pink slip very early.