5 Burning Questions For The 49ers in Week 5

Oct 4, 2014 at 5:52 PM


The San Francisco 49ers are set to do battle on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 49ers come into the game with a 2-2 record having defeated previously unbeaten Philadelphia a week ago in a contest that saw the defense hold an Eagle offense that came in averaging over 30 points per game scoreless.

Like the 49ers, the Chiefs come into the game with a record of 2-2, having blown out the New England Patriots on Monday night. The last time these two teams matched up was during the 2010 season and the Chiefs blew out the 49ers at Arrowhead 31-10, the 49ers touchdown coming on the final play from scrimmage.

The game also will be the first start in a regular season game against the 49ers for Alex Smith. The former number 1 pick of the 49ers was traded following a 2012 season which saw him lose his starting job to Colin Kaepernick after sustaining a concussion against the St Louis Rams.

With that as a backdrop here are 5 burning questions to which the answers will be key to the outcome of the game.

1) Is Frank The Tank back? - While the majority of the attention this week has focused on the return of Alex Smith to take on the 49ers, the outcome of the game will likely be decided by how the 49ers utilize Frank Gore. Simply put, when the 49ers don't get Gore involved in the game bad things happen.

Since 2011, Gore has averaged 18.6 carries per game in 49ers victories. That number drops to only 11.6 carries in 49ers losses.

Against the Eagles last week, the 49ers were very pass heavy in the first half, but turned to the running game in the second half. The result was a come from behind victory and a return to the type of football that has made this organization successful under Jim Harbaugh.

2) Will Ian Williams play? - Ian Williams was a late addition to the 49ers injury report, showing up Friday with an ankle injury. It will be a big blow to the 49ers defense if he cannot go. Through the first four weeks Williams has shown why he beat out Glenn Dorsey a season ago for the starting nose tackle role. In addition, he has been the 49ers most consistent pass rush threat so far this season and is currently among the top five nose tackles in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus' grading system.

3) Will the 49ers be poor hosts to their old friends? - Everyone already knows that Alex Smith is returning, but Sunday will also showcase the return of 2012 first round bust A.J. Jenkins. With starting wide receiver Donnie Avery out due to sports hernia surgery all signs point to Jenkins being in the starting lineup for the Chiefs. So far this season Jenkins has four receptions for 16 yards.

4) Can the 49ers contain Jamaal Charles? - Charles is coming off a performance on Monday night which saw him average over 5 yards per carry against the New England Patriots. If the Chiefs can get Charles going early and maintain that throughout the game it could go a long way towards an upset victory.

5) Can the 49ers put the special back in special teams? - The 49ers have seen their special teams units struggle mightily over the last two weeks. They have cost the team 17 points with a blocked field goal in Arizona followed by a blocked punt that was recovered for an Eagles touchdown, followed by a punt return for a touchdown.

[i]Prediction Time:


49ers 23 Chiefs 10

Be sure to check out my Twitter feed @JackHammerNFL for analysis throughout the game.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


9 Comments

  • Brotha Tuna
    So in hindsight, they covered 1-4 just fine. On #5, our PK did a fine job, and returns were OK. Kick & punt coverages could use more work, but may continue to improve. It seems like over at Brand X that the host wondering incessantly whether the Head Coach has lost his locker room might want to shift his gaze closer to home; it reads like he's lost/losing his customer base. Always a sound business plan to antagonize your customers.
    Oct 6, 2014 at 8:36 AM
    0
  • Bayareafanatic
    One big change that should pay big dividends are the down field shots they took to Lloyd. That should open up the underneath stuff for McDonald if they chose to utilize him that way. Cox is the man. And Wilhoite is playing near Navarro level.
    Oct 6, 2014 at 8:04 AM
    0
    Response: Welcome aboard Bay. Cox has been very good.
  • mike
    Niners have to be able to pass protect, too. Can the tackles handle Tamba Hali and the other Chief DEs?
    Oct 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM
    0
  • Brotha Tuna
    Good points, Jack. Just checking in to get some familiar names on here as a possible refugee camp from Brand X.
    Oct 5, 2014 at 10:41 AM
    0
    Response: Thanks Brotha. Appreciate it.
  • Steelematic
    Did you or do you realize how our passing offenseis when it comes to "explosive" plays. We hurt ourselves, in the realm of we run 5 to 10 yard routes, hoping for yac from the reciever. We never try and take the top off the defense. We are doing this team a disservice by wasting the speed of a guy like ellington. In my opinion, we hurt ourselves when we play inside the box that our opponents give us. Its time to break that box. Give kap the opportunity to show off his best asset, that deep arm. Use the guy that can outrun his arm...
    Oct 5, 2014 at 9:46 AM
    0
    Response: I get what you're saying, but it's tough to get the ball deep if the QB isn't given the time.
  • rjpbobp
    Very interesting read on Jim H. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11625088/san-francisco-49ers-head-coach-jim-harbaugh-thrives-chaos-difficulty
    Oct 5, 2014 at 6:38 AM
    0
  • Monsterniner
    I know that our run D has been amazing the last 3 games but I´m worried about this game because Jamaal Charles is the type of RB that can hurt us because he´s big and tall like Lynch, Lacy and Murray and if we can´t stop him we´re gonna have a long day. On the other hand, the Chiefs´ passing game is average at best and right now we have one of the best SS´s of the season and the second best CB of the year according to PFF. I think that the key for our D is stopping Charles, if we can do that I´m sure that Alex won´t be a factor in the game.
    Oct 4, 2014 at 9:20 PM
    0
  • zach ameen
    I have only one question is that why Greg Roman is not fired yet?
    Oct 4, 2014 at 8:17 PM
    0
  • Razoreater
    I agree the power running game inside with Gore, but I'd like to see some play action downfield. I'd really like to see them take a shot deep to Ellington or Lloyd....
    Oct 4, 2014 at 6:16 PM
    0
    Response: They need to hit one or two for those shots to have an effect.

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