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Three Keys To Victory: Week Seven

The San Francisco 49ers will host Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday in what will be a rematch of Super Bowl 54. It seems like most of the defense will be back in action for the Niners this weekend as well. Here are three keys to victory against the Chiefs.

49ers Rushing Attack

The 49ers have been suffering from a bit of an identity crisis on offense. This has been heavily due to the fact that starting running back Elijah Mitchell suffered an injury in the first game of the season. While Jeff Wilson Jr. has been serviceable, they’ve missed Mitchell’s explosiveness and speed. Last week in a loss to Atlanta, the 49ers only ran the ball 16 times and three of those runs were quarterback sneaks. Garoppolo threw the ball 41 times in the contest which was only the seventh time in his career he’s had at least 40 pass attempts with the Niners.

In two of the 49ers’ three losses, they ran the ball less than 20 times. The Falcons game as previously mentioned was the most recent case and before that, it was the offensive blunder against Denver in Week Three. If the Niners want to avoid a 3-4 hole, they need to find their identity again by running the football and controlling the time of possession to limit scoring opportunities for Mahomes.

The 49ers running back depth chart got a major boost by landing superstar running back Christian McCaffrey in a blockbuster trade. It is unclear what his usage will be this Sunday, but McCaffrey participated in practice today and the understanding is that he will play this weekend. Either way, Jeff Wilson and the offensive line must play well. It also looks as if Trent Williams will return to game action, which is another boost.

Interior Defensive Line

The 49ers have one of the deepest defensive lines in the NFL and it was depleted last week against Atlanta. The pass rush was not nearly what we’re accustomed to seeing with the healthy starters up front so thankfully for the Niners, they should at least have Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam ready to go as the edge rushers. However, the interior remains a question mark entering this game.

With Arik Armstead’s status up in the air and Javon Kinlaw going on injured reserve, it is up to the backups to step up in the interior to stop the run and apply pressure up the middle. Whoever gets the most action, needs to make an impact in this game. Whether it be Hassan Ridgeway, Kentavius Street or anybody else, the interior presence must be felt.

Applying pressure to Mahomes and making sure Andy Reid can’t dial up runs up the middle to keep the chains moving is going to be instrumental in the battle for time of possession. The guys in the middle could be the key to keeping the 49ers defense off the field and winning on third down.


Mistake-Free Football

The absolute last thing the 49ers can do this Sunday is beat themselves. Taking care of the ball and reducing penalties will be crucial. The offense thus far has struggled and the margin for error at this point feels very small. Turnovers, penalties, dropped passes and missed blocking assignments is a recipe for disaster. Maximizing your opportunities on offense against a team like the Chiefs is also a form of defense.

We can expect Mahomes and the Chiefs to make great plays and put up points on just about any defense. But the point is the offense can’t leave the defense hanging in a position where they have to be nearly perfect just to squeeze out victories. This Sunday, the Niner’s offense needs to show up. a 14-point performance will probably end up in a blowout. Execution is key in any game, but this Sunday specifically has a very small margin for error and the 49ers must get out of this funk offensively.

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