49ers vs. Chiefs Preview: Five Must Shine

Last February the San Francisco 49ers made it all the way to the Super Bowl. As they head into 2013, they have a bulls-eye on their chests. On Friday night in Kansas City, the Chiefs are primed to show off their talents. So who must step up if KC is going to win their first preseason game?

1. RB Knile Davis - With All Pro running back, Jamaal Charles, a game time decision, the Chiefs third round draft pick should get plenty of reps with the first unit. In fact, Head Coach Andy Reid, indicated he could play his starters the entire first half and Knile Davis could start Friday night.

Davis has already showed his skills on special teams in the preseason. But can he do the same thing lining up behind Chiefs Quarterback, Alex Smith, on offense.

This season the Chiefs will be led offensively by their rushing attack. And we already know what Charles can do on the field. In fact, the way he played in KC's first exhibition game, he's ready for the regular season to begin.

Injury aside the Chiefs must develop a solid back up to Charles and Davis has the skills to upgrade KC's offensive attack. And against the 49ers heralded defense, he should get plenty of reps to show off his skills.

2. WR Jon Baldwin - I'm going to make him a key every week so get used to it. He's the biggest wild card in KC's offense. After watching him in St. Joe on Tuesday, I'm convinced he can be a player for the Chiefs this season.

And why do I think that?

What struck me this week when I was watching Baldwin on the practice field, I began to have flashbacks of Chiefs Wide Receiver, Otis Taylor. No I'm not crazy. Baldwin isn't in Taylor's class at all. In fact, it's not even close. But from a physical standpoint, the way he runs routes, stands at the line of scrimmage and can stretch his body to catch the ball - they could be twins.

I have to applaud Chiefs Head Coach, Andy Reid, for sticking with Baldwin and keeping the former first round draft pick in the starting lineup. He knows a productive Baldwin can only add another weapon to KC's offense. And I maintain Baldwin has top ten talent.

On Friday night against the 49ers, Baldwin needs to make a big play - even if it's just converting a third down that extends a drive.

3. LB Justin Houston - It's a given that he's on the verge of super stardom. But against a quarterback of the caliber of the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, I'd like to see him get a sack in his two quarters of action.

It's clear that Houston is the Chiefs best all around defensive player. His pass rushing skills are a given. But he's also the most sure handed tackler on defense and has made huge strides in his pass covering skills.

But if the Chiefs defense is going to overcome it's deficiencies at defensive end this season, Houston has to be unleashed this season. He's the type of game changing playmaker KC's defense has been missing since Jared Allen departed for the Minnesota Vikings ages ago.

4. QB Tyler Bray - He may only see mop up duty in the fourth quarter but this game is critical for Bray. The Chiefs can't be satisfied with the play of back-up quarterback, Chase Daniel. He looked terrible last weekend at New Orleans.

Granted Daniel was playing behind a horrific offensive line. But in watching him in camp this week, he was having difficulties executing the short passes required to run Reid's offense.

Bray on the other hand made all the throws. And the only thing thwarting his maturity in this offense is playing with KC's top offensive unit. I know it's a lot to put on a rookie quarterback but Bray is better than Daniel.

In fact, it's not even close. Daniel has had chances in the NFL and there is a reason that he's been a back up the last four years. Had anyone felt he was a starter, he'd have been given a chance somewhere else.

Bray is going to be a starter in this league some day. For now though, he has to climb from third string to second string. And when he gets his chance Friday night, he needs to be all nails on every snap.

5. S Kendrick Lewis - With the Chiefs defense set at cornerback and one safety position, Kansas City could have the best secondary in the AFC West.

And if that's going to mature into fruition, Lewis has to play the way he did his rookie season opposite All Pro Safety, Eric Berry. The last two years, he's struggled with injuries and poor play.

He has plenty of talent and can certainly help this defense because of his pass covering and hitting abilities. I'm not sure why his playmaking abilities disappeared after his rookie season but if he can get them back, then the back end of the Chiefs defense will be rock solid.

How big is KC's Exhibition game against the 49ers ?

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