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The Chiefs and NFL by beat writer Terez Paylor

Five things to watch in Friday’s Chiefs-49ers preseason game

08/15/2013 11:08 AM

08/15/2013 2:17 PM

The Chiefs broke training camp in St. Joseph on Wednesday and are headed home to play their first game of the preseason at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday night against the San Francisco 49ers (7 p.m. on KCTV, Channel 5). Here are five things to watch:

• The two biggest acquisitions of the offseason, head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith, will make their home debuts. All eyes, both at Arrowhead and on television in San Francisco, will be on Smith, who will be facing the team the drafted him first overall in 2005, watched him struggle through a series of coaching changes, lead the 49ers to the 2011 NFC championship game and lose his starting job after a 6-2-1 start in 2012.

• Will Reid open up the offense just a little bit? No doubt Smith, even in a preseason game, would like to take some shots downfield in the two or three series the first unit plays, but based on what the Chiefs showed last week at New Orleans, Reid is going to keep it simple with short, safe high-percentage passes and protect Smith from the ravages of Aldon Smith, Justin Smith and other friends from the 49ers (that’s a lot of Smiths out there).

• Rookie running back Knile Davis should handle the bulk of the carries with the starting unit in place of Jamaal Charles, who is nursing a foot strain. It would be foolish, and even irresponsible, for the Chiefs to play Charles. They know what he can do; he showed his stuff last week in New Orleans. Let Davis, Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray take a beating and save Charles for a few carries next week at Pittsburgh, rest him (and most starters) against Green Bay on Aug. 29 and be ready for Jacksonville in the regular-season opener.

• The second- and third-team offensive lines need to play better so backup quarterbacks Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Ricky Stanzi, as well as the candidates for backup receiver spots, have a chance of showing what they can do. Protection was shoddy at New Orleans last week, and the quarterbacks were unable to get the ball to Donnie Avery, Devon Wylie, Jamar Newsome, Josh Bellamy and Rico Richardson, who are trying to nail down roster spots.

• The defense will get a first-hand look at San Francisco’s read option and Pistol formations — assuming 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick runs the offense that got them to the Super Bowl last season. At least two other teams on the schedule, Philadelphia in week three and Washington in December, use the league’s latest rage, so this could be a good rehearsal.

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