Chiefs start rookie RB Isiah Pacheco on Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. 49ers

The Chiefs are shaking up their backfield today and looking to give one of their talented rookies a bigger role.

Isiah Pacheco took first-team reps in practice this week and is expected to be the starter in Sunday’s run back against the 49ers, sources say. Pacheco will replace former first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who will continue to play a key role in the attack. Kansas City often flips back and both are expected to see significant snaps.

This is a change from previous games, however, as Rutgers’ seventh-rounder has about half the carries this season as Edwards-Helaire (59 tries compared to Edwards-Helaire’s 31). But Pacheco has averaged 4.8 yards per carry in limited time, compared to 4.3 YPC for Edwards-Helaire.

A tough, fast interior runner that runs fast, Pacheco has flashed great potential so far.

The transformation has been quick for KC, which started the year with Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon with a splash of Pacheco. Now it will probably be Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire with a dash of McKinnon.

With Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs are a successful offense with a total of six games at the center of the pack in the NFL. So backs must be able to have pass protection skill and the ability to catch from the backfield.

Pass protection is one of the places Pacheco has distinguished himself, thanks in part to the training he received at Rutgers from then-RB coach Augie Hoffmann, who was an offensive lineman for the NFL and now coaches the O-line at Rutgers. KC can trust Pacheco in protection.

What Pacheco barely showed in college was the ability to get out of the backfield, rarely go out on routes and catch just 13 passes during his season season with Rutgers. But he picked it up quickly in practice, dating back to a training camp, sources say. The 22-year-old looks like a find as the 251st overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.

It will all be on display today against the 49ers.

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