Chiefs Make Final Call on Trent McDuffie & Willie Gay vs 49ers

Willie Gay

Getty Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. is set to return in Week 7.

The Kansas City Chiefs announced their final Week 7 roster moves on October 22, ahead of their matchup with San Francisco 49ers.

Among them were two elevations — defensive back Dicaprio Bootle and wide receiver Marcus Kemp — as well as the decision to activate linebacker Willie Gay Jr. to the 53-man roster after serving his four-game suspension that stemmed from a January arrest.

There was one expected transaction that was missing, however.

Trent McDuffie Remains on IR, Willie Gay Activated

First-round rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie was not activated by the 3 p.m. CST deadline on Saturday, meaning he will be sidelined once again in Week 7. Out since Week 1 with a hamstring injury, the Chiefs teased the possibility of their top prospect’s return against the Buffalo Bills before ending up at the same conclusion — McDuffie is not ready to take the field.

With a bye scheduled in Week 8, the Washington product should finally make his comeback the following game against the Tennessee Titans.

As for Gay, he’ll take the roster spot of the aforementioned Bootle, who was waived earlier this week. Either McDuffie or Gay was expected to slot in here and it ends up being the third-year linebacker.

Gay has registered 16 tackles (two for a loss) and two pass breakups in 2022. He should retake the role that has been filled by veteran Darius Harris in his absence, with rookie Leo Chenal retaining his job as the third linebacker of the 4-3 trio — which receives far fewer snaps.

Harris performed admirably during the four-game stretch of starts with 29 tackles over that span, as well as a sack, one pass breakup, and a fumble recovery. The Chiefs hinted that they might expand his role after Gay returns, so we’ll see if that cuts into his snap count or Chenal’s (or both).

Chiefs Week 7 Elevations

As mentioned in the open, the Chiefs will promote Bootle once again — just via the elevation process this time — as well as a long-time KC special teamer in Kemp who only re-signed with the franchise on October 3.

This will be Bootle’s final elevation of the season despite his recent 53-man activation according to USA Today’s Charles Goldman of Chiefs Wire. Kemp, on the other hand, will spend his first of three available elevations with Kansas City in 2022.

Given the lack of depth at cornerback with McDuffie and Rashad Fenton sidelined for another week, the Bootle call-up is a given. He’ll slot in behind Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams, and nickel L’Jarius Sneed as a versatile DB that knows every CB role in Steve Spagnuolo’s secondary.

The hope is that you never have to use Bootle on defense — although he did log one fourth-quarter snap against Buffalo — but the former undrafted prospect can also chip in on special teams. That’s where Kemp is expected to shine on Sunday, with over 780 ST snaps in Dave Toub’s unit since 2017.

49ers Add CB Depth in Dontae Johnson

The Niners did reveal one transactional move of their own this afternoon when they tweeted that they have activated veteran cornerback Dontae Johnson from their practice squad.

San Francisco has had a ton of injury issues at the position this season, including a Week 7 questionable tag for ex-Chiefs starter Charvarius Ward on Friday’s final practice report.

Ward is currently dealing with a groin ailment and was limited on Friday after missing two practices before that. After the cornerback’s message about Chiefs Kingdom before the week began, it would be a surprise if he didn’t even suit up on Sunday.

Johnson began his career as a fourth-round selection of the 49ers in 2014. He has spent parts of eight different campaigns with the San Francisco organization, mostly as a rotational cog, but he has also started 28 games with a full season worth of starts in 2017.

The only other two NFL franchises that Johnson appeared in a game with were the Bills and Los Angeles Chargers.

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