Sunday not only marks the first matchup in conference play with the San Diego Chargers, but also a well-deserved homecoming for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
Smith grew up in La Mesa, Calif., about seven miles from Qualcomm Stadium. He attended Helix Charter High School where his football career took off in his junior and senior seasons, as well as his academic success.
Of 430 students in his class, Smith was ranked 13th and was the senior class president. Upon graduation, Smith was only presented with two scholarships to play beyond high school: one from his uncle, head coach of Michigan State, and one from Utah.
Under-recruited, Smith chose Utah where he would set himself on track for a Heisman Trophy as well as setting multiple records for the Utes in then head coach Urban Meyer's spread-option offense.
In the running for the Heisman, Smith reunited with former high school teammate- and now San Francisco 49ers running back- Reggie Bush. It was the first time in Heisman history.
On top of his football accomplishments, Smith completed a Bachelor's degree in economics after only two years at Utah. Two years later in 2005, Smith was the first overall pick to the 49ers and completed his unexpected and unlikely road to the top.
After his tenure in San Francisco and the NFC, Smith joined the Chiefs where he would return to San Diego to play once a year as part of the AFC West.
But returning to San Diego to play has never been a distraction for Smith.
"It's been like 13, 14 years since I've lived in San Diego," Smith said. "Obviously my family is there, I played a couple high school games there, played college games there so it's always interesting going back and playing in that stadium. But no, I guess I played there so much, it's not really a problem."
- In four career games vs. the Chargers, QB Alex Smith has thrown six touchdowns with an average of 223.5 yards per game. Smith has completed 84 passes out of 126 attempts, racking up 894 yards on his way to a 93.2 percent quarterback rating.
- LB Justin Houston has compiled 29 tackles (24 solo), 5.0 sacks for a loss of 29 yards, four quarterback hurries, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble and two passes defended in seven games against the Chargers.
- Houston's pass rushing partner in crime, LB Tamba Hali, has sacked Chargers QB Phillip Rivers 11.5 times in 18 career games against San Diego. The next highest quarterback on Hali's list is former Broncos QB Kyle Orton with 6.0 sacks.
- In five career games against the Chargers, S Eric Berry has totaled 35 tackles (32 solo) and 1.0 sack for a loss of 5 yards. Berry also has five tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries and four passes defended.
- LB Derrick Johnson has 94 tackles (79 solo), 4.0 sacks, five passes defended, two interceptions, five tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries in 16 contests against San Diego.
- Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich (2012) spent one season as the wide receivers coach with the Cardinals while Chiefs FB Anthony Sherman (2011-12) was on the roster in Arizona. Sherman played a prominent role on special teams in Arizona, where he played for San Diego special teams coordinator Kevin Spencer (2007-12), who held the same title with the Cardinals.
- Chiefs director of football administration Trip MacCracken (1999-09) was with the Cleveland Browns while Chargers wide receivers coach Fred Graves (2004) and assistant strength and conditioning coach Rick Lyle (2009-12) held the same positions in Cleveland. Lyle was eventually joined in Cleveland by Chiefs spread game analyst and special projects Brad Childress (2012), when Childress was the offensive coordinator.
- Chargers defensive line coach Don Johnson (2005-06) was the defensive line coach with the Bears while Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub (2004-12) held the same title in Chicago. Johnson followed his stint in Chicago with one season in Oakland as defensive tackles coach, where he was on the staff when Kansas City S Tyvon Branch (2008-14) was a rookie with the Raiders. Additionally, Chargers T Joe Barksdale (2011, 2012) also played for the Raiders when Chiefs DB Ron Parker (2011) and Branch were on the roster.
- Chiefs defensive line coach Tommy Brasher spent the 1990 season with the Buccaneers while Chargers strength and conditioning coach Kent Johnston (1987-91) was the strength and conditioning coach. Following his time in Tampa, Johnston went on to hold the same position with the Green Bay Packers from 1992-98, where he was with Chiefs general manager John Dorsey (1991-98, 2000-12), who was in the Green Bay front office, head coach Andy Reid (1992-98), who was the TE and OL coach and quarterbacks Coach, strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin (1995-05), who was assistant strength and conditioning coach and director of pro scouting Will Lewis (1997-99), when he was Green Bay's assistant director of pro personnel. Johnston (1999-03) left Green Bay for the same position in Seattle, where he was once again with Dorsey (1999) and Lewis (1999-11).
- San Diego linebackers coach Mike Nolan (1997-99) was the defensive coordinator in Washington while Kansas City offensive line coach Andy Heck (1999-00) was a player. Nolan then went on to become the defensive coordinator with the Jets while Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton (2000-12) was the linebackers coach, before becoming defensive coordinator, and Chiefs LB Josh Mauga (2009-13) in New York. Mauga and Sutton were joined with the Jets by Chargers assistant strength and conditioning coach Rick Lyle (2006-08), when Lyle was assistant strength and conditioning and nutrition coordinator and Chargers QB Kellen Clemens (2006-10) and Chargers RB Danny Woodhead (2009-10).
- Chiefs QB Alex Smith (2005-12) began his NFL career with Mike Nolan (2005-08) as his first head coach with the 49ers. Nolan (2010-11) went on to become defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins, where he coached Chiefs CB Sean Smith (2009-12) and defensive assistant and secondary Al Harris (2010), while Harris was a CB. Additionally, Smith was joined in the secondary with Chargers S Jimmy Wilson (2011-14) in Miami.
- Chargers running backs coach Ollie Wilson (1991-96, 2002-07) had two stints as running backs coach with the Falcons, where he was on the staff with Chiefs defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas (2002-09), when he was on the defensive coaching staff before being elevated to interim head coach in 2007 and assistant head coach and secondary from 2008-09. Wilson was also in Atlanta with Chiefs director of pro scouting Will Lewis (1995-96) when Lewis was a defensive assistant coach.
- Kansas City offensive line coach Andy Heck (2004-12) held the same title in Jacksonville, where he worked with San Diego assistant special teams coach Scott Aukerman (2011-12), where he was a defensive assistant, before moving on to assistant special teams coach in 2012.
- Chargers T King Dunlap (2009-12) and ILB Joe Mays (2008-09) played for the Philadelphia Eagles when Chiefs head coach Andy Reid (1999-12) served in the same role and multiple members of the Chiefs staff spent time working for the organization.
- San Diego TE David Johnson (2009-13) spent a single season alongside Chiefs DL Nick Williams (2013) when the two played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Chiefs QB Chase Daniel (2009-12) and G Ben Grubbs (2012-14) played for the Saints when Chargers CB Patrick Robinson (2010-14) spent several seasons in New Orleans.
- Kansas City WR Jeremy Maclin (2009-14) and Chargers DT Damion Square (2013) played together for a single season while with the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Chargers wide receivers coach Fred Graves began his coaching career as the tight ends and wide receivers coach at Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman State University, in Kirksville, Mo., from 1975-76. Graves went on to spend 28 seasons at Utah from 1982-2000 – during the 1990 season, Graves was the Utes' running backs coach while Chiefs spread game analyst and special projects Brad Childress was the wide receivers coach.
- Chargers defensive line coach Don Johnson played collegiately at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan.
- Chiefs strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin (1978-80) was a tight end and punter at Northwestern State while Chargers strength and conditioning coach Kent Johnston (1980) began his coaching career with as strength and conditioning coach at Northwestern State.
- Chiefs assistant defensive line coach Britt Reid (2010-12) was a student assistant from 2010-11 before becoming a graduate assistant in 2012 at Temple University, where he worked alongside Chargers assistant offensive line coach Andrew Dees (2006-10), who held numerous titles on the offensive coaching staff during his time with the Owls.
- Chargers S Darrell Stuckey (2006-09) played at the University of Kansas where he accumulated 178 tackles, 10 INT and 26 passes defended.
- San Diego FS Eric Weddle (2003-06) spent time alongside Chiefs QB Alex Smith (2002-05) and CB Sean Smith (2005-08) when the trio played for the Utah Utes.
- Kansas City CB Marcus Peters (2011-14) and San Diego CB Greg Ducre (2010-13) both played in the secondary for the Washington Huskies, where the two combined for 43 passes defended in their careers.
- Chiefs S Tyvon Branch (2004-07) and FB Anthony Sherman (2007-10) were a part of the UConn Huskies football team when Chargers RB Donald Brown (2006-08) was in the backfield and DE Kendall Reyes (2008-11) was part of the front seven.
- During their careers at Central Michigan, Chiefs T Eric Fisher (2009-12) and LB Frank Zombo (2005-09) played alongside Chargers S Jahleel Addae (2009-12).
- San Diego LS Mike Windt (2006-09) and T Tyreek Burwell (2013-14) played for Cincinnati when Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (2008-12) was on the Bearcats' roster. Kelce accumulated 59 receptions for 875 yards and 10 touchdowns in 35 games.
- Chargers G Orlando Franklin (2009-10) and Chiefs DL Allen Bailey (2007-10) played together during the 2009 and 2010 seasons when the Miami Hurricanes played in the Champs Sports Bowl and the Sun Bowl under head coach Randy Shannon.
- Kansas City FB and RB Spencer Ware (2010-12) played alongside Chargers T Joe Barksdale (2007-10) at LSU. The Tigers won the 2010 Cotton Bowl Classic against Texas A&M when the two overlapped in 2010.
- Chiefs G Ben Grubbs (2002-06) and Chargers T King Dunlap (2003-07) played together for the Auburn Tigers for several seasons.
- San Diego WR Javontee Herndon (2010-13) and Kansas City RB Knile Davis (2009-12) were a part of the Razorback offense during their careers at Arkansas.
- During his time at Illinois, Chiefs OL Jeff Allen (2008-11) played alongside Chargers DT Corey Liuget (2008-10).
- San Diego OLB Cordarro Law (2008-11) and Kansas City DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches (2011-14) spent a single season together while at Southern Miss.
- San Diego offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris got his first NFL coaching job with Kansas City from 2008-09, where he was the Chiefs assistant offensive line coach.
- Chargers quarterbacks coach Nick Sirianni (2009-12) began his NFL career as the Chiefs offensive quality control coach before being promoted to wide receivers coach in 2012.
- San Diego CB Brandon Flowers (2008-13) spent several seasons in Kansas City after being drafted in the second round (35th overall) out of Virginia Tech. Flowers played in 87 games for the Chiefs, recording 17 interceptions and returning three for a touchdown.
- San Diego ILB Joe Mays (2014) played a single season for the Kansas City Chiefs, recording 17 tackles.
- Chargers TE Sean McGrath played for the Chiefs during the 2013 season when he caught 26 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns.
- San Diego DT Damion Square was on the Kansas City roster for part of the 2014 season.
- Chiefs running backs coach Eric Bieniemy (1991-94) was a second round pick of the Chargers in the 1991 NFL Draft. Bieniemy began his NFL career spending four seasons in the San Diego backfield.
- Chargers wide receivers coach Fred Graves, CB Greg Ducre, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and WR De'Anthony Thomas are from Los Angeles, Calif. Thomas and Ducre both played for the Cougars of Crenshaw High School together.
- San Diego assistant strength and conditioning coach Rick Lyle grew up in Kansas City and was a two-time state champion in track and field at Hickman Mills High School. Lyle went on to the University of Missouri, where he was a member of the football and track and field teams.
- Chicago, Ill., is the hometown of Chargers ILB Joe Mays, Chiefs WR Jason Avant and OL Jeff Allen.
- Chiefs linebackers coach Gary Gibbs and Chargers DT Damion Square are both from Houston, Texas.
- San Diego S Darrell Stuckey is a native of Kansas City, Kan., where he played at Washington High School.
- San Diego LS Mike Windt and Kansas City FB and RB Spencer Ware are natives of Cincinnati, Ohio.