KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 49ers don't come to Arrowhead Stadium often. But when they do, it’s generally not a pleasant experience.
That held true Sunday, as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered what coach Kyle Shanahan later said is feared to be an ACL injury in a 38-27 loss to the Chiefs.
The Chiefs put on an offensive display, easily slicing through a beleaguered 49ers defense for touchdowns on all five of their first-half possessions, before the 49ers rallied in the second half. Then Garoppolo had to leave after his leg buckled before he took a big hit from Chiefs defensive back Steve Nelson on the sideline.
In their previous three trips to Kansas City, the 49ers lost by scores of 44-9 (1997), 41-0 (2006) and 31-10 (2010). This time, they lost the game and their QB.
Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ loss to the Chiefs:
Penalties, missed tackles
The 49ers’ defense was completely overmatched, as Chiefs coach Andy Reid used a variety of formations and shifts to create space for his playmakers to get to work. Rookie QB Patrick Mahomes, making his first home start, continued his hot start.
Kansas City rolled up 295 total yards in the first half, assisted greatly by a San Francisco defense that missed tackle after tackle after tackle. The 49ers’ tackling issues were apparent in the first two games of the season, too.
The 49ers also were called for nine penalties, totaling 106 yards in the first half alone.
Mahomes, who threw 10 touchdown passes without an interception in Kansas City’s first two games, completed 24 of 38 passes for 314 yards with three touchdowns and was not intercepted.
Not enough from the offense
The 49ers could have gotten off to a good start after receiving the opening kickoff, but Chiefs defensive back Eric Murray stripped tight end George Kittle after it appeared Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass would pick up an early first down.
Four of the 49ers’ first five drives ended in punts against a Chiefs defense that entered the game ranked last in the NFL.
Despite a couple of dropped passes and some open receivers that Garoppolo missed, he got things turned around statistically to put together a solid performance. Garoppolo completed 20 of 30 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions before leaving with the injury.
Garoppolo threw TD passes to fullback Kyle Juszczyk for 35 yards and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for 11 yards. Garoppolo even completed a shovel pass to Kittle for a two-point conversion, pulling the 49ers within 11 points, 35-24, late in the third quarter.
Undermanned and manhandled
Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt did not suit up for Sunday’s game because of a shoulder injury, and Antone Exum started in his place. And in the second quarter, free safety Adrian Colbert left the game with a hip injury. Rookie D.J. Reed replaced him.
The 49ers began the game with Jimmie Ward as the starter at right cornerback in place of Ahkello Witherspoon, who was hobbled with an ankle injury and has been targeted by opposing defenses.
Then, late in the second quarter, starting left cornerback Richard Sherman exited with a calf injury. He required assistance from two staff members to get to the team’s locker room at halftime.
Ward left the game in the third quarter with cramps.
Linebacker Reuben Foster, who returned from a two-game suspension, was the team leader with six tackles and caused a scare when he left the field with an injury early in the fourth quarter. But Foster sat out only one play before re-entering the game.