49ers

Three quick takeaways from 49ers' 38-27 loss to Chiefs

Three quick takeaways from 49ers' 38-27 loss to Chiefs

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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.

Jimmy Garoppolo says competition in 49ers' QBs room 'makes us all better'

Jimmy Garoppolo says competition in 49ers' QBs room 'makes us all better'

SANTA CLARA – Unlike a year ago, there is competition inside the 49ers’ quarterbacks meeting room.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s spot is set as the starter, but Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard are competing for the backup job. Wilton Speight joined the three returners when he signed as an undrafted rookie from UCLA.

“It’s a good group,” Garoppolo said. “We all help each other out, especially in-between reps. You come to the sideline and coach might be busy looking at whoever’s in there, and you can talk to each other about it, just what they saw and if you mess something up, how you can fix it, things like that.”

Mullens finished last season on an impressive eight-game run. He completed 64.2 percent of his pass attempts with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 90.9.

His 2,277 yards passing are the fourth most in NFL history for a quarterback in his first eight starts, ranking behind only Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

As well as Mullens played, his spot is not assured this year.

The 49ers still have a high opinion of C.J. Beathard, a third-round pick in 2017 who took over after Garoppolo’s injury last season. Beathard entered both of his first two seasons in the NFL as the team's unquestioned No. 2.

Beathard completed 60.4 percent of his passes last season with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions and an 81.8 passer rating. Beathard started five games – all 49ers losses – and his confidence appeared to take a beating as he absorbed one hit after and other and was sacked 18 times in 187 dropbacks.

On a short week, coach Kyle Shanahan went with Mullens against the Raiders in Week 9. Mullens had a near-perfect game and never gave Shanahan a reason to make a change back to Beathard.

[RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo braces for full practice at start of 49ers training camp]

Mullens and Beathard are expected to split the 11-on-11 practice snaps during the offseason program while Garoppolo is relegated to just 7-on-7 drills. The competition for the backup role will intensify in training camp.

“It’s a good group of guys and a very competitive group of guys, which makes us all better,” Garoppolo said.

Mike McGlicnhey explains what makes Dee Ford special to 49ers' defense

Mike McGlicnhey explains what makes Dee Ford special to 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA —Dee Ford’s first step off the line of scrimmage has been called one of the fastest in the NFL, and after only two days of practice across from him, 49ers tackle Mike McGlinchey has confirmed that to be true. 

"Dee is everything he's advertised as,” McGlinchey said. “He's in the elite class in his get-off and the ability to get into people and taking control of blocks. I felt that for the first time in the run game today -- how different he is in the timing and the fit on the edge there.”  

McGlinchey explained how much that makes a tackle have to stay on their toes. A split second too late and Ford will be making his way past the them. 

“He’s just quicker, and he’s strong as well,” McGlinchey said. “So if the timing is off, if normally I’m hitting on the second step, just a little bit later, I’m still in control of the block. With Dee, you got to be as fast as humanly possible because he’s that good at getting into you.” 

It will provide a challenge for McGlinchey and the other tackles on the offensive line to practice opposite of Ford. The challenge, however, will only make all of them that much more prepared. 

“Excited to get to work with him,” McGlinchey said. “It’s only going to make me better, the rest of our tackles better. He’s going to be special for us this year and we are certainly glad he’s on our side now.”  

McGlinchey sees how Ford will also open up things for the rest of the defensive line including DeForest Buckner, who had a career best season in 2018. When McGlinchey attended the 49ers Community’s Golden Getaway fundraiser, he had time to sit in on Robert Saleh’s coaching seminar where the defensive coordinator explained the impact that Ford would have. 

“One of his highlights was how Dee is just going to create space for people,” McGlinchey said. “I think a huge example of that was last year in Kansas City they had Chris Jones. He came away with 13 or 14 sacks last year and I think a lot of that has to do with who he was paired with on the outside.”  

[RELATED: Why 49ers' Sherman finally is feeling like his former self]
 
Jones actually finished 2018 with 15.5 sacks and has a similar build to Buckner who stands an inch taller at 6-foot-7 and 10 pounds lighter at 300.

“DeForest is as special as it gets when it comes to playing defensive line in the league,” McGlinchey said. “And now that he has someone that takes away double or triple teams, it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch those two work and rest of the D-line for sure.”