The San Francisco 49ers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 38-27 on Sunday. Obviously, the big thing everyone is taking from the game is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s season-ending torn ACL. However, the game was a tale of two halves before the injury occurred. Here’s a look at the 49ers’ standouts, both good and bad, from the game at Arrowhead Stadium.
Let’s get this negative bit out of the way first. The 49ers were penalized 14 times for 147 yards. The team appeared undisciplined in many different aspects of the game but particularly along the defensive line. Multiple offsides penalties gave Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes free opportunities to take shots down the field and he connected. Most importantly, two questionable pass interference calls in the end zone, one against the defense and one against the offense, swayed the game in a big way. The Chiefs were up 7-0 early and had the ball on dthird and long when a defensive pass interference call bailed out their offense and put the ball at the 1-yard line. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk was also called for offensive pass interference when quarterback C.J. Beathard found tight end George Kittle for a score with just over 5 minutes remaining.
Matt Breida and Alfred Morris
The 49ers’ running game continued to roll as running backs Matt Breida and Alfred Morris combined for 157 yards and a score against the porous Chiefs run defense. A combination of unique playcalling and outstanding blocking allowed Breida to remain tied for the league lead in rushing through three weeks. Breida averaged 9.0 yards per carry on the day and had multiple runs of 20 or more yards. Morris was deployed in the more traditional outside zone scheme head coach Kyle Shanahan is known for and did not disappoint. Morris powered through arm tackles time and time again and was able to get the offense rolling in the second half. He was able to force his way into the end zone in the third quarter for the 49ers second touchdown of the half.
Lost in the hoopla of his injury, Jimmy Garoppolo quietly had a very solid game against the Chiefs. Though not necessarily perfect, a missed opportunity to a wide-open Pierre Garcon stands out, Garoppolo was able to keep the 49ers in the game in the second half with key throws and third down conversions. He was able to connect on 67 percent of his throws for 251 yards and a pair of scores. Shanahan was able to scheme up some incredible plays that had players running wide open on both of the touchdown plays.
A drop on the first possession of the game from George Kittle seemed rather indicative of the first half for the 49ers as a whole. His success in the second half was in direct correlation with how the team turned it around after half time. Named to PFF’s Team of the Week, Kittle caught five passes for 79 yards. His late game touchdown was wiped out by the previously mentioned OPI. Kittle was able to break tackles and convert key third downs with his aggressive running style after the catch. He remains the team’s leading receiver with now 191 yards, more than twice as many as second-place Pierre Garcon, who has 89.
Many thought that the return of linebacker Reuben Foster would solve many of the missed tackle woes. While Foster did provide an eye-popping boost in many ways, the team still often struggled to bring the ball carrier down. A jet sweep to Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins stands out as particularly bad because the 49ers missed three tackles on that one play, including Foster missing bringing Watkins down for a significant loss before it was turned into a first down run. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has to make tackling a priority quickly or this team will continue to struggle in getting off the field on third down.
Right tackle Mike McGlinchey had an up and down start to his season with a rough game against Minnesota and a solid one against Detroit. The first-round pick continued trending upwards with an outstanding game in run blocking. He was consistently able to get to the second level and open up running lanes for Breida and Morris. With Garoppolo’s injury, the offense is going to lean heavily on the run game and McGlinchey’s continued growth is going to be critical to its success.
You can follow Matt on Twitter here!
Stay tuned to 49ersHub for more great game day analysis!