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49ers vs. Chiefs preseason: 6 winners, 4 losers

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The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the San Francisco 49ers, 27-17, Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium, but as we know, in the preseason, the final score really doesn’t matter.

Individual play does matter, as this roster will eventually need to be cut from 90 players to 53.

Here are some winners and losers after game one:

Winner: Alex Smith

Alex Smith came out Friday night and on his first play, threw a 32-yard pass to Tyreek Hill. That had to feel really good given to the endless “but he doesn’t throw the ball down the field” chatter we so often hear in Kansas City.

But I’ve never been a naysayer in that regard. I know Smith can throw the ball down to me. What jumped out to me was his 10-yard scramble.

The best version of Alex Smith is dual-threat Alex Smith, and he lost that edge a bit last year when he only rushed for 134 yards after setting a career high with 498 in 2015.

Smith’s speed is comparable to that of the Russell Wilsons and Cam Newtons of the world, and when opposing defenses need to be worried about that, there’s a better chance for receivers to become open.

Running Alex is the best Alex, and I hope this is a sign of things to come.

Winner: Patrick Mahomes

When a team moves up 17 spots and trades away some of its future to go and get you, I’d imagine that comes with some butterflies when you suit up for the first time.

If Patrick Mahomes did have any butterflies, he certainly didn’t show it when right out of the gate in the second quarter he threw a 41-yard bomb to Demarcus Robinson.

The play was called back for holding, but my goodness, that arm is a sight to see.

Later in the game, Mahomes improvised and connected with perhaps his favorite receiver, Marcus Kemp, for the touchdown.

In the battle for the No. 2 quarterback position, there’s no doubt Mahomes won round one Friday.

Winner: The first team defense

Sorry, San Francisco. Three-and-out. Many of the big names—Dee Ford, Justin Houston, Ron Parker and Marcus Peters—were pulled out of the game shortly after.

Winner: Ramik Wilson

The Chiefs have mixed and matched with a number of middle linebackers this training camp as they try to figure out who will play next to Derrick Johnson in the base 3-4 defense.

Friday night, Ramik Wilson, who had been getting the majority of snaps there at camp, took a big step in solidifying a starting role in the regular season.

Pretty remarkable for a guy who was released and sent to the practice squad less than a year ago.

Winner: Kareem Hunt and Kevin Pierre-Louis

Both looked very good on special teams. Kareem Hunt had a very nice open-field tackle on punt coverage and he later recovered a fumble after newcomer Kevin Pierre-Louis blocked a punt. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub had a gigantic smile on his face after the punt block.

Winner: David King, Marcus Rush and Earl Okine

When you’re trying to make a club, accumulating sacks is a very good thing. Each player had one Friday night, and it’s so good to see, especially in the cases of linebackers Marcus Rush and Earl Okine.

Rush and Okine could offer depth behind Ford and Houston, who, let’s be honest, have a track record of injury issues.

Loser: Tyler Bray

Like Smith and Mahomes, Tyler Bray had a chance to start his night with a long ball. His was a beautifully thrown 83-yard shot that connected with Chris Conley, but the play was rightfully called back due to an offensive pass interference call on Conley.

On third and six a couple plays later, Bray threw a bad ball into the hands of Rashard Robinson, ending his first drive that at its beginning seemed so promising.

With Mahomes having the night he had, this was a loss for him in the No. 2 quarterback battle.

Loser: Eric Murray

When you talk to the defensive coaches on the Chiefs, they’ll rave about how far Eric Murray has come in his transition to safety.

But late in the first quarter, Murray missed an open-field tackle on Aldrick Robinson, and he ended up gaining 63 yards.

Probably just a not-so-great night for a player who is on his way to being an asset for this Chiefs team. He continues to get important reps at training camp with Eric Berry out of the lineup.

Loser: The running backs

I hope that the individuals in the running back room rest their legs Saturday because if you know anything about running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, he will not be letting the players hear the end of it come practice time Sunday.

Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West combined for nine carries for 12 yards. Smith was the Chiefs’ leading rusher with his lone carry for 10 yards.

Ware, who is the Chiefs’ current No. 1 running back, has less to worry about that West, who is likely in a battle for No. 3 with C.J. Spiller.

Spiller finished with two carries for nine yards and had an opportunity to run back a kick.

Loser: Cairo Santos (out with a groin injury)

Sam Ficken drilled a 45-yarder and was a perfect 2-for-2 on extra points in Cairo Santos’ absence.