The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francsico 49ers 38-27 in their home opener at Arrowhead stadium, running up a 35-10 halftime lead after scoring five touchdowns on their first five possessions of the game.
The 49ers started on offense, and went three and out after a dropped pass and a tackle for loss, and wisely punted out of bounds, putting the Chiefs in business at their own 43.
On their opening drive, the Chiefs looked more like the Chiefs of Alex Smith than Patrick Mahomes, picking up their initial first down with runs from Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill, and calling a screen pass to Spencer Ware on third and 15. That play fell just short of the down marker at the 49ers 19-yard line, and the Chiefs went for it on fourth-and-1, converting with a Mahomes run from the shotgun. A 16-yard screen pass to Anthony Sherman put the Chiefs on the doorstep, and on the next play, Hunt ran unmolested into the end zone, recording his first rushing touchdown of the season, and giving the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
On the HUNT— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) September 23, 2018
We go up 7-0 pic.twitter.com/ro8dsVQdS4
After a touchback, Matt Breida gashed the Chiefs with a 26 yard run to open the drive. and Jimmy Garoppolo hit Marquise Goodwin for a 13 yard gain. But then on third and 11, Dee Ford beat 49ers left tackle Joe Staley to sack Garoppolo, forcing a punt.
The Chiefs next drive featured the deep pass attempts the fans wanted to see, but none of them worked. The first — a potential touchdown pass to Hill — was broken up by Richard Sherman. Another one — to backup tight end Demetrius Harris — was a poor throw. But the 49ers committed three penalties on the drive that gave the Chiefs first downs — the last a pass interference penalty in the end zone, which gave the Chiefs first and goal at the 1-yard line. On the next play, Hunt scored his second rushing touchdown of the game, and the Chiefs led 14-0.
The 49ers got a quick boost to their next drive when Anthony Hitchens was flagged for pass interference while defending Kyle Juszczyk on the opening play. But penalties against the 49ers ultimately put them in third-and-16 at the 48. Like the Chiefs in the first quarter, the 49ers third down play came up just short, and they were able to convert on fourth and 1. On the next play, the Chiefs lost track of Juszczyk, who hauled in a Garoppolo pass and rambled 35 yards to the end zone, cutting the Chiefs lead to 14-7.
The Chiefs wasted no time. On the next drive, Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 25 yards on the first play, and on the next, Hill made a spectacular leaping catch to secure a 42-yard completion to put the Chiefs at the 49ers 8-yard line. Two plays later, the 49ers put pressure on Mahomes, who rolled left, then rolled right, and found Chris Conley in the end zone for his first touchdown pass of the day, extending the Chiefs lead to 21-7.
After the 49ers went three-and-out on their next possession, the Chiefs started the next drive at their own 28. Sammy Watkins gained nine yards on an end around, and then Mahomes missed a wide-open Demarcus Robinson on what certainly would have been a 61-yard touchdown pass. But after a unnecessary roughness penalty against the 49ers put the Chiefs into San Francisco territory, Kelce caught a pass good for 21 yards, and Mahomes found Demetrius Harris for a 13 yard touchdown pass. The Chiefs led 28-7, with 3:37 remaining in the half.
On the next 49ers possession, Justin Houston — for the second time this season — had a sack and strip nullified by a penalty, when Steven Nelson was penalized for a hold. But the 49ers were unable to capitalize on the lucky break, punting back to the Chiefs four plays later.
Getting the ball back at their own 32 with 2:00 remaining, the Chiefs gained 31 yards on successive receptions to Kelce and Ware — the former an amazing one-handed catch. Damien Williams got in on the action with a nine yard reception. After the teams traded penalties, Kelce and Williams each got another reception, and then from the 49ers 12-yard line, Mahomes hit Watkins for his first touchdown catch of the season — and Mahomes’ third touchdown pass of the game — pushing the Chiefs lead to 35-7.
Watkins into the end zone pic.twitter.com/L0BgSoazzS— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) September 23, 2018
It was Mahomes’ 13th touchdown pass through the first three weeks of the season, surpassing an NFL record set by Peyton Manning.
The 49ers got the ball at their own 25 with only 34 seconds remaining, and Garoppolo immediately hit Kendrick Bourne for a 26 yard gain, and then completed passes of nine, 15 and three yards to get to the Kansas City 24. The 49ers took one more shot — resulting in an incomplete pass — and settled for a 39-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to send the teams to the locker rooms with the Chiefs leading 35-10.
Starting at their own 25 in their first possession of the second half, the Chiefs worked their way to the 48 before Harris dropped a third-and-3 pass to kill the drive, forcing the first Kansas City punt of the game.
Two plays into their next drive, the 49ers got a shot in the arm when Garoppolo fumbled, recovered his own fumble, and then lateraled to Breida, who took advantage of the open field and ran for 27 yards. Suddenly the Chiefs defense was on its heels, and gave up 55 yards on three successive pass plays — the last an 11-yard touchdown pass to Goodwin to narrow the Chiefs’ advantage to 35-16, after Gould missed extra point.
The Chiefs went three-and-out on their next possession, as Hunt was dropped for a loss on the opening play. Getting the ball back on their own 23, the 49ers could also have gone three-and-out. But Dee Ford’s sack of Garoppolo on third-and-5 was wiped out by an offsides penalty on Chris Jones, and the 49ers went to work. Gaining 47 yards on four consecutive completions, Garoppolo then hit Breida for 13 yards, setting up a three yard touchdown run by Alfred Morris. After a successful two point conversion, the 49ers narrowed the Chiefs’ lead to 11, trailing 35-24.
The Chiefs went full West Coast offense in their next possession, working their way up to the 49ers 23 with a combination of runs and short passes. But on third-and-6 at the 19, the 49ers flushed Mahomes from the pocket. Mahomes managed to escape a sack, but overthrew Ware in the end zone — which forced a 37-yard Harrison Butker field goal. The Chiefs then led 38-24.
The 49ers responded with a dink-and-dunk drive of their own, marching down to the Chiefs 18, where the Chiefs held on third-and-1. The 49ers went for it on fourth-and-inches, and converted on a quarterback sneak. After Breida gained 13 yards, the Chiefs defense woke up, sacking Garoppolo on successive plays. Facing third-and-20, Garoppolo scrambled for 13 yards, but was injured when Steven Nelson hit him hard at the sideline.
Garoppolo was eventually taken to the locker room on a cart, and a postgame report says the 49ers fear Garoppolo may have suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
#49ers coach Kyle Shanahan confirms to reporters: The team fears an ACL tear for Jimmy Garoppolo. Would be season-ending. MRI tomorrow.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 23, 2018
Coming in to the game with the 49ers at first-and-goal on the Chiefs seven yard line, backup quarterback C.J. Beathard found George Kittle for an apparent touchdown. But the play was called back on a questionable offensive pass interference call made against Juszczyk, and the 49ers ultimately settled for a field goal on a drive that consumed 8:30. With 5:12 remaining, the Chiefs led 38-27.
On the next drive — after the 49ers were called for pass interference on an incomplete pass to Watkins — the 49ers started using their timeouts. But then Kareem Hunt gained 10 yards on a third-and-8 play, effectively sealing the victory at the two minute warning.
In his his start in front of the home crowd, Patrick Mahomes was 24 for 38 for 315 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, which was good for a passer rating of 115.5. He was sacked twice.
Jimmy Garoppolo completed 20 passes on 30 attempts for 251 yards against the Chiefs secondary, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and a passer rating of 114.7. The Chiefs sacked him four times.
Travis Kelce led Chiefs receivers with 114 yards on eight catches. Sammy Watkins had five for 55 yards and a touchdown, plus 20 yards of rushing on two carries. Kareem Hunt rushed for 44 yards on 18 attempts and two touchdowns. The Chiefs combined for just 77 yards rushing, but allowed the 49ers 178 yards rushing — led by Matt Breida, who had 90 yards on 10 carries.
Chris Conley was injured in the first quarter, but walked off the field under his own power, and later returned to the game.
Dee Ford left the game with a groin injury.
The Chiefs get an extra day of preparation before they go back on the road for Week 4, facing the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.