Also like in the play of Byron Pringle, the recipient of the ensuing 5-yard touchdown pass from reserve quarterback Chad Henne. The play was relatively routine, as was his unflappable 5-yard reception across the middle.
But each also was affirmation of something Pringle has demonstrated repeatedly over the last two seasons of limited offensive snaps while excelling on special teams, including a 102-yard kickoff return last season against Denver.
He has been extremely dependable, even downright clutch, virtually every time the Chiefs look his way.
And while his stats (25 receptions for 330 yards and two touchdowns) have been eclipsed by Mecole Hardman (67 for 1,098 and 10 touchdowns) and Demarcus Robinson (77/915/7) the last two years, that’s also a function of far less playing time.
2) Might the Chiefs’ offense offer up more weapons? A first look was had of running back Jerick McKinnon, who arrived in Kansas City after injuries dismantled his potential over the past three years. McKinnon looked good and fresh as he tallied three carries for 19 yards and two catches for 21 yards. If the Chiefs are to cash in on a healthy McKinnon, what a boon it would be with Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Clyde Edwards-Helaire already daunting for defenses. Wide receiver Byron Pringle, who got three starts a season ago for K.C., hauled in a first-quarter score and also portends to contribute. The Patrick Mahomes-led offense has potential beyond its established stars.
And when I asked him about 49ers’ rookie quarterback Trey Lance after Saturday’s preseason opener, he beamed.
“You’re in good hands,” Reid said of Lance.
Trust me, the quotes don’t do Reid’s smile justice.
“He’s a good player,” Reid continued. “He looked poised and composed — and he had a nice play on that firecracker there.”
To put it bluntly: Fountain’s work is cut out for him as he attempts to make the roster with the Chiefs. Performing well in the preseason is a necessity, especially considering how talented the group ahead of him is. Luckily, thanks to preparation and the aforementioned opportunity meeting at the same time, he cashed in during preseason Week 1.
“I just really went into the game today just saying, ‘I’ve got to take advantage of my reps,’” Fountain said. “Coach Reid, Joe and everybody else, they’ve been doing a really good job of helping me prepare and get ready for these preseason games just to get an opportunity to go out and showcase my skill.”
On a play that would have looked perfectly normal to anyone who hadn’t read the new rule, 49ers offensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi was attempting to block Chiefs safety Will Parks on an outside run. Parks went low in an attempt to avoid Kaufusi and make the tackle, and because Parks hit Kaufusi low, Parks was flagged for an illegal low block, a 15-yard penalty.
Former NFL player Tim Ryan, calling the TV broadcast of the game, noted that for a smaller defensive back trying to take on a bigger offensive lineman, making it illegal to go low makes it incredibly difficult to beat the block.
“This is gonna change the perimeter run game and the screen game,” Ryan said. “Last year that wasn’t a penalty. This year it is. . . . Get out of the way or get knocked out.”
Kay Adams was the sidline reporter for Saturday’s preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. With the starters done and most of the game remaining, Adams caught up wtih Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones on the sidelines. Earlier this week there was a story on ESPN about Jones taking up yoga in the offseason. Via ESPN:
“I can do some positions I never thought I could do,” Jones said. “It was fun. I usually do Pilates during the offseason, but I started a little earlier this year for my flexibility. Bending on the edge is a little different than taking the turn [inside] so I wanted to be a little more flexible.”
Being a host on Good Morning Football five mornings a week, Adams understands the need to create content at all times. Especially during preseason football games. So she made Jones show her his favorite position.
WR Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
ADP: No. 105 (9.07)
Tight end Travis Kelce and wideout Tyreek Hill will likely remain the top two targets in the Kansas City Chiefs’ aerial attack, but Mecole Hardman has generated enough buzz to warrant attention in the middle of drafts.
According to The Athletic’s Nate Taylor, Hardman improved his route running and pass-catching consistency over the offseason.
Taylor also took note of Hardman’s budding rapport with quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“The chemistry and timing between Hardman and superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes is one of the biggest subplots for the Chiefs’ offense, perhaps the one that has the most impact on the unit’s continual evolution,” Taylor wrote.
While fantasy managers shouldn’t read too much into unofficial depth charts during the preseason, Hardman lists as the No. 2 wide receiver.
With wideout Sammy Watkins’ departure to the Baltimore Ravens, Hardman could take advantage of more targets. Last season, the former started in nine out of his 10 games and played at least 72 percent of the offensive snaps in eight of those outings.
In an expanded role, Hardman has a pathway to a breakout. Through two seasons, he’s averaged 16.4 yards per catch as a big-play wideout. Bet on him to top his career highs in receptions (41) and yards (560).
Around the NFL
1) The Panthers are hoping they have their franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. They might have a viable backup in P.J. Walker. The former XFL star shined in Sunday’s preseason opener versus the Colts. With Carolina’s projected starters reduced to spectators, Walker wasted no time making his mark on the competition between him and Will Grier. The 5-foot-11 dual-threat bounced around in the pocket before finding an open Terrace Marshall Jr. for a 60-yard gain on the Panthers’ first possession. He completed four of his first five throws for 94 yards but the drive stalled in the red zone, which would repeat itself a couple times. He did ensure at least one offensive trip reached the end zone. After dropping a dime between a Colts corner and safety for a long completion, Walker scrambled to his right and hit Tommy Tremble for an 8-yard score and the team’s fourth scoring drive of the half. The 26-year-old QB made his NFL debut last year in a spot start for the Panthers after spending three years on Indianapolis’ practice squad — with an impressive stint in the XFL mixed in-between. He was easily the best QB to play for Carolina on Sunday, with his legs proving to be just as valuable as his right arm.
Justin Fields looked very good, to say the least in his debut for the Bears in a competitive setting. Bears fans deserve that performance and certainly have earned their rights to overreact to it given how unstable the quarterback position has been for Chicago over the last handful of seasons. Mitchell Trubisky was thought to be the answer under center for the Bears but trading up to pick him third overall in 2017 — seven picks before the Chiefs took Mahomes — completely blew up in their faces.
“I thought they both played very well. Kinda validated what I been saying all camp that they’re even-steven,” Fangio said after the game. “Thought Drew played well. But they both were helped by the good play of our overall offense. We ran the ball well early. That sets up the play-action game. Then we run a good play pass and K.J. [Hamler] gets behind the defense, Drew made a good throw. And Teddy gets in there and he moved the team very well also. I don’t think any separation happened today in this game if anybody’s looking for it.”
Unbeaten in the preseason since 2016, the Ravens trailed the Saints more than halfway through the fourth quarter of Saturday’s matchup, before third-string QB Tyler Huntley found the end zone on a rushing touchdown. Six takeaways, including interceptions of competing New Orleans QBs Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, helped propel Baltimore’s win. According to According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, only Vince Lombardi’s 1959-1962 Packers have now won more preseason games in a row, with 19.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Mike Hughes and DeAndre Baker: We’ve been talking about the competition between these two — and Saturday night featured good performances from both. Hughes was active and physical in coverage — and it looked like he’s got juice in returns; his aggressive 40-yard kickoff return is just what Dave Toub wants to see. Baker played significant snaps on defense, nearly had a pick and generally looked the part. Maybe this is less about competition and more about two former first-round picks who will have a substantial role this season.
Tommy Townsend: The second-year punter looks like he’s determined to put his Super Bowl failures behind him. Townsend had a strong night in San Francisco, including a perfectly placed 66-yard punt in the first half.
Turk Wharton and Khalen Saunders: The first team showed that Chris Jones is still a threat on the interior — and that Jarran Reed is a force on all three downs. But it’s the depth on the defensive front that stood out the most. Wharton and Saunders played significant snaps and looked the part of a disruptive rotation. This is a tremendous development for both the team and Saunders — who might have been on the roster bubble before making his case on Saturday