clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

5 things we learned in the Super Bowl LIV rematch between Chiefs and 49ers

It wasn’t as close as Part 1. On Sunday, Kansas City proved it is in another league.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs went on the road and steamrolled the San Francisco 49ers, thwarting their attempt to avenge their Super Bowl LIV loss. The Chiefs coasted to an easy 44-23 victory.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

1. Slow starts might be the Chiefs’ Achilles heel

NFL: OCT 23 Chiefs at 49ers Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is the NFL. You can’t keep spotting an opposing team double digits.

Kansas City is a very good team that tends to start games very badly. Sunday’s game was the third time this season that the Chiefs have spotted an opposing team 10 or more points to start the game.

The 49ers showed up ready to brawl — while the Chiefs were still trying to fasten their chin straps. By the time the Chiefs gained a first down, San Francisco had already run 14 plays for 100 yards and scored 10 points.

Against teams like the 49ers and the Raiders, the Chiefs can get away with playing this way — but if this happens in the playoffs, the season is once again going to end in disappointment.

With head coach Andy Reid scripting his opening drive for each game, there is no excuse for the team to start slowly on offense. Reid likes to defer receiving the kickoff until after halftime — which means that most of the time, Kansas City begins the game on defense. Right from the jump, the unit needs to show up ready to play.

This just wasn’t the case on Sunday.

2. When used correctly, Mecole Hardman is a dangerous weapon

Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In a lot of ways, Hardman is a below-average wide receiver. His route tree is limited — and he doesn’t seem like a player who is going to win very many 50/50 balls. He’s not going to be a reliable chain-mover or give you a high volume of receptions.

But if you can get the ball in his hands with blockers and space in front of him, he is one of the NFL’s most electric weapons.

This game was the perfect example of how the Chiefs should use Hardman. He touched the ball six times, tallying 60 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. He is one of those rare players that is difficult to describe; you can never be sure quite what to make of him. You can’t trust him on a down-by-down basis — but if you can get the ball in his hands, there is a pretty good chance he’s taking it to the house.

3. The Chiefs’ run defense is softer than a baby bunny wearing a cashmere sweater

Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Chiefs are lucky that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan went away from the ground game in this one. San Francisco started off hot, splitting carries between the newly acquired Christian McCaffrey and his teammate Jeff Wilson, rushing for 38 yards on four carries on the opening drive alone.

Kansas City had no answer for San Fransisco’s ground game. If Shanahan had stuck with the ground game, his team probably could have run for 250 yards, controlled the clock and shortened the game. We’ve seen other teams deploy this approach against the Chiefs — with varying amounts of success.

Instead, the San Francisco coaching staff decided to try to go blow-for-blow with Reid and his quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in the NFL, so one has to wonder if he wanted to prove he could beat Reid at his own game by out-scheming the Kansas City coach.

Pride is a dangerous game — and on Sunday, the 49ers paid the price.

4. Skyy Moore isn’t ready

NFL: OCT 02 Chiefs at Buccaneers Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This isn’t just because Moore fumbled another punt. It’s the thought process that went into attempting to field a punt that he had no business trying to catch. He clearly misread the distance on the kick — and was struggling with the spin that 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky put on the ball. Moore has to be able to quickly decide whether to catch the ball or let it go.

Wth Mahomes under center, it’s better to be backed up inside the 10-yard line than give the opponent the ball in the red zone. Fans have been clamoring for Moore to be more involved in this offense — but until Reid can trust his decision-making process, I don’t see it happening.

Moore still has an opportunity to carve out a larger role for himself, but he can’t have any more negative plays like this. If he continues to turn the ball over, 2022 may turn into a redshirt year for him.

5. Mahomes gives you the league’s largest margin for error

Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Chiefs need to address their slow starts as quickly as possible — but when it happens, we should be very thankful for Mahomes. The simple truth is that no other quarterback gives you as much room for error. It doesn’t matter if it’s third-and-20 and the Chiefs are down by two touchdowns. Mahomes is the only player with enough firepower to consistently get you back in the game.

We are still waiting for the game where the Kansas City offense, defense and special teams are firing on all cylinders — which means that we have not yet seen the Chiefs reach their full potential. That should be terrifying to the rest of the league.

Only the Chiefs can beat themselves — and even when they do, Mahomes is good enough to bail them out more often than not.

Imagine how much fun it would be to watch this team if just once, they could put all of the pieces together for an entire game.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Arrowhead Pride Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Kansas City Chiefs news from Arrowhead Pride