Chiefs, 49ers heading in opposite directions through 3 weeks
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are on an upward trajectory, their blistering start spearheaded by a young, transcendent quarterback in Patrick Mahomes who is already setting NFL records.
The San Francisco 49ers are the opposite in every way.
Not only were they soundly beaten in a 38-27 loss at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, trailing at one point by four touchdowns, they also lost their own franchise quarterback when Jimmy Garoppolo was carted off in the closing minutes with what appears to be a season-ending knee injury.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said the team will know more Monday, when Garoppolo has another round of tests in San Francisco. But he acknowledged late Sunday that the injury appears to be an ACL.
"Any time you lose your starting quarterback," Shanahan said, "that's a big deal."
The 49ers (1-2) signed Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract earlier this year after he led them to five consecutive wins to cap last season. And despite some turnover problems the first two weeks he had been pretty good, throwing a pair of touchdown passes against Kansas City.
Everything turned in the fourth quarter, though, when Garoppolo scrambled toward the sideline. His left knee buckled as he cut back, rather than step safely out of bounds, and Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson delivered a wicked shoulder-to-shoulder shot for good measure.
C.J. Beathard wound up entering the game, threw a touchdown pass that was wiped out by offensive pass interference, and never got to take another snap as the Chiefs put the game away.
His next snap will probably be the first one next week against the Chargers.
"It' definitely a blow. He's a great quarterback and obviously a great leader," said Beathard, who started five games last season before Garoppolo arrived in a trade with New England.
"Just keep these guys together. Keep leading them," he said. "We had a lot of injuries today, not just Jimmy. A lot of guys went down today. Just a matter of keeping everybody healthy next week."
Meanwhile, the Chiefs (3-0) couldn't be happier with the performance of their young quarterback.
Mahomes threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns against San Francisco, giving him 13 on the year without an interception. That broke Peyton Manning's NFL record for the first three weeks of a season.
Perhaps most impressive, though, was the way Mahomes spread the wealth. He targeted 11 different receivers, connected with eight and found three with touchdown throws.
"Pat lives for these moments," said Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley, who had one of the TDs. "I think he excels when the lights are on, and in front of big crowds. I think he's right at home. I think he's in his element. I think he's still growing into his role as the starting quarterback here, and we've just got to keep working with him and growing as well."
As the 49ers and Chiefs roll into next week, here are five takeaways from Sunday:
PENALTY PROBLEMS: The 49ers were whistled for 14 penalties for 147 yards, and that doesn't count a couple instances of off-setting flags and where they were penalized twice on the same play. That yardage total is substantial chunk of the 408 yards of total offense managed by San Francisco.
SACK ATTACK: The Chiefs only had two sacks through the first two weeks, but Justin Houston had two by himself on Sunday. Dee Ford also had a sack before leaving with a groin injury, and Allen Bailey had another to help stop San Francisco's final drive of the game.
RUN, RUN, RUN: San Francisco rallied on the legs of Matt Breida, who led the NFL in rushing coming into the game and had 90 yards on 10 carries, and Alfred Morris, who had 14 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. With uncertainty at quarterback, the 49ers' ground game will be even more important.
SPEAKING OF RUN: Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, last year's rushing champ, had his first two TD runs this season. He only gained 44 yards on 18 carries against San Francisco, but many of them came in the closing minutes, when he picked up two first downs to put the game away.
MORE INJURY NEWS: The 49ers lost cornerback Richard Sherman to a calf injury, safety Adrian Colbert to an ankle injury, linebacker Reuben Foster on a tackle and backup defensive back Tarvarius Moore to a wrist injury. Throw in a shoulder injury to safety Jaquiski Tartt that kept him on the inactive list and San Francisco has plenty of injury problems on defense.