Chiefs Throttle Niners at Levi’s

The 49ers had a frustrating off-season.  Their regular season has seen few bright spots.  Today’s performance added to their list of woes.  Coming into the game they hoped to get a spark from the return of Trent Williams, Nick Bosa and Jimmy Ward.  Williams was on his heels for much of the game in pass protection until Frank Clark flat embarrassed him.  Midway thru the fourth quarter, Clark sacked Jimmy Garoppolo two plays in a row.  The second sack was a safety.  Ward spent much of his time lost in coverage.  Bosa, though he secured four tackles and a sack, struggled in run defense.


Magic Mahomes

The Chiefs offense was on fire.  They executed 20 ten yards plays.  They also executed ten 20-yard plays.  Think about that for a minute.  The Chiefs managed ten explosive plays against the vaunted Niner defense.  Though the Chiefs did not run the ball particularly well, Patrick Mahomes passed for 423 yards and three touch downs.  It is clear that one of two things happened.  Either the Chiefs confused the Niners secondary or the Niners secondary was not prepared.  Having watched every game each of these teams have played this year, I think it’s the latter.  The Chiefs offense did not suddenly change for this game.  The Niners heads just were not in it.  The tape will be an embarrassing moment tomorrow morning.  For the Niners, hopefully it’s a motivator as well.

Patrick Mahomes had a great day in San Francisco.  Though he connected with seven different receivers, his main targets were JuJu Smith-Schuster and Travis Kelce.  They were both the recipients of long bombs for big plays. Mahomes didn’t just destroy the Niners secondary with his strong arm.  He also picked the Niners apart, finding receivers who would get yards after catch.  During the second half, the Niners defense did force several 3rd down plays.  During one play in particular, it was 3rd and 20 on the 49ers 38-yard line.  Mahomes hit Jerrick McKinnon in the flat who cut up the middle of the field for a 34-yard gain.  Whether it was long bombs or yards after catch, the Chiefs offense manufactured 9 yards per play, the most yards per play against the Niners this year.  It was a tremendous performance by the Chiefs.


49ers Defense Disappeared…

The Niners performance this Sunday is one of the worst performances we have witnessed is quite some time.  It was awful for several reasons.  One, Jim Harbaugh and the team of 2012 were in attendance.  Second, this is not the way you want to greet your high-priced trade asset, Christian McCaffrey.  Third they committed numerous avoidable mistakes.

The Niners certainly missed Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw in the middle of the defense.  Emmanuel Mosley’s absence was equally felt.  Still, precious few excuses can be made for the 49er’s poor performance against the pass.  Pro-Bowl Safety Jimmy Ward should have been the captain back there.  Instead, it looked as if the secondary was lost.  When Dre-Greenlaw went down, the Chiefs really started exploiting the middle of the field, and Coach DeMeco Ryans failed to adjust and accommodate.  Mahomes and company feasted.

The result is not the only embarrassment to the Niners.  It is how the result occurred.  The Niners started this game with a bang, scoring on their first two possessions.  Their second score was set up by an outstanding interception made by Talanoa Hufanga.  Jimmy G gets a big play to Deebo Samuel, and two plays later Ray Ray McCloud reaches out and snags an off-target pass from Jimmy G for a touchdown.  Yes, it was off target, like most of Jimmy G’s passes on Sunday.  His off-target passes were a contributing factor to the loss.  Simple slant routes were routinely thrown behind the receivers.  At the end of the first half, he threw an interception into traffic, when he had Jeff Wilson Jr. wide open on a Texas route for a touchdown.  Jimmy G’s field awareness and accuracy must improve quickly for the 49ers to be competitive once again.


Avoidable Niner Mistakes

The 49ers spent much of the first half shooting themselves in the foot with numerous penalties all along the lines of scrimmage.  Yes, I said lines of scrimmage.  The offensive and defensive line performance was abysmal.  Multiple unforced errors were committed by the offensive and defensive line.  The team committed 10 penalties costing the Niners 80 yards.  Most of these penalties occurred on the lines of scrimmage.  These penalties fall on the coaches as much as the players.  The coaches must find a way to hold these players accountable for these costly mistakes.  The players must find a way to have attention to detail, or they can kiss their play-off chances goodbye.


Light at the End of the Tunnel

There were a few things the Niners accomplished that they can build on.  George Kittle was a big part of the offense, catching six balls for 98 yards and a touchdown.  Brandon Aiyuk caught seven balls for 82 yards, and Ray Ray McCloud caught all four of his targeted passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.  Christian McCaffrey (CMC) was integrated into a few packages, and you can instantly see the impact he will make on the Niners offense moving forward.  In fact, I think CMC is a better asset for the Niners than Emmanuel Sanders was a few years ago.  CMC gives Jimmy G another short-range target for him to get the ball quickly to in order to make a big play on yards after catch.  Watch in the coming weeks what Coach Shanahan dials up play wise.  Of course, it is up to Jimmy G to actually execute…

The Chiefs bounced back big from their tough loss at home against the Bills.  The 49ers can mirror this success on the road next week against the Rams.   If they do so, they will be .500 going into the bye week.  I still think this squad is a super bowl quality team.  They just need to pull their heads out of their four point of contact, get healthy and execute.  On to LA!

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