KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alex Smith started Kansas City out on the right foot in the preseason opener against San Francisco but little else when the Chief’s way in the 49ers 27-17 comeback win at Arrowhead Stadium.
“I thought the ones were on top of their game,” head coach Andy Reid said. “I was very happy with them.”
Smith delivered a quick start, marching his team downfield on an eight-play, 75-yard drive in his only series. A 32-yard connection to Tyreek Hill down the right sideline set the Chiefs up on the game’s opening play. Running back Spencer Ware finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
The Chiefs ranked 30th in the league a year in red zone touchdown percentage at just 45.5 percent. Center Mitch Morse said getting touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone is a focus for the new season.
“That’s something we definitely looked at in the offseason,” Morse said. “It’s nice to get game time reps at this.”
The 49ers first-team offense, conversely, struggled under starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, mustering just 3 yards of offensive in two drives. Hoyer finished just 1-of-4 passing for 3 yards.
Veteran quarterback Matt Barkley, however, found more success. He led two scoring drives ending in field goals to put San Francisco up 9-7 at halftime. Barkley finished 10-of-17 for 168 yards.
Rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped jumpstart the Chiefs offensive in the second half, leading a short six-play, 36-yard drive ending with a Sam Ficken field goal with 10:30 remaining in the third quarter to put the Chiefs up 10-7.
Following a blocked punt by Chiefs linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, Mahomes connected with Kemp on a 1-yard touchdown pass making it 17-9. Mahomes finished 7-of-9 with 49 yards and a touchdown.
Mahomes scrambled to his right on the play, looking to run the ball to the goal line himself before finding an open Kemp in the end zone.
Reid said Mahomes improvised the play on the fly.
“They showed blitz man, then they peeled the ends on the primary against man on the back,” Reid said. “And then he just kind of moved around and made it up. That was him. It wasn’t quite the way it was drawn up.”
San Francisco then rallied in the fourth quarter behind rookie quarterback C.J. Bethard. Chiefs defensive back Trevon Hartfield fell down in coverage against wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, surrendering a 46-yard touchdown catch. Another Bethard-to-Bourne pass on the two-point conversion tied the game at 17-17.
San Francisco linebacker Austin Calitro forced a fumble in the fourth quarter setting up the game-winning touchdown drive the 49ers.
Calitro, signed just four days ago following Malcolm Smith’s season-ending torn pectoral muscle, delivered a hit on Chiefs rookie receiver Marcus Kemp to force a turnover with 13:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. Defensive back Don Jones recovered the loose ball.
Beathard led a five-play, 23-yard drive following the turnover, finding fullback Tyler McCloskey for a 2-yard touchdown pass to put the 49ers up 24-17. The rookie quarterback finished his professional debut 6-of-10 passing for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Penalties marred much of the game with the two teams combining for 28 flags for 199 penalty yards.
Flags erased two big offensive plays for the Chiefs. Backup quarterback Tyler Bray connected with receiver Chris Conley for an 83-yard touchdown. Offensive pass interference on Conley negated the play.
Mahomes also fired deep on his first NFL play, finding receiver Demarcus Robinson for 41 yards. A holding penalty on backup tackle Isaiah Battle washed away the big gain.