It’s the rare time of the football season where results of a game do not matter, but in the end someone has to win. On Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium, that somebody was the visiting K.C. Chiefs who were able to walk away from their preseason opener with a 19-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
It was an interesting night for both teams to begin to see exactly what sort of talent they really have to work with heading into the 2021 season. Both teams had significant questions at key roster spots coming into the game and they were able to at least begin to get some understanding of how those positions have been upgraded and could look in real competition.
For the 49ers, the night was all about one name: Trey Lance. General manager John Lynch spent the No. 3 overall pick in the draft on the young quarterback prospect and he delivered some exciting moments, including the Niners’ first touchdown in the game with a deep strike to Trent Sheffield that went for an 80-yard touchdown to answer the Chiefs’ previous drive in which they also scored.
The Chiefs edged past the 49ers to win their preseason opener.
On the night, Lance went 5 for 14 with mixed results, but he’s a courageous signal caller with great athleticism to escape the pocket and make throws downfield. It will be interesting to see how Mike Shanahan shakes out the quarterback competition with Jimmy Garoppolo competing for starter’s reps as well.
The Chiefs were the first team on the board, and they were able to get a solid look at their offensive line in the process. The game opened with a wide lane for Clyde Edwards-Helaire to take the ball for a 10-yard carry, and the run game emphasis continued throughout the night. After an offseason in which the team completely revamped the line, it was nice to see the newest additions working together so well.
As for the Chiefs’ biggest stars, they only got a drive or so to showcase what they could do. Mahomes completed only 1 of 2 throws as the opening drive was stalled when Mecole Hardman couldn’t quite hold onto a quick strike for a first down and the Chiefs decided to halt Mahomes’ day at that point.
The Chiefs did score two touchdowns on the day, one in each half. Chad Henne, Mahomes’ primary backup, was able to find Byron Pringle for the first touchdown of the night on a five-yard pass in the end zone. In the second half, Shane Buechele put together some solid reps in his first preseason action and eventually ran in the game’s go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute to play.
On defense, the Chiefs were able to keep the Niners at bay with five timely sacks on the night and by forcing two turnovers—one interception and one fumble recovery. In the end, the Niners, who actually outgained the Chiefs offensively by quite a bit, were left with field goal attempts and missed opportunities.
The Chiefs head to the Arizona Cardinals next weekend for their second of three preseason contests.