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Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports


49ers vs. Chiefs: Full report-card grades from San Francisco’s Week 3 loss

Sep 23, 2018 at 3:20 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 38-27 in Week 3 -- a game dominated by Niners penalties and a plethora of injuries, including a possible season-ending knee injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.


"Adding injury to insult" might be the takeaway theme for the San Francisco 49ers, who suffered their second loss of 2018 after falling 38-27 on the road to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.

Why? Well, the Niners suffered more than a handful of significant injuries in the process. Cornerback Richard Sherman suffered a calf injury and was later seen in a walking boot. Safety Adrian Colbert suffered a hip injury, and defensive end Solomon Thomas also suffered what appeared to be a back injury.

But the biggest, of course, was what is looking like a season-ending ACL injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was hit by Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson while running along the sideline on a scramble in the fourth quarter:


Disastrous.

The injury wasn't even the final insult to San Francisco's waning chances to come from behind after giving up a massive 35-10 first-half lead to Kansas City. In relief, backup quarterback C.J. Beathard appeared to hit tight end George Kittle for a touchdown, only to see the play wiped out by a questionable pushoff penalty against fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

So, if we can, let's break down and grade the 49ers' efforts from Week 3, position by position, starting off at quarterback.

Quarterback


Before the injury, Garoppolo was 20-of-30 for 251 yards and two touchdowns, all for a passer rating of 114.7. He missed on a couple of throws, including one which sailed over the head of a wide-open wide receiver, Pierre Garçon, that would have been an easy first down.

Still, Garoppolo looked far more poised and effective, especially in the third quarter, than he did in his conservative efforts in Week 2 over the Detroit Lions.

The quarterbacking grade here is nice, but it's also not going to be significant considering the nature of Garoppolo's injury.

Grade: A-

Running Back


No. 1 running back Matt Breida had yet another strong outing, picking up 90 yards on 10 carries and also adding another 27 on three catches through the air. The NFL's leading rusher entering Week 3 now looks to be a major staple of San Francisco's offense should it be without Garoppolo.

Not to be outdone, backup running back Alfred Morris churned out 67 yards on 14 carries and added a touchdown:


Good day for this group against a suspect Chiefs defense.

Grade: A

Wide Receiver/Tight End


Kittle continued to be Garoppolo's favorite target this season, hauling in a team-leading five receptions for 79 yards. He had a drop on the 49ers' first snap from scrimmage, though, so that continues to be a bit of a problem for the second-year pro.

Also problematic has been the fact San Francisco's wide receivers have struggled to create space and get open. It was evident in Week 2 versus Detroit, and that trend continued often in K.C. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin did haul in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo on a beautifully called play by head coach Kyle Shanahan, getting the receiver wide open.

Other than that, though, the Niners receiving corps was mostly a non-factor for the contest.

Grade: D

Offensive Line


The Chiefs defensive line dominated the trench action over the first half, making the 49ers offensive line look nowhere near as sharp in the running game as it was the previous week. Left tackle Joe Staley gave up one of four sacks on Garoppolo, and right guard Mike Person was pushed back into the pocket on another, cutting off a possible escape route for Jimmy G.

San Francisco's O-line regained some composure in the second half, however, which sparked the team's 14-point third quarter.

This unit is far from perfect, but it looks to be moderately better than it was a year ago at this time.

Grade: C

Defensive Line


Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner had a quiet game, and EDGE Cassius Marsh couldn't supply anything from the outside pass rush -- a problem that has now plagued the 49ers over all three games this season.

Backup defensive tackle Sheldon Day was routinely in the Chiefs backfield, though, so that's a good sign. But he's not enough to supply Buckner with additional help.

Grade: D

Linebacker


For the first time this season, fans saw an inside linebacking tandem of Reuben Foster and Fred Warner. Promising, for sure, but today's efforts weren't without issues.

Warner was beat in coverage on more than one occasion, although it's hard to go up against a tight end like the Chiefs' Travis Kelce and do so with continued success. But the rookie did manage to lead the team in tackles (11) and also had two for a loss during the contest. Both Warner and Foster registered key pass breakups in the second half too, thwarting what was looking like a promising Kansas City offensive drive.

This developing chemistry between the two should be something to watch in coming weeks.

Grade: B

Secondary


San Francisco's defensive backfield was already banged up entering this contest, particularly with cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon hobbled by an ankle injury and safety Jaquiski Tartt out with a shoulder injury.

At one point, the Niners' secondary looked like this:


Witherspoon's second-year struggles continued during the game. He was flagged twice for defensive penalties and hasn't looked at all like the promising up-and-coming cornerback we saw his rookie year.

Aside from Sherman's key pass breakup in the end zone early, this unit was pretty bad.

Grade: F

Poor performances from a number of units didn't necessarily doom the 49ers' efforts, however. Interestingly enough, the Niners actually outgained the Chiefs 406 total yards to 384.

Falling behind early doomed the Niners' chances, though. So did a swarm of penalties -- 14 for 147 yards.

For a San Francisco team still lacking enough talent on either side of the ball, all the while going up against a red-hot Chiefs offense, it was a recipe for disaster.

Shanahan will have his hands full trying to instill more discipline among his players, which won't get any easier with Garoppolo likely out for the rest of the season. And with a road trip pending in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers and their own potent offense, it's an X-factor the 49ers will need to correct fully and completely to stand a chance.
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • Tim
    Not sure I would give Jimmy an A-. His first half was suspect and yet another slow start. Stats deceiving.
    Sep 23, 2018 at 4:37 PM
    1
  • Boston49er
    Season's over. Go RedSox!!
    Sep 23, 2018 at 4:18 PM
    0


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