The San Francisco 49ers squeeeeeeeeeeeaked by the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon in Santa Clara, on a sweltering hot day featuring two bread and butter, meat and potatoes, lunch bucket blue collar football teams.
The Chiefs started fast with two long drives for 10 points, but the 49ers wore them out late with three straight FG drives of 9, 13, and 14 plays. Even so, the Chiefs had the ball and two minutes left to march down field for the win. But Chiefs QB Alex Smith let the air out of their balloon quickly by overthrowing TE Anthony Fasano on his second pass, and for the second straight week, Perrish Cox ended the drama with an interception.
It was an odd game in one way. There were clear and precise turning points in an otherwise seesaw slug fest, with only six total penalties, a mere two by the yellow flag challenged Niners. First, there was the phantom first down awarded to QB Colin Kaepernick that kept alive a 93 yard drive for the Niners’ lone TD on the day, instead of having to punt from deep in their own territory, trailing 10-6.
Then there was the gutsy 4th down fake punt from their own 29 yard line in the 4th quarter, executed perfectly by everybody’s favorite whipping boy Craig Dahl. Which led to the incredible, gravity-defying, body torque twistofantastico 29 yard catch by Brandon Lloyd on a Kaepernick Hail Mary heave that bailed the team out of a 3rd and ten from their own 32. That catch led to the go ahead FG.
And no Andy Reid game seems complete without some stupefying brain-fart, which came late in the 4th quarter with Phil Dawson set to attempt another reeeeeally long FG. But the Chiefs sent out 12 guys on defense and the 49ers got a first down, which allowed them to grind the clock down to the two minute warning, strip the Chiefs of all their time outs, and give Dawson a nice little chip shot FG — his 5th on the day.
Meanwhile, back in ordinary mode, the two-headed monster at tailback — Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, plowed through the Chiefs for 150 yards on 28 carries. This is how you get a 12 minute time of possession edge and keep your defense rested on a heat sapping day.
Conversely, the team continued its almost pathological inability to score TDs from the Red Zone. They converted 1 out 4 times in this game. This is how you dominate a game and TOP, yet find yourself needing a defensive stand in the fourth quarter to preserve a narrow victory. Change two of Dawson’s 5 FGs into TDs, and you’ve got a 30-17 lead at the two minute warning in the fourth quarter — a far more accurate depiction of the difference between these two teams.
One final comic interlude note. Former 49er first round pick AJ Jenkins, starting his first game in his third season, produced one run for -2 yards, and caught one pass for 3 yards, bringing his net contribution for the day to ONE yard. Time to look ahead to a life after football, AJ.