Shooting down the Chiefs

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers never got into that anticipated offensive shootout with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.They made sure of that. They made sure the Chiefs – who brought to town the NFL's third-ranked offense and second-ranked passing attack – didn't get many shots, period

"Part of our plan was to keep them by the Gatorade bottles," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said.

The Kansas City offense spent much more time next to its sideline liquid refreshments than on the field during a slippery afternoon at Candlestick Point, and that was the difference in a game that shouldn't have been as close as the final score – but was.

The Niners controlled the football and held a dominating edge in time of possession for the second consecutive week against a top-flight offense, and this time it was good enough to edge the Chiefs 17-13 before a sellout crowd of 67,881 that had to stick around until the end to make sure their hometown heroes came away with the victory.

"It's great to win," said Niners running back Garrison Hearst, the game's leading rusher with 69 yards on 15 carries. "Kansas City has one of the best offenses in the league, and we made some mistakes when we shouldn't have, but our defense was able to pull out the win for us. Any time you get a big win, it's satisfying."

It's also a win that improved the 49ers to 7-2 and increased their lead in the NFC West to three games over Arizona and defending division champion St, which hasn't lost since the Niners dropped the Rams to 0-5 with a 37-13 rout here on Oct. 6.

But the first-place Niners, now riding a three-game winning streak, weren't thinking much about the space they have created in their own division. They were thinking about surviving for another Sunday, and getting out with a hard-fought win during an afternoon in which several things failed to go their way.

The Chiefs, who were outplayed throughout the game and in most statistical categories, just keep hanging around ominously as the Niners missed opportunities to put this one away. Kansas City even had a chance to win it at the end, driving from its own 11-yard line to the San Francisco 36 in the final minutes before San Francisco's stout defense came through with its third consecutive fourth-quarter stand.

"When a team wins enough games to get to the playoffs, you win a few ugly," Mariucci said. This one certainly wasn't a thing of beauty. The Niners – with some help from the officials – mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half, coming away with no points after reaching the Kansas City 13 in the final seconds.


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