Jeff Garcia bought time in the pocket as usual and made a key scramble for a first down. But he mostly adhered to a ball-control passing attack that didn't require for him to go down the field much. His longest completion went for 18 yards, which made his efficient, 25-for-35, 175-yard day look unspectacular, particularly when it is put next to some of his recent performances. His interception on the last play of the first half was a product of a play breaking down with no time on the clock. Bottom line: A winning performance without Garcia's usual panache and flair.
Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow both rushed for touchdowns, and Fred Beasley continues to lay out opponents with crushing blocks and become more involved in short-yardage situations. Beasley converted four short-yardage situations into first downs after doing it five times the week before. Hearst had problems shaking tacklers at times, but when he did break away, he made the most of it, producing a game-high 69 yards on 15 carries. Bottom line: Another productive day for big-time backfield.
Terrell Owens had seven receptions for 51 yards and also picked up 23 yards on two rushes, including a 19-yarder that set up a touchdown. He also dropped a pass and got his hands on another that fell to the ground. Tai Streets had four catches and J.J. Stokes and Cedrick Wilson each had two as the receiving corps kept busy and kept the chains moving. But there weren't many of the big plays that have become characteristic of this unit. Bottom line: Nothing spectacular, but steady production.
Garcia was sacked three times, and that doesn't happen very often behind this unit, which had allowed the fewest sacks per play in the NFL entering the game. But this unit is getting very good at wearing down opposing defenses, and it did the same against the Chiefs, particularly at the point of impact. Bottom line: Another solid day at the office for one of NFL's best offensive lines.
This is how the Niners draw it up for their defensive line. Tackles Dana Stubblefield and Bryant Young were stout against the run, getting a little help from third tackle Jim Flanigan. And ends Andre Carter and Chike Okeafor both provided good pressure throughout the game, with each making big fourth-quarter sacks. Okeafor also ended a fourth-quarter Kansas City drive by batting away a third-down pass. Stubblefield also contributed a sack in a nice individual effort. Bottom line: Unit was very strong against a good Kansas City line and the NFL's third-ranked offense.
Julian Peterson did a fabulous job chasing around Kansas City's All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez all day, and also made some nice open-field tackles. Derek Smith had trouble getting off blocks, particularly on the Chiefs' lone touchdown, but he made a nice play in coverage when he was isolated down the sideline with Priest Holmes. Jeff Ulbrich made a few plays and this unit did a good job in containing Holmes, who produced only 56 yards of total offense. Bottom line: Peterson shines again and is showing some star quality.
Mike Rumph and Ahmed Plummer both had problems covering Eddie Kennison, who had game-high totals of eight receptions for 134 yards. But both of those cornerbacks also made some big plays to thwart Kansas City drives. Not much was seen from cornerback Jason Webster, whose name didn't appear on the post-game statistics sheet. Safety Tony Parrish had four tackles, and Ronnie Heard's contribution was two open-field tackles when he was San Francisco's last line of defense. Bottom line: Kennison found a lot of openings, but unit made plays when it had to.
The 49ers' faith in kicker Jose Cortez took another swing toward the left of center when he hit the left upright with a 46-yard attempt. That could have come back to haunt the Niners had Kansas City pushed into the end zone on any of its fourth-quarter drives. Cortez opened the scoring with a 42-yard field goal that just made it over the crossbar. The coverage units allowed a 36-yard kickoff return to Dante Hall, but otherwise contained the slippery Kansas City returner. Jimmy Williams continued to show some promise and poise returning kicks, though he only got a few chances. Jason Baker continues to look shaky as the team's punter, but he did pin Kansas City back on its 11-yard line for the Chiefs' final possession. Bottom line: Every time Cortez misses a field goal, the Niners have to be wondering if he's entering a funk like last season.
San Francisco's plan to keep the ball out of the Chiefs' hands by simply keeping its offense on the field worked very well as Niners held a huge edge in time of possession. But the Niners probably needed to strike for the end zone a little more often, and missing an opportunity to score at the end of the first half was a gaffe for which head coach Steve Mariucci took full responsibility. Defensive strategy was solid, particularly in the fourth quarter when the Niners needed their defense to win the game. Bottom line: Niners dictated tempo by taking the fireworks out of what was supposed to be an offensive shootout.