Five Kansas City Chiefs standouts from preseason opener at San Francisco

Sam McDowell
The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon (1) eludes a tackle by San Francisco 49ers defensive back Marcell Harris (36) on Saturday at Levi's Stadium.

One quarter?

More like one drive.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had a particularly light workload in the preseason opener, throwing only two passes before giving way to his backups, a line of passers that began with Chad Henne.

Coach Andy Reid said this past week he intended to play his starters through the first quarter. Although that didn't actually apply to Mahomes, the rest of the first-team players rolled through the quarter (with the exception of those battling injuries, no matter how major or minor, who were held out).

Among those who did play more than a few snaps in the Chiefs' 19-16 win in San Francisco, here are five (and more) who stood out:

1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB

We're pointing out the starting running back but bringing the starting offensive line along for the ride.

The best glimpse of the revamped offensive line — five new starters! — came on the first snap of the game. Rookies Trey Smith and Lucas Niang cleared out a running lane for Edwards-Helaire to scoot 10 yards up the gut.

Later in the first quarter, Edwards-Helaire converted a third-and-2 rush for a first down — a glaring hole in the Chiefs' offense a year ago.

Darrel Williams has been garnering a lot of reps with the first-team offense in training camp, but Edwards-Helaire served as the clear-cut workhorse on the first two drives. Edwards-Helaire finished with four carries for 16 yards and also caught one pass for 5 yards.

2. Everyone on the defensive line

OK, we're cheating only two sections into this, but you'll have to excuse us for not singling out just one player. The Chiefs were just dominant at the line of scrimmage against the 49ers' offensive line. They produced five sacks — two from Tim Ward and one each from Omari Cobb, Tershawn Wharton and Chris Jones — while playing without Frank Clark (hamstring).

Cobb, a linebacker who spent last year on the team's practice squad, had four tackles. Ward flashed speed on the edge.

Those four dominated the stat sheet, but others on the defensive line had good nights, too — including Khalen Saunders, whose action forced 49ers quarterback Trey Lance into Cobb's waiting arms.

Jones didn't have much to say in his few snaps on the edge, but he moved inside some, and his sack came from the defensive tackle spot.

3. Jerick McKinnon, RB

A runner. A receiver. And a special teams tackler?

McKinnon did a bit of everything in his first game in a Chiefs uniform — and it's likely he'll see a lot more of them. McKinnon has been locked in as the third running back on the depth chart, even running occasionally with the first-stringers in training camp.

He joined the Chiefs as a free agent this offseason, thought to be a reliable option as a third-down back with his receiving pedigree. That showed up, but so did his other traits. He had 2 catches for 21 yards and three rushes for 19 yards. And perhaps his most notable play came on special teams, an open-field tackle.

4. Daurice Fountain, WR

Look, given the Chiefs' depth at wide receiver, Fountain has an uphill battle to make the initial 53-man roster.

But no one has told him that.

He has quietly put together a solid training camp, and that translated into the first preseason game. He had four catches for 38 yards, both of which led the team. He was also blatantly held in a one-on-one matchup that should've piled up more yardage — if only it had drawn a flag.

5. Tommy Townsend, P

Give the punter some love, man. It's certainly been a long offseason for Townsend, who had the worst game of his rookie year in the Super Bowl. But in his first kick since then, all he did was boot a punt 66 yards to the 1-yard line.

He wasn't done. On a busy night, Townsend booted the ball seven times for an average of 53.4 yards per kick — and four of those kicks landed inside the San Francisco 20-yard line.

Bonus mentions ...

Safety Armani Watts had a third-quarter interception with the 49ers in field goal range. ... Cornerback Deandre Baker showed well. ... Byron Pringle caught a first-quarter touchdown pass from Chad Henne. ... Shane Buechele led the game-winning drive and capped it with a 1-yard touchdown run — timing an RPO perfectly — with 1:14 remaining. ... Rookie cornerback Dicaprio Bootle fought like hell to secure a fumble recovery and also had a quarterback pressure.