KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Quarterback Patrick Mahomes continued his record-setting start to his season with three more touchdown passes in leading the 3-0 Chiefs to a 38-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“These guys that I have at the receiver position can really get open,” Mahomes said. “It's hard for teams to have to play every single one of them, so I know if I get through my reads, there will be someone open.”
Mahomes brought his touchdown total to 13 on the season. That eclipses the record of 12 touchdown passes through the first three games of a season set by Peyton Manning in 2013. Mahomes also owns the most touchdown passes by a player in the first four games in a career since at least 1950. His 13 touchdowns in four games going back to last season bests the mark of 12 reached by Washington quarterback Mark Rypien in 1988.
Sunday's game actually belonged initially to running back Kareem Hunt, who helped the Chiefs to a quick 14-0 lead with a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs in first quarter.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs wanted to get Hunt involved early against San Francisco.
“He's a big part of this offense,” Reid said “For him to have two touchdowns is an absolute positive. I wish you could de down there to see how he handles everything. He is a beast.”
But the game quickly turned into another Mahomes show, with the second-year quarterback completing 24-of-38 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Mahomes delivered completions to nine different receivers, with tight end Travis Kelce leading the way with eight catches for 114 yards. The Chiefs piled up 35 points before halftime, tied for the fourth-most first-half points in franchise history.
“It speaks to the guys that we have,” said Mahomes, who has completed touchdown passes to nine different receivers on the season. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan holds the NFL record in a season with 13 different receivers scoring touchdowns in 2016.
“We're really deep at every single position. Knowing that I have those weapons whenever someone has to get a break – we say if you're tired get a break, because I know that I can trust the next guy coming in that he'll make a play.”
The 49ers didn't go away, however, despite trailing 35-10 at the half. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who finished 20-of-30 passing for 251 yards and two touchdowns, connected with Marquise Goodwin for an 11-yard third-quarter score. Running back Alfred Morris plunged into the end zone from 3 yards out to cut the deficit to 35-24.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he was proud of how his team battled back in second half despite the large deficit.
“I thought our guys stepped up and went through a lot of adversity thorughout that half and kept going,” Shanahan said. “They have gave us a chance to have a possibility of a win at the end.”
Garoppolo left the game on the team's final drive with a knee injury. Shanahan said the team fears Garoppolo sustained an ACL injury, which could knock him out the reminder of the season.
“Anytime you lose your starting quarterback, it's a big deal,” Shanahan said. “I feel for him personally. I know how disappointed he is.”
San Francisco missed a golden opportunity to pull within a one-score margin on that final drive. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard replaced Garoppolo facing a fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line, and completed an apparent touchdown pass on fourth down to tight end George Kittle. But officials flagged fullback Kyle Juszczyk for offensive pass interference.
A 49ers field goal cut the deficit to 38-27. Shanahan opted to kickoff deep and stop the Chiefs on defense, but Hunt grounded out 22 yards on eight carries on the final drive. A pass interference call on Ahkello Witherspoon defending Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins on third-and-11 proved pivotal in allowing the Chiefs to run out of the clock.
Hunt called the record-breaking Mahomes a competitor.
“I knew that from the day I met him,” Hunt said. “We got drafted together and said one day we would take over the Chiefs Kingdom and it was going to be our city and town.”