Chiefs' expectations for QB Patrick Mahomes II in preseason opener will be minimal

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have been careful with their development of rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, so it's not a surprise that their expectations for him during Friday night's preseason opener are minimal.

Basically, Mahomes will just be asked not to mess anything up.

"Really, just to get the guys lined up the right way, do the simple things and just go out there and make plays as much as he can, but understand (not) to try to go out there and do too much," offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. "Just play within the system and if he does that, he'll be OK."

Such simple instructions follow the Chiefs' pattern of moving slowly with Mahomes. Coach Andy Reid hasn't disclosed a quarterback rotation for Friday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers. But if it goes as it has for every training camp practice so far, Mahomes will be the third QB in the game, following starter Alex Smith and then Tyler Bray.

"Just to go in and try to be efficient when I get my opportunity and just try to move the ball," Mahomes said with regard to what he'll be looking for against the 49ers. "Put it in the playmakers' hands and let them hopefully score some touchdowns.

"Definitely, it's going to be exciting, especially playing at Arrowhead. (It's) something that you can't even dream of how much excitement will be in the stadium."

If Mahomes plays Friday night as he has during training camp, he'll produce a mix of good things and bad. He's made several impressive throws, enough that it's become obvious what led the Chiefs to trade up to get him in this year's draft.

But he's also tended to try to jam the ball into coverage, something most young quarterbacks do. At times, he hasn't seen defenders and thrown the ball directly to them.

In 2005 with the 49ers, Smith was where Mahomes is now, in many respects. Smith was the 49ers' first-round pick that year.

He started his first preseason game, against the Oakland Raiders, and completed just 3 of 9 passes.

"It wasn't pretty at all," Smith recalled. "A lot of nerves. Really anxious.

"It was just a good example, I think, of where you're at mentally as a rookie, at least for me. It carried a lot of weight, a lot of anxiety. I was starting (and had) a lot of expectations. I put a lot of pressure on myself and sometimes you're your own worst enemy. If you just go out and let your natural abilities take over and play and get out of your own way, it's easy to say that but it's hard to do sometimes. As a young player, it took me awhile to learn that, to get past that."

Smith said Mahomes would handle the situation better than he did.

"He's different than me," Smith said. "He's wired (differently). I mean that in a good way. He's just more natural, (has) a better grasp on it. I was pretty worked up and starting and (had) a lot of expectations. Just a different place, and I think that's a positive for him. I think he's in a better place so he'll be able to just go out and play."