Long Alex Smith-to-Tyreek Hill pass sets tone for Chiefs in preseason opener

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs were far from perfect in their preseason opener, but they still had much to like despite losing 27-17 to the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday night. Their starters did well and rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes II threw a touchdown pass in the third quarter.

The backups relinquished a 17-9 lead in the second half, the big play coming when rookie receiver Marcus Kemp fumbled to set up San Francisco’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

QB depth chart: Tyler Bray did himself no favors in his attempt to hold off Mahomes for the No. 2 spot. Bray threw an interception on his first drive when he had Spencer Ware open but misfired. The Chiefs didn’t score on any of their three drives under Bray, though Bray did see an 83-yard touchdown pass wiped out by a penalty. Bray finished 5-of-8 for 63 yards.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Chiefs looked ...: like they were ready for the regular season. Alex Smith guided a touchdown drive in his only possession of the game, hitting Tyreek Hill down the right sideline for 32 yards on the first play from scrimmage. The defense held the 49ers’ starters to two three-play drives, though the latter resulted in a San Francisco field goal. The 49ers had taken possession at the Kansas City 25 after Bray threw an interception.

One reason to be concerned: The Chiefs lost two big offensive plays to penalties. Having struggled in recent seasons to generate large chunk plays, Kansas City can hardly afford to lose those like Friday's 83-yard TD catch by Chris Conley, which was nullified by Conley’s pass-interference penalty, and a 41-yard pass from Mahomes to Demarcus Robinson. The Chiefs don’t have the kind of firepower that can overcome such penalties, and sure enough, they didn’t score on either of those two possessions.

That guy could start: Hill will start at wide receiver, and his catch on the first play was further validation the Chiefs did the right thing by putting him in the lineup. At training camp and again during his only drive, Hill did what No. 1 wide receivers do. He got open and made a big play.

Rookie watch: Mahomes, the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick, had a nice debut. He threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kemp in the third quarter. He was 7-of-9 for 49 yards. Otherwise, the game wasn’t notable for any of Kansas City’s six draft picks. Running back Kareem Hunt, who has played well in training camp, carried once for no gain and caught a pass for 9 yards.

Mahomes goes deep on first play: Mahomes showed his big arm on his first professional play after entering the game in the second quarter. Mahomes completed a 41-yard pass to Robinson down the right sideline, only to see it wiped out on a holding penalty by tackle Isaiah Battle. The Chiefs wound up punting on the possession, which included Mahomes’ first sack.

A new special-teams star? The Chiefs lost one of their best special-teams players when they traded D.J. Alexander to the Seattle Seahawks last month. But the player they acquired in return, Kevin Pierre-Louis, did just fine in the kicking game in his Kansas City debut. He blocked a punt to set up a Chiefs touchdown and almost had another block on the previous San Francisco kick.