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    Kansas City Chiefs’ 44-23 Win Over San Francisco 49ers Proves the Power of Adaptation

    The Kansas City Chiefs dominated the San Francisco 49ers' top-three defense in a 44-23 win, proving the power of adaptation over rigidity.

    In a year where the defense finally seems to have the upper hand over the offense, the Kansas City Chiefs dominated the San Francisco 49ers’ top-three defense in a 44-23 win.

    The Chiefs demonstrated the value of adaptation. Other teams with high-level quarterbacks have increasingly relied on their quarterbacks to dig them out of underinvestment in the offense, but the Chiefs have been proactive in replacing losses. Without Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs saw fit to sign Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, both of whom broke 100 yards against the 49ers.

    Other Teams Lean on Their Quarterback; the Chiefs Enable Him

    Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers has seen little from his developmental rookie receivers or the Packers signings to replace Davante Adams and Lamar Jackson has been struggling to generate a connection with anyone outside of Rashod Bateman or Mark Andrews – and that’s not enough.

    That’s not entirely on the front offices of either team. The Packers have gone out and signed receivers, adding a number of new faces, experienced or otherwise, to the roster. Baltimore added two pass-catching tight ends and Demarcus Robinson. Like Smith-Schuster or Valdes-Scantling, these additions weren’t going to sell tickets.

    MORE: Buccaneers Prove They Refused To Grow in Loss to Panthers

    But the Chiefs already had a cohesive plan in place when they decided to trade Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. Their offense didn’t replace Hill so much as come up with a new plan with the players they had on hand, knowing that Valdes-Scantling’s speed doesn’t mean he can slot into Hill’s role. Instead, each player is filling a role, and the combination of those parts is producing an offense just as deadly as the one with Hill in a primary role.

    It’s not easy and requires the right pieces to succeed, but it’s a combination of finding ways to make do and executing a plan. We haven’t seen those other offenses do the same thing with the pieces they’ve added, simply hoping that playing their normal offense will allow their elite quarterbacks to make do.

    The 49ers Trade for Christian McCaffrey Seemed Impressive but Wasn’t Enough

    Head coach of the 49ers, Kyle Shanahan, has often been compared to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid when it comes to designing offenses that find ways to succeed. But his attempts at doing the same have fallen short – one reason that they decided to trade the farm for running back Christian McCaffrey.

    McCaffrey was impressive in his 49ers debut, with 62 yards from scrimmage after just one flight and one night to learn the playbook. But it should be noted that his backups in Carolina, Chuba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman, combined for 218 yards in the Panthers’ win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Current 49er Jeff Wilson and former 49er Jerick McKinnon combined for 102 yards on 11 combined touches.

    Stars win games, and it’s hard to produce an effective offense when lacking in firepower – Shanahan knows that better than anyone – but the Chiefs dismantled one of the most impressive defenses in the league after losing a top-three receiver. The 49ers gave up an entire draft class for a player that couldn’t stem the bleeding.

    Most years, this would be a statement that offense is king in the modern NFL. And maybe that’s how the year will play out. But for now, it’s an emphatic declaration that good teams make plans and great teams adapt them.

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