KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alex Smith unloaded an incomplete pass intended for another blanketed wide receiver, and then took a pop from 49ers defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie as a Chiefs drive went haywire.
It was that kind of night for Smith and the rest of the Kansas City offense.
Pressured the entire first half by the San Francisco defense, the Chiefs were unable to get much going without injured Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles. The only touchdown they scored was on a kickoff return, and that wasn't enough in a 15-13 preseason loss Friday night.
"We left a lot out there, I think. Didn't handle the pressure as well, and just some finer details here and there," Smith said. "We certainly left a lot out there."
Smith was just 7 of 16 for 62 yards against his former team, and bore very little resemblance to the calm, efficient quarterback who led the Chiefs on a touchdown drive last week at New Orleans – even going against the 49ers' backup defense most of the night.
"There were a lot of good things," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Perrish Cox had a good game. Michael Wilhoite looked very solid. Nate Stupar played well again. I thought Eric Reid did some good things. So it was a plus-plus on the defensive side again."
Indeed, the Chiefs and 49ers have plenty to take away from a preseason game that left both of their offenses in fits. Here are five things we learned from Friday night's game:
1. JAMAAL CHARLES IS ESSENTIAL: The Pro Bowl running back missed the game with a strained right foot after he accidentally stepped on a teammate during practice on Monday.
Charles worked out before the game but Chiefs coach Andy Reid decided to play it safe with Charles, who handled the ball on eight of the 14 plays the No. 1 offense was in the game last week against the Saints.
"I didn't think there was any reason to risk it," Reid said. "He's getting better each day, making progress. It's a day-to-day situation. We'll see how he is tomorrow, but it is day to day. It was a hard workout today and we'll see how he is tomorrow."
Reid refused to rule out Charles for the rest of the preseason, and Charles said, "We'll see when we start practice on Sunday how I feel."
2. THE HATCHET HAS BEEN BURIED: Smith and Harbaugh met on the field for a few minutes before kickoff, and seemingly put their complex past behind them during an amicable chat.
Harbaugh helped resurrect Smith's career in San Francisco, only to bench Smith when he got hurt last season. Colin Kaepernick wound up leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl, and that allowed them to trade Smith to the Chiefs for a pair of draft picks during the offseason.
"The first time I ever played against my former team was in a preseason game and it was a great thrill," Harbaugh said. "I'm sure he felt that tonight. It was different. It was personal, in the best kind of way. I wish him great success and health."
3. THE 49ERS' DEFENSE IS STOUT: The 49ers' defense made life miserable for Smith and the rest of the Kansas City offense, often effortlessly getting around its suspect offensive line.
The result was seven sacks, eight quarterback hurries and nine tackles for loss.
"You want to move the ball and get some points on the board, so yeah, a little frustrating," Smith said. "It seemed like every time we got a first down, they'd move the chains and we sputtered out and couldn't get another first down."
4. PHIL DAWSON HAS A BIG LEG: When the 49ers signed Phil Dawson, it didn't generate a whole lot of excitement outside the Bay Area. Maybe it should have.
After spending more than a decade with the Browns, capped by an appearance in the Pro Bowl last season, the 38-year-old kicker signed with the 49ers in March. The idea was to solidify their kicking game after David Akers struggled for much of last season.
Dawson was 2 of 3 on field goals in a loss to Denver last week, but he was perfect on three tries against Kansas City. That included two 55-yarders that had plenty of room to spare.
5. FRANK GORE IS (STILL) READY TO RUMBLE: Now in his ninth year in the league, San Francisco running back Frank Gore is showing no signs of slowing down.
The veteran took a handoff on the 49ers' first offensive play, suckered the entire Chiefs defense into flowing to its left, and then made a nifty cutback. Gore started to pick up speed as he rolled around the opposite side, and then hit full stride in the open field.
If not for a nice play by Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers to slow him up, Gore may have taken it the distance. As it was, the four-time Pro Bowler had to settle for a 52-yard gain.
"That was Frank being Frank," Kaepernick said. "He's a great running back. Our offensive line did a great job. They were downfield getting blocks and the receivers were getting blocks. "
Online: AP NFL website http://www.pro32.ap.org