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Ask a former NFL player: What will the Chiefs look like without Patrick Mahomes for the time being?

Will the Chiefs go with a complete scheme change or just small tweaks? Are the 49ers contenders? Geoff Schwartz has answers in this week’s mailbag.

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is standing up and helped off the field by two members of the training staff
Patrick Mahomes injured his kneecap against the Denver Broncos in Week 7.

It’s time for a new mailbag, and this week, the big news is about Patrick Mahomes and the knee injury he suffered on Thursday Night Football against the Denver Broncos. I got the most questions about Mahomes, since that’s what’s on everyone’s mind. But I limited the mailbag to just one so we could cover a few topics.

If you have questions for next time, you can send them to me on Twitter or Instagram.

Let’s get into it.

How do you think the Chiefs’ offense adjusts to the loss of Patrick Mahomes? —@WhiteMambaJP

Mahomes is injured with a patella dislocation in his right knee. According to reports, he’s expected to be out for a short time, but he should return after that.

Either way, the Chiefs are stuck with a backup quarterback for the time being. We saw Matt Moore Thursday night, and he will lead the offense until Mahomes comes back. The second option is Chad Henne, who was the backup quarterback before going on injured reserved. They could bring him off injured reserve, but he’s not ready and I highly doubt that’s happening anyway, especially since Mahomes won’t be out long.

So it’s Moore’s team until Mahomes returns. With Moore entering the lineup, the Chiefs will dust off the Alex Smith playbook. I’d imagine we’d see a more core version of the West Coast offense: short, quick-timing passes, some play-action shots, and more running of the ball. A precision offense that requires the quarterback to be on time with the ball, but not terribly aggressive. These are the things that Moore can accomplish.

Just think about Thursday night. Moore hadn’t played since 2017. He signs with the Chiefs when Henne gets injured in the preseason, and he takes all the scout-team reps in practice. Then, against the Broncos, Mahomes gets injured and in comes Moore. The offense moves down the field and Moore even throws an awesome touchdown pass:

Imagine what could happen when he gets actual reps with the offense and Andy Reid tailors the offense to what he does best.

I also want to end with this: Although Mahomes is expected to return soon, if he doesn’t, the Chiefs aren’t winning the Super Bowl. No one they bring in, outside of Andrew Luck (which isn’t happening), is guiding them to the promise land. However, I trust Reid with Moore, the weapons on offense, and a defense that looked feisty Thursday night to win enough games until Mahomes comes back.

Do you think the 49ers are Super Bowl contenders? If not, what needs to be addressed? — @Killabeekill

Heck yes, the 49ers are contenders. They currently sit second behind the Patriots in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, and that takes into account schedule, which has been “easy” for the Niners.

The reason I believe in the Niners is their defense. Their offense will always be efficient with Kyle Shanahan running it. I know we are in an offensive era, but we often see that balanced teams have the best chance to win the Super Bowl. Those balanced teams can rush the passer, and the 49ers can do that. Nick Bosa has been an outstanding rookie and Dee Ford looks like a new player in the Niners’ red and gold. Add in DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas, and this defense can play with any team.

The Niners’ pass defense has improved more than any unit in the NFL. Their pass defense was ranked 27th last season and now it’s first! What a jump. Couple that with their pass rush and the defense is legit — and good enough to contend.

Why can’t the media ever give Cam Newton credit? — @c_hazelton

As someone who lives in Charlotte and played for the Panthers, I feel like I have some firsthand knowledge about this. Panthers fans are super protective of Newton because the national media didn’t give Newton the due Panthers fans believed he deserve in his first few seasons. And I’d say the fans were probably right on this one.

But then when someone would justifiably criticize Newton, like myself, for his accuracy, we’d be eaten alive for our honest opinion of him. So there’s been this back and forth between the media and Panthers fans. I believe Panthers fans think people “hate” Newton when we give opinions that aren’t flattering, but that’s not true.

Here’s an example. Your starting quarterback has lost his last eight starts dating back to last season, mostly due to injury as he was playing well before those losses. He ended last season injured and then began this season beat up. The team starts slow, he misses time with an injury, and the backups leads the team to four wins in a row. The starter is close to being healthy again, and if someone suggested to leave the backup in because the team is on a roll, you’d probably give at least it some thought.

So that’s why the media is having a Cam Newton vs. Kyle Allen discussion. Not because they hate Newton, but because of the circumstances.

That said, we know a healthy Cam Newton is better than a healthy Kyle Allen. Let’s just see how things play out.