Week 4 Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers 14, Arizona Cardinals 31
What you need to know
In front of 103,467 fans, the largest regular season crowd in NFL history, and the first regular season game played outside the United States, the 49ers’ defensive unit started out in dominating fashion. On the first play from scrimmage Bryant Young broke through the offensive line and sacked Josh McCown causing a fumble that the 49ers returned for the first touchdown of the game. The 49ers’ other score came on the Cardinals’ third series when Marcel Shipp was tackled in the backfield by Travis Hall and he too fumbled the ball which was scooped up and returned 78 yards for a touchdown by Derrick Johnson.
The 49ers’ offense was nonexistent throughout over a total of 50 plays the 49ers managed a total of 168 yards. On the night, the team had total of eight first downs. San Francisco’s offense moved the ball across the 50 yard line only twice on the evening. Tim Rattay was pulled in favor of rookie Alex Smith in the fourth quarter. Smith completed his first regular season pass in the NFL, finishing six of ten for 34 yards.
The 49ers committed eight penalties for 52 yards.
The Arizona Cardinals started the game with two fumbles in their first three possessions. Both fumbles were returned for touchdowns. However the offense turned around in the second quarter and scored on eight straight possessions. They continue to struggle scoring touchdowns inside the opponent’s 30 as illustrated by their 16 – 3 field goal to touchdown ratio. The Cardinals ran 83 plays from scrimmage and had 24 first downs.
Josh McCown had an erratic first quarter but settled down quickly in the second and looked very accurate in the game. McCown showed elusiveness and accuracy versus a banged up 49ers’ secondary. His numbers were 32 of 46 for 385 yards and two touchdowns, career highs for the fourth year quarterback.
Wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin combined to catch 15 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown each. The Cardinals struggled to move the ball on the ground and preferred to take advantage of a banged up San Francisco secondary.
Marcel Shipp carried the ball 16 times for 42 yards and J.J. Arrington carried seven times for 13 yards. Of Arrington’s seven carries he had two that went for positive yardage.
The Cardinals were penalized four times for 37 yards.
What you ought to know
|QB Tim Rattay, Pass: 11 - 21 - 126 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Rattay had a game he would just as soon forget finishing 11 of 21 for 126 yards and an interception. His interception came on a miscommunication with receiver Brandon Lloyd as he threw it directly into the arms of Robert Tate on the 49ers’ second possession of the second half. He was able to move the team across the 50 yard line just once. Rattay was lifted in favor of Alex Smith in the fourth quarter.
Smith came on in relief of Tim Rattay for the 49ers’ final two drives. He completed his first regular season passes of his career. He finished six of ten for 34 yards against a mostly prevent defense. He certainly showed arm strength on a couple of throws and was able to take the 49ers into Cardinals’ territory for only the second time.
Kaepernick played the ‘Tebow’ role for the 49er offense. Kaepernick appeared on his team’s second drive and ran the option with Delanie Walker. Kaepernick showed some nice burst, keeping the ball and picking up 17 yards. Three plays later, Kaepernick came back in, but misfired on a deep ball to Randy Moss. Kaepernick made a bad read by forcing the ball into triple coverage, but luckily, the pass was not intercepted. Kaepernick redeemed himself on the next drive, taking a designed run left for a seven-yard touchdown. Kaepernick was patient, letting Joe Staley lead the way, but accelerated for the score when he saw daylight.
With the 49ers holding a 34-0 lead, the 49ers let Kaepernick lead the final ‘garbage time’ drive. On his final play, Kaepernick took a designed run right for 26 yards. Kaepernick could have easily scored, but slid just two yards before the goal line. With the game in-hand, there was no need to score an unnecessary touchdown. Kaepernick is a great ‘gadget’ quarterback and gives the 49ers an additional element to their offense.
|RB Kevan Barlow, Rush: 10 - 45 - 0, Rec: 3 - 10 - 0 (5 targets)|
Barlow had ten carries for 45 yards on the night and three catches for ten yards. On the game the 49ers’ running backs had only 13 total rushes.
|RB Frank Gore, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 2 - -12 - 0 (2 targets)|
Gore had two carries for four yards and two catches for a negative 12 yards. The 49ers’ running backs combined on 13 total rushes on the game. Gore did lose a fumble late in the game off a reception from Alex Smith.
Hetherington shared fullback duties with Fred Beasley.
Beasley made his way out of Coach Nolan’s doghouse as he started the game in the backfield with Kevan Barlow.
Hicks saw limited duty as an extra wide receiver. He was primarily utilized as a kick returner providing good yardage. He had many opportunities due to the high scoring by the Chiefs’ offense. Unfortunately, he will primarily be remembered in this contest for fumbling one away after a long return that would have given the 49ers their best starting position of the day.
Hunter looks explosive, and should compliment Gore very nicely. He’s a real weapon in the passing game. On one occasion he took a little dumpoff, and exploded upfield, showing great elusiveness. Hunter isn’t a home run threat in the mold of a Sproles or Jerious Norwood. He actually looks more like a Brian Westbrook, very quick and shifty with good speed. Hunter showed good toughness running up the middle as well. It’s very easy to envision a mix between Westbrook and Ray Rice as a career path for Hunter, though he isn’t quite as powerful as Rice. In any event, his elusiveness and big play ability is going to be something that really helps the 49ers down the stretch. Expect him to continue to play a big part in the offensive gameplan of the 49ers.
Most of Hyde’s carries came on inside runs and he was often met in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage. It was rare that one man took him down, but rarer that he had a lane to run through. He made a nice cutback and a spin more for a 6 yard gain on his first carry and broke 3 tackles on a 3 yard carry in the 4th quarter. Hyde’s energy and leg drive were good; he just didn’t have the holes. He again saw action in the red zone, but never close enough to expect a score.
Keasey dropped his only target during the third quarter.
Lloyd made a number of outstanding catches but also had two costly breakdowns. In the first half he fumbled on the 49ers’ best offensive drive of the night. He also appeared to run the wrong route on a Rattay pass in the second half leading to a Rattay interception. He finished the game with seven catches for 102 yards. Lloyd and Morton were the only two wide receivers targeted by 49ers’ quarterbacks.
Morton started in place of injured Arnaz Battle and made a couple of nice catches early on in the game. His numbers on the game were three catches for 46 yards.
Engaging in the most entertaining of battles, Anquan Boldin fought throughout with the nebulous idea of pass interference. Pushing off, hand-fighting, dragging the corner to the ground, Boldin played a physical game against a defense that wanted to play equally physical. At times, Boldin was called for offensive pass interference. At other times, the defense was called for pass interference. But when Boldin cut on an out route, caught the ball on the sideline and fully absorbed Cortland Finnegan’s blow to the legs while keeping a tightrope in bounds as he dove for the touchdown, it was clear that Boldin would be the victor. Often the camera cut towards Boldin having just created a bit of space for himself on the sideline as the ball arrived at his chest, two feet in bounds as Boldin fell backwards for a catch. His ability to gain body position on slants continued to be a difficulty for the defender, as swatting around Boldin’s back was ineffective to jarring passes loose. On Boldin’s long catch of the game, he made an excellent double move to break upfield and Kaepernick hit him in stride for a 42-yard gain, even as Finnegan committed defensive holding.
Michael Crabtree was matched up in man coverage on Dunta Robinson for most of this game and managed to break the CB down with his superb route running several times. All of Crabtree’s catches were within twenty yards of the line of scrimmage, but clearly there was a bigger emphasis on getting him the ball especially early on in this game. Crabtree displayed his soft hands as he snatched a pass out of the air for 14 yards on the 49ers first possession. Smith took a deep shot to Crabtree off play action later in the game, but the pass was overthrown and uncatchable. Crabtree played with a lot more confidence than we have seen through the first three weeks and the addition of the new offensive coordinator could be the best thing that happened for this offense as a whole.
Ellington flashed his speed on a 15 yard end around. He was an ankle tackle away from the taking the play to the house.
Johnson had a 17 yard reception wiped away by a phantom pass interference call but more than made up for it later. His 12 yard touchdown involved a great hands catch on a bullet from Kaepernick and some outstanding footwork to get two feet in bounds. He also had a drop on a short cross that was thrown behind him.
Moss spent the majority of his afternoon sealing the edges for runners. He was targeted once by Kaepernick on a seam route, but the ball was thrown into triple coverage. Moss continues to see a reduced snap count, but he hasn’t made any waves about it.
Patton had one catch for no yardage, and then left the game with a foot fracture.
Carrier had only one catch in the game, breaking two tackles on a ten yard reception in the fourth quarter.
Vernon Davis was not involved in the passing game until late in the fourth quarter. He was able to convert his only target into a 19 yard reception on the 49ers only touchdown drive.
McDonald’s lone catch came on a hook route on the right sideline. The defense played soft coverage, and when McDonald caught the ball the Rams quickly swarmed and took him down for minimal yardage after the catch. In the 3rd quarter, McDonald found himself wide open in the flat but Kaepernick threw the ball behind the tight end.
Nedney was two for two on extra point attempts.
The 49ers’ front seven held the Cardinals’ rushing game to 97 yards on 34 carries and a 2.9 yard per carry average. Jeff Ulbrich led the 49ers in tackles with ten.
The 49ers’ pass defense struggled throughout the night giving up 366 yards to the Cardinals. With a banged up secondary the Cardinals were able to move the ball successfully through the air at a 7.5 yard per pass average. They did manage to hold the Cardinals to only two touchdowns on their eight scoring drives. The 49ers had three sacks on the game two of them coming from Bryant Young.
|QB Josh McCown, Pass: 32 - 46 - 385 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 32 - 0|
McCown had the best night of his career finishing with 385 yards. He completed 32 of 46 passes and threw two touchdowns. McCown showed elusiveness in the pocket as he scrambled for 32 yards on six carries. After a slow start where he was the victim of several drops he settled in nicely in the second quarter and led the team on eight consecutive scoring drives. He needs to improve on turning the drives into touchdowns as six of the drives ended in field goals. He made a statement against a banged up 49ers’ secondary giving the Cardinals their first win of the young season. It will be interesting to see how Dennis Green handles the quarterback situation when Kurt Warner returns from injury especially if McCown can follow up with another strong outing versus Carolina in week five.
Hall came on to replace an ineffective Derek Anderson to try and light a spark under the Arizona offense. He didn’t. Hall was sacked twice on his first series, and things only got worse from there. It’s entirely possible that Hall is going to have recurring nightmares about LB Shaun Phillips, who was in his face pretty much the entire game. Between batted balls at the line, sacks, fumbles, and an intensely relentless pass rush, Hall was never able to feel remotely comfortable. On the rare occasions that he was given a bit of time to throw, he showed nice zip on his passes. But those opportunities were very few and far between. Hall wasn’t intercepted, but Quentin Jammer had his hands on at least two passes that should have been picked. After the game, there was speculation that Hall will be starting in the team’s next game, though no official announcement was made.
Carson Palmer, much like the Cardinals offense as a whole, sputtered again for the second straight week, failing to convert a 3rd down in the entire first half, and turning the ball over twice. The offensive woes of course extend beyond Palmer; play-calling was a major issue early, which Head Coach Bruce Arians’ copped to in his post-game address to the media, and the running game featured more fumbles than runs eclipsing 10 yards. Both of Palmer’s interceptions came on throws off his back foot, a troubling trend over the last few weeks, and likely a result of the offensive line’s spotty protection. The game’s opening play featured a busted blocking assignment which led to a Gerald McCoy sack, and while that turned out to be the only sack surrendered all game, it did appear to have an impact on Palmer’s confidence. Palmer did play better as the game went on, saving many of his best passes for the most important moments, including a perfect 13 yard touchdown strike to Larry Fitzgerald to tie the game late.
|RB Marcel Shipp, Rush: 16 - 42 - 0, Rec: 5 - 52 - 0 (5 targets)|
Shipp struggled to find running room on the game. He finished with 16 carries for 42 yards and his fumble on the San Francisco 13 led to the 49ers’ second defensive touchdown of the night. Shipp did have five catches for 52 yards. Currently the Cardinals’ offensive line is struggling to open any holes for their running backs.
Ayanbadejo had four carries for nine yards and three catches for 18 yards.
Arrington carried the ball seven times for 13 yards. Most of Arrington’s carries on the night went for losses. He seems to be struggling finding holes and spends too much time running laterally.
Ellington’s impact continues to be limited, totaling only seven touches on the day (4 carries/ 3 catches) but his explosiveness is apparent on just about every one of those plays. Ellington had the long run of the day, a 25-yard burst up the right side, and appears a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He’s already become an integral part of the passing game, being targeted over 4 times per game and already with more passing targets than rushing attempts, and his rushing attempts should continue to rise as he outplays starter Rashard Mendenhall. Bruce Arians’ offense will always lean pass-heavy, so he may never be a 20-carry kind of running back, but the Cardinals coaches clearly like what they’re seeing out of the rookie, and will look to find new ways to feature his athleticism in the offense.
Wells, who has been nursing a knee injury, did not see his first carry until early in the second quarter. Tim Hightower carried the majority of the load up until that point. Wells looked fairly strong in running it up the gut on successive rushes, but his five carries and six total rushes didn’t provide much of a sampling on how well he was able to respond. What’s more, the game got out of hand very early on, which prevented Arizona from establishing any sort of rushing attack.
Boldin had eight catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was only the third offensive touchdown on the season by the Cardinals and the first to a player other than Larry Fitzgerald. Boldin’s night could have been even bigger had he been hit on a couple of other throws where he was running free in the 49ers’ secondary.
Fitzgerald finished his night with seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came on a fade route in the end zone where he went up and over the cornerback to take the ball in. He made several grabs over defensive backs and looks like the Cardinals’ primary target in the red zone. He uses his body and his leaping ability to shield defenders and catches most anything thrown his way. He narrowly missed a second touchdown in the red zone but could not handle a McCown pass at the 49ers’ one yard line.
Johnson had five catches for 50 yards. He had a number of key drops early in the game.
Lee played in four receiver sets and caught both passes thrown his way for a total of 28 yards.
Floyd did well to get free deep down the left sideline, but couldn't adjust to a slightly underthrown football from Kolb. He caught a curl pass for 10 yards and a first down in single coverage from the slot. On the very next play, he caught a curl pass for 10 yards and a first down in single coverage at the sideline. Floyd couldn't catch a curl route with a defender on his back as he had to stretch his hands back for the football.
Johnson caught both passes thrown his way on the game for 16 yards.
Bergen had one ball thrown his way.
Bienemann also had one pass thrown his way, but in this game the tight ends did not figure into the Cardinal game plan.
After Kolb was flushed from the pocket from the Dolphins' pass rush, Housler did well to stay alive and continue his crossing route across the field to the same side as his quarterback. Kolb hit Housler on the numbers and he made a big gain for a first down. Housler was showing off his athleticism as he caught a pass down the seam on play-action from Kolb in the fourth quarter that went for 33 yards.
Caught short pass in flat and was hit immediately for two yard gain. He was wide open over the middle in front of the safeties after play action for big gain of 20.
Rackers has hit sixteen consecutive field goals a Cardinals’ record. With the Cardinals struggling to put the ball in the end zone, Rackers has been a fantasy stud. Four of his six field goals came from more than 40 yards out. He took advantage of the thin air of Mexico on his kick offs as well as all of his kicks were touchbacks and he split the uprights with two of them.
The Cardinals’ rush defense was solid on the evening limiting the 49ers to 2.9 yards per carry. The 49ers’ longest run from scrimmage was for 11 yards.
Despite a banged up secondary that had two more defensive backs go down during the game, they held the 49ers to a total of 160 passing yards. They had one interception, five sacks and forced five 49ers’ fumbles. The Cardinals allowed the 49ers to cross the 50 yard line only twice in the game.