The San Francisco 49ers played a spoiler on the Arizona Cardinals’ playoff prospects with a 20-12 win, taking their first victory at State Farm Stadium since moving in Week 13. Here are six takeaways from the contest.
Despite being shorthanded, the San Francisco defense fought to keep Kyler Murray and Co. in check. Richard Sherman (calf), Jimmie Ward (concussion), Javon Kinlaw (knee) and several other defensive players were absent from Saturday’s game, but the defense remained stable, making several notable plays while keeping Arizona out of the game. end zone for almost all of the contest.
Here are some highlights of the 49ers’ defensive performance against the Cardinals:
- San Francisco got off to a hot start. Arizona managed to walk down to open the contest, however, a string of games by substitutes Marcell Harris, Tarvarius Moore and Ahkello Witherspoon kept the Cardinals’ high powered offense out of the end zone and in front. settle for three. .
- Fred Warner posted the 49ers’ first result of the day on a tackle against Cardinals tight end Dan Arnold. Warner and Azeez Al-Shaair shot the tight end as the ball slackened on its way to the ground. The linebacker continued his All-Pro campaign, hitting a fourth pass in the fourth quarter that gave San Francisco offensive possession inside Cardinals territory. Warner finished the game ahead of the 49ers with 14 tackles, eight solo.
- In the 49ers’ first meeting against the Cardinals, the 49ers had no answer for DeAndre Hopkins, who recorded 151 yards on 14 receptions. It was a whole different story in Week 16, in part because of cornerback Jason Verrett. Verrett recorded a huge pass break on a Murray touchdown at Hopkins before half-time. He also prevented Hopkins from converting in the Cardinals’ final fourth game to seal the victory. Hopkins was limited to just eight receptions for 48 yards on Saturday.
- The game of the match came with less than five minutes left in the contest with Arizona in the scoring position. At 2nd and 11th from the 49ers’ 11-yard line, Murray took a shot from the back end of the end zone on a pass to Christian Kirk, while Witherspoon, who started in place of Sherman, jumped in front of the receiver. for the interception.
“The ups and downs that Ahkello went through this year and the way he’s played the past two weeks, the way he played today, says a lot about the guy,” Shanahan said after the game. “We had a few injured guys so he got the chance again. And because of the way he behaved when adversity struck, that’s why he was ready for the opportunity. He helped us last week. Still helped us a lot today, and it will also help him in his career. ”
- K’Waun Williams was another defensive star. The nickel corner sacked Murray, his second of the season and sixth of his career. The corner hit Murray on a blitz for a loss of seven yards. He also deflected a pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald which was incomplete.
- Kerry Hyder Jr. and DJ Jones also recorded bags. Hyder Jr. recorded his 8.5 sack in the team lead this season. Jones now has 3.0 on the year.
Just a week ago, Murray hit a 400-yard touchdown, four overall, while averaging over 11 yards per attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a different story on Saturday as the San Francisco defense kept the quarterback 60 percent going for 247 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 66.0 passer rating. The 49ers limited Arizona to 4.4 yards per play and 25 percent on third downs. The quarterback still managed to put 75 yards on the ground, including his 30-yard pickup before Witherspoon’s interception.
In his first start of the season, CJ Beathard put in a three touchdown performance while completing 13 of 22 passes for 192 yards and no interceptions. The quarterback threw touchdowns at Jeff Wilson Jr. and Kyle Juszczyk (2) and connected with seven different receivers that day.
The quarterback also picked up 18 rushing yards on two designed runs.
“I thought CJ played really well. I thought he had made a few plays in the passing game. He did a good job in the area, ”Shanahan said. “Just his leadership over there – the way guys were drawn to him. You could feel it during the week in training. He arrived on Wednesday when he had his reps for the first time, so ready to go. I think you could tell how well they performed for him too. I was very impressed with CJ and am very happy for him today. ”
San Francisco’s offense finished the day with 398 yards on offense on just 55 offensive plays (vs. 80 in Arizona) averaging 7.2 yards per play.
Beathard took advantage of his former Hawkeyes’ tight end on the field on Saturday, as Kittle led the 49ers pass catchers in his first game since Week 8. Kittle finished the day with 4 of 5 catches for 92 yards . The tight end embraced contact, forcing defenders to miss while scooping up yards after contact.
Kittle also played a key role in the 49ers game, helping to open some holes for Jeff Wilson Jr.’s career day (see below).
“Everyone on the pitch sees what this means to us, how good he is in the running game and in the passing game. Just having him in practice is different, ”Shanahan said. “We knew that just being a part of us and dressing him today would be able to help a ton. With just what he was able to do even statistically in the passing game and still in the running game, I can’t say enough about George. ”
With Raheem Mostert finished for the remainder of the season, Wilson Jr. took charge as the leader of San Francisco and put on a career performance. Wilson finished the day with a career-high 183 rushing yards on 22 carries and landed 21 yards for a touchdown, his eighth scoring of the season.
Wilson Jr.’s 204 scrum yards were the most scored by a 49ers running back since Frank Gore in 2009. (Week 2 vs. Seattle Seahawks – 207 yards)
San Francisco’s 227 rushing yards were their biggest production of the season.