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49ers Vs. Cardinals Recap: Defense Leads Ugly But Thorough Victory

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The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up a 23-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon to improve to 9-1 on the season. The 49ers will not extend their division lead overall as the Seahawks won, but the 49ers moved a step closer to locking up the NFC West. It was not a pretty game, but the defense dominated for the most part and the offense blew up just when it was most needed.

The first half was about as ugly as could be as the offense and special teams both struggled. The 49ers led 9-0 at the end of thirty minutes of play, but really it should have been a much bigger lead. Fortunately the 49ers defense showed up in a big way today and made the Cardinals look fairly useless on offense. The 49ers defense bent a bit late, but for the most part it was a dominant performance.

The offense did step up its game in the third quarter as they turned the 9-0 lead into a 23-0 lead. The 49ers had a chance to add seven more points but Alex Smith threw a rare red zone interception in the end zone. Naturally, the 49ers defense followed that up by forcing an Arizona three and out.

While this was never really a stomach-churning game, it was not a simple one to enjoy. The Cardinals didn't really show much until it was too late, but it still took the 49ers some time to handle their business. The good news is they took a big lead into the fourth quarter and were able to rest Frank Gore in the fourth quarter. The team has a quick turnaround as they face the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving, so any rest they could get Gore would be huge.

There was some concern that this was a trap game and when the 49ers struggled early I was concerned they were letting the Cardinals hang around just a little too long. Fortunately the defense brought its A-game and the Cardinals could not get anything going until it was a little too late. 9-1 is 9-1 and it is time for the next big showdown this Thursday.