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49ers Vs. Cardinals: Top Five Defensive Plays

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The San Francisco 49ers put together a mixed defensive performance on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. They gave up a couple. They gave up a fairly sizable pair of plays to Early Doucet and Larry Fitzgerald, which cost them 14 points. While those hurt, the 49ers defense put together a solid string of big plays of their own. They sacked Kevin Kolb, forcing a fumble and knocking Kolb from the game and they grabbed a pair of interceptions.

The bad news from those turnovers was that the 49ers only managed three points. One of the interceptions was followed by a first down and then a three and out, while the fumble eventually resulted in the aborted fake field goal attempt and subsequent missed 50-yard field goal. The 49ers lead the league in turnover differential and yet their offense struggles with consistency.

The 49ers offense is not a high-flying, big play offense, so getting great field position is an important aspect of getting the offense going. They once again found themselves in great field position and yet they could do very little with it. When you start two separate drives inside the opponent's 20 and come away with six points, that is simply unacceptable.

I don't exactly have solutions to suggest, but Jim Harbaugh, his coaching staff and the players have all week to figure something out. Coach Harbaugh has stressed that he realizes that there are criticisms for the results we saw on Sunday. He would not go into detail beyond that other than to say the team would discuss the problems internally and not with the media. That leaves us basically speculating for a week until we see what happens next Sunday. So, speculate away.

Here are five of the top plays from Sunday with a look at the subsequent 49ers result. They are in order of occurrence:

1. Justin Smith sacks Kevin Kolb and forces fumble recovered by Cardinals.

Result: Kolb leaves the game with a concussion. Arizona punts from their own 8-yard line and San Francisco starts their ensuing drive at the Arizona 43. The 49ers drove down to the Cardinals 28 and got three points on an Akers field goal.

2. John Skelton scrambles up the middle and Aldon Smith hammers down from behind, forcing Skelton to fumble the ball. Ray McDonald recovers the fumble.

The 49ers drove down to the Cardinals 32. They attempted a fake field goal but it was blown dead because Arizona reportedly threw the red challenge flag before the snap. David Akers then attempted a 50-yard field goal and was wide right. I am curious if the fact that he was drilled by a defender on the fake might have impacted his subsequent kick?

3. John Skelton throws a pass to Andrew Roberts that is intercepted by Dashon Goldson at the Arizona 33 and returned to the Arizona 16.

The 49ers convert a 3rd and 5 with a seven yard pass to Ted Ginn to get 1st and goal at the 4 with 14 seconds left. They attempt two passes to Ted Ginn before successfully kicking a field goal to end the half.

4. John Skelton sacked by Aldon Smith on 3rd and 23, followed by Aldon's now patented run off the field sack "celebration."

The Cardinals punt from their own two yard line. An 11-yard Ginn return sets the 49ers up at the Arizona 37. A Frank Gore run on the first play results in a touchdown. Hooray beer!

5. John Skelton throws pass to Larry Fitzgerald that is intercepted by Tarell Brown at the 49ers 20.

49ers get a first down on a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty and then go three and out, punting away.