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San Francisco 49ers 2010 Season In Review: Week 12, AT Arizona Cardinals

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At 3-7 and following an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 49ers wobbled into their week 12 match-up against the Arizona Cardinals with a must win victory. Despite being 4 games under .500 through 11 weeks the 49ers were still in the midst of a playoff race.

After the jump I will focus on what transpired during this must-win game, how the 49ers reacted eight days following their home shutout loss, and the impact on Frank Gore's season ending injury.

Both San Francisco and Arizona came into the game at 3-7, and both needed to win at least four of their final six games in order to win the division. The loser of this game was going to fall into last place and be out of the playoff race.

San Francisco won the toss and elected to receive. Frank Gore took the first rush of the game off of right tackle and gained 25 yards, there was some good blocking up front by the 49ers, but Gore is the one that did most of the work in anticipating a lane, jumping into it and bull rushing forward. Following two Troy Smith incomplete passes, Gore took the ball off of left tackle out of the shotgun and gained 15 yards for another San Francisco 1st down. Two plays later, on 3rd down, Troy Smith eluded an Arizona pass rush and gained 7 to move the chains once more. Two plays later, on 2nd down, Frank Gore was stopped for a loss of a yard; and it was with this that his season ended. Gore would later come into the game in a cameo performance, but the injury occurred here. Like clock work, Shane Andrus missed the ensuing 47 yard FG and the 49ers wasted a golden opportunity to score

On Arizona's first play from scrimmage Derek Anderson bobbled the snap and Aubrayo Franklin recovered it at Arizona's 38 yard line. On the very next play Troy Smith hit Michael Crabtree hit Michael Crabtree down the seem uo the middle between two Arizona Cardinal defenders for a 38 yard TD (7-0 San Francisco)

Arizona would get something going from their own 32 on the next drive. Anderson hit Larry Fitzgerald for 6 yards and after a negative run by Tim Hightower, Anderson connected with Beanie Wells for 43 yards down to San Francisco's 20. The 49ers defense would hold and force a successful 31 yard FG by Jay Feeley (7-3 San Francisco)

Once again the 49ers wouldn't waste any time showing Arizona who was boss in this NFC West match-up. Frank Gore seeing his final action of the 2010 season would rush for 14 yards on the first two plays of their next drive, setting San Francisco up at Arizona's 40. Troy Smith connected with Josh Morgan on a short out route for 9 yards and Anthony Dixon gained 2 up the middle on the next play; moving the chains. After Troy Smith threw the ball away on 1st down, he would connect with Vernon Davis for 16 yards. Brian Westbrook set the 49ers up with another 1st down by carrying the ball for 10 yards on the next two plays, and Anthony Dixon took it the rest of the way for a 1 yard TD run. (14-3 San Francisco, End of First Quarter)

Both teams went three and their next drives before Arizona took over at their own 16 yard line. San Francisco's defense would stand up big time on this drive. Travis LaBoy stepped in front of a Derek Anderson pass intended for Tim Hightower, just barely missing an interception. Reggie Smith and Takeo Spikes combined to stop Beanie Wells in his tracks for 1 yard gain, and on 3rd down Phillip Adams showed some great coverage ability in breaking up a deep pass intended for Steve Breaston; Arizona was forced to punt. Ben Graham let off a cannon of a punt for 65 yards back tracking Ted Ginn to his own 16. But, it appeared that Graham out kicked his coverage and Ginn took it to Arizona's 42 yard line for a gain of 42 before he was stopped by rookie LB, Daryl Washington. A couple plays later, on 3rd down, Troy Smith connected with Vernon Davis again; this time for 16 yards just outside the Arizona 20. After a Smith completion to Josh Morgan, Brian Westbrook would do the rest. The former Philadelphia Eagles RB, getting his first extended playing time as a 49er, ran the ball for 7 yards and then 8 yards and a TD; giving the 49ers a huge lead. (21-3 San Francisco)

Arizona would amount a small drive for a FG, and the rest of the first half would end without much drama. San Francisco would take a comfortable lead into the half, still worried about Gore (21-6 San Francisco)

Arizona would get the ball first after San Francisco elected to receive to begin the game. And, their offensive woes continued; mainly Derek Anderson. On 3rd down and 8, Anderson had Early Doucet wide open up the middle and floated the ball over his head; Arizona was forced into a three and out.

San Francisco began their initial drive of the 2nd half at their own 30. Troy Smith connected with Michael Crabtree for 10 yards on 1st down. Moran Norris would get a rare carry and be stopped for no gain, however, Clark Haggins was for an unnecessary roughness; giving San Francisco the ball at Arizona's 45. After a few nice plays, San Francisco would have to settle for a 37 yard FG, but the Andrus kick was blocked by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Once again Arizona's offense couldn't mount a drive as San Francisco forced another three and out. Starting from their own 36, the 49ers had to add to their two touchdown lead, and they did. Josh Morgan would run a reverse off the left end for 13 yards, another block would have freed him to go the distance. Brian Westbrook continued his renaissance in replacement of Frank Gore and took the ball for 6 and 19 on two consecutive rushes; setting the 49ers up just outside the Cards 25. Anthony Dixon would gain 6 yards on two straight rushes, but on 3rd down Troy Smith would miss an open Michael Crabtree down the right sideline. Shane Andrus came in to attempt another FG, but this time he connected from 38 yards to give the 49ers some more breathing room. (24-6 San Francisco)

After Derek Anderson connected with Early Doucet on a deep right out, all heck broke loose. He proceeded to throw the next pass into quadruple coverage, yes quadruple coverage. Takeo Spikes would pick the pass off, run it to Arizona's 45 before lateraling to Nate Clements, who took it another 33 yards to Arizona's 12. Ken Whisenhut would challenge that Spikes was down, which he was. The ball was market at the 49ers 35, but an unnecessary roughness penalty to Arizona brought it to mid-field. Immediately following the disaster of a play, Derek Anderson was seen on the sideline laughing it up with certain Arizona Cardinal plays, including Early Doucet. More on that later. After the dust had cleared, San Francisco had it at the 50. The 3rd quarter came to an end with San Francisco completing man-handling the Arizona front four; it was a piece of art. Westbrook ended the quarter with runs of 15, 7 and 3. (24-6 San Francisco, End of 3rd Quarter)

After a few interesting plays, including a Troy Smith fumble, which was later reversed, the 49ers added on to the lead with a 26 yard FG by Shane Andrus (27-6 San Francisco)

The game concluded with Arizona continuing to kick themselves in the foot and San Francisco dominating the line of scrimmage. Arizona would run a few no huddle drives with no success, and the 49ers were content with sitting on the ball while leading by three TDs. Anthony Dixon showed some true grit by picking up three 1st downs on the 49ers final drive as to end the game without any futher drama (27-6 San Francisco, End of Regulation)

Post Game Quotes From Niners and Cardinals Community

"Every single week, I put my heart and soul into this," Anderson shouted. "I don't go there and laugh. It's not funny. Nothing's funny to me. I don't want to go out there and get embarrassed on 'Monday Night Football' in front of everybody." (Derek Anderson, responding to a question by Arizona reporters following the loss, 11/29/10

(Note: I cannot paste the rest of the transcript due to a site decorum that we here at Niners Nation place)

But, here is the you tube link.

49ers win Suck Bowl ( Bignerd, 11/29/10)

254 rushing Yards

I feel like something really funny should go here. But 254 rushing yards without Gore... and 90% up the middle. Hilarious (AKinferno, 11/29/10)

On the injury report:

"As far as the injuries are concerned, [RB] Frank Gore, hip fracture. We're still having tests run today, see how that goes. [LB] Parys Haralson, ankle strain, that's a day-to-day issue. [G] David Baas, concussion, day-to-day. [WR] Dominique Zeigler, like Frank, will have tests throughout the day to see how severe or what the situation is there, it's a knee sprain. Let's see, [WR] Josh Morgan, shoulder, day-to-day. [CB] Will James, we'll have to continue to see how that goes." (Mike Singletary, 11/30/10)

On whether he has to sit Baas down for the upcoming Green Bay game because he had a concussion last night:

"Yes. Wait a minute, do you mean the game last night? [Response: ‘No, the game coming up.'] No. it really comes down to how severe. There are certain tests that they have for the severity of the concussion. As with one of the players last night for Arizona; I assumed he wasn't going to play, [Cardinals WR Early] Doucet I think. I think he had a concussion the week prior and I thought it was a severe concussion because of what I saw, but he played last night. So it all comes down to the testing mechanism that they have and we judge from there." (Mike Singletary, 11/30/10) Note: I just loved his response. What did he think the reporting was asking him?

Analysis

I am not going to lie, this was a fun game to watch; well at least until we found out about the severity of Frank Gore's injury. I absolutely love the way the 49er players reacted to the loss against Tampa Bay a week earlier. It doesn't matter that Arizona really didn't show up, the 49ers did. From the dominating offensive line play, to the killer instinct. However, it must be noted that I had already lost confidence in a playoff run after the Tampa Bay debacle. At this point I was just looking for entertaining football, and that is what we got.

The Good

Well there was a lot of good in this game. For starters, the 49ers ran for a whopping 261 yards on 47 carries; including 207 yards without Frank Gore. San Francisco piled up 26 first downs, compared to 8 for Arizona, and they held nearly a 2-1 time of possession lead. Arizona had a grant total of 13 yards; to put that into context you have to realize that San Francisco had 13 or more yards on 7 separate rushing plays. Additionally, Larry Fitzgerald was held to under 40 yards receiving on 9 targets.

The Bad

There was some of this too. Frank Gore fractured his shoulder, and for a while there many of us feared the worse. As it is, Gore missed the rest of the 2010 season and was sorely missed. Although both Westbrook and Dixon did a decent job picking up the slack, you cannot be too happy when your best offensive player is injured. Shane Andrus was downright pathetic in this game. He missed a FG, had another blocked, just barely made a third and had a couple back kick-offs. Also, Troy Smith was not all too accurate in this game, completing less than 50 percent of his passes.

Standout Performance(s)

Again, there was a nice amount of 49er players that played well. First, I would have to acknowledge the play of Brian Westbrook, who carried the ball for 136 yards and nearly 6 per attempt. The 49ers offensive line came to play in a big way in this game. My true standout performance goes to Mike Iupati, who continued to show that he is going to be one hell of a football player in the NFL. He opened up lane after lane for 49er runners and dominated Arizona's interior linemen. San Francisco's defense allowed 6 points and 8 first downs, so there has to be some props going to that side of the ball. Accordingly, I loved the way Patrick Willis, Reggie Smith and Nate Clements played; they stepped up big.

Game Changing Play(s)

In a route like this you would be hard pressed to find one, however, I found two. First, Derek Anderson's fumbled snap on Arizona's opening play set the tone. San Francisco had just driven down and missed a FG, but Anderson gave any momentum that Arizona might of had back to the 49ers. Secondly, the Takeo Spikes interception and subsequent run back. Although, he was ruled down the play gave San Francisco that added push to put the game away.

Conclusion

What a difference six days make, right? San Francisco completely dominated Arizona in every aspect, they shut up the opposing crowd on Monday Night, made their QB look like a CFL drop out, hit Darnell Docket in the face (joking), and took it to Arizona. However, it was a bitter-sweet victory; San Francisco lost one of their best players, Frank Gore, for the rest of the season. During the game I continued to wonder what had happened to Gore, but was just excited about the way San Francisco played. Coming into this game San Francisco was 3-7, we didn't have a lot to cheer for. But, for one night on national TV, we had a lot to cheer for!

Stats

Troy Smith: 11/23-129 Yards- 1 TD- 1 INT- 1 Sack (61.7 Rating)

Brian Westbrook: 23 Rushes- 136 Yards- 5.9 AVG- TD

Anthony Dixon: 14 Rushes- 54 Yards- 3.9 AVG- TD

Frank Gore: 5 Rushes- 52 Yards- 10.4 AVG

Michael Crabtree: 2 Receptions- 48 Yards- TD

Vernon Davis: 2 Receptions- 32 Yards- TD

Derek Anderson: 16/35- 196 Yards- 0 TD- INT- Fumble- 1 Sack (51.6 Rating)

Beanie Wells: 5 Rushes- 13 Yards- 2.6 AVG

Early Doucet: 5 Receptions- 60 Yards

Larry Fitzgerald: 4 Receptions- 37 Yards

1st Downs 26 8
Passing 1st downs
6 8
Rushing 1st downs
18 0
1st downs from Penalties
2 0
3rd down efficiency
7-13 2-11
4th down efficiency
0-0 0-1
Total Plays 71 47
Total Yards 386 203
Passing 125 190
Comp-Att
11-23 16-35
Yards per pass
5.4 5.4
Rushing 261 13
Rushing Attempts
47 11
Yards per rush
5.6 1.2
Red Zone (Made-Att) 2-4 0-3
Penalties 6-40 6-61
Turnovers 1 2
Fumbles lost
0 1
Interceptions thrown
1 1
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 0
Possession 39:01 20:59