The San Francisco 49ers had the Arizona Cardinals in position to strike the knockout blow and take home victory No. 1. Instead, Arizona drive the length of the field quickly in overtime, punched in a touchdown, and left the 49ers stunned and wondering what had happened.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh summed it up best on Thursday when he met with the media.
“One drive, one drive just pissed it all away.”
He apologized for his language, but like Kyle Shanahan, I appreciate the bluntness he showed. The 49ers came up short on that final drive, and he thinks it was not for lack of opportunities to end it. He was asked if given a second chance, he would have been more aggressive earlier in the drive.
“Early in the drive, just mindset-wise, in my mind, a check down is a five-yard gain. That’s why I call it the kill zone. We should be foaming at the mouth when that ball comes down there. And we had our opportunities. You don’t anticipate two check downs getting a combined 20-yards. That’s bad ball, very bad ball to be honest with you. And we recognize that part. Would I do it over again? I don’t know. Every situation is different. I do feel like those guys played their tails off for four quarters. Really, really, controlled the tempo of the game and really dictated the game and had a chance to blow that thing out of the water again.”
The 49ers have been in position to win, or at least tie a game three straight weeks. Saleh has brought a variety of blitzes, and often they are effective. Given the success they’ve had when blitzing, it will be interesting to see how they mix and match blitzes moving forward.
In their first four games, they faced Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Carson Palmer. Three of the four are veterans who can do a lot of different things. Goff is only a second-year quarterback, but he’s showing significant progress in his work with offensive guru Sean McVay. As they face some quarterbacks with a little less experience, or more questionable offensive coaches, maybe the 49ers throw the kitchen sink at them a little more in closer situations?