clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

49ers-Cardinals film review: Just Lose It

We take a look at how the 49ers gave up another tough loss at the end of Sunday’s game.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last Sunday’s game was painful. It’s like the San Francisco 49ers got everything fans wanted and still ended up with the same result. We wanted no turnovers from C.J. Beathard, and we got that. We wanted explosive plays on offensive, and we got a 55-yard scamper from Marquise Goodwin. We wanted to win defensively, and we did to the tune of three sacks and finally an interception. However once the game clock struck zero we were handed yet another heart-breaking loss.

I read the chatter online, you know “Elegant tank” or the “Bosa sweepstakes,” that we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of. I can never understand how people expect teams to build a culture of winning by losing. That’s an oxymoron. The only thing that breeds winners, is winning. So miss me with that, and don’t @ me bro. I want Ws.

With that being said, this loss as with most this season was a shared defeat. Sure we could point to the fact that we were playing with our third free safety this season, our third string strong safety who spent most of last season on the practice squad, or the second string weak side linebacker, who was actually our starting strong side linebacker in Malcolm Smith, who technically is only playing in his sixth game since 2016 — but those are technicalities, right? This is the NFL. What I saw on the final 2 minute drive was a combination of things. Some included lazy technique, some plays we were out schemed. I saw a rookie QB in Josh Rosen showing why he was a top 10 pick in the draft. Some plays just didn’t bounce our way, a common theme this year. All in all, things just fell apart when we needed them to stay together the most. Let’s get into the film.

I started actually with our final offensive play, before the Cardinals got the ball. It’s 3rd and 6. We’re in 4-wide. That leaves six to block, the Cardinals are showing heavy pressure, they’ve got eight in the box. I’m looking at the play wondering ok, could CJ have audibled to something else with more protection? Maybe something that rolled the pocket? Should Kyle Shanahan have called timeout? I know we didn’t want to stop the clock but the way this season has gone, our defense has held one team from coming back — the Lions in Week 2, and it was more Matthew Stafford missing throws than our defense stopping him. So we should do all we can to keep the ball.

The added wrinkle from Arizona comes in the how they attack, and drop into coverage. At the snap, Arizona knows we’re going to run something quick and over the middle — we hardly hit outside — so they fake a middle LB blitz and he falls right back into the area that would’ve been open. Once CJ sees this he’s got no where to go. It’s still six blockers versus seven rushers and the one unblocked defender gets home. We were out schemed.

Cardinals get the ball. After two incompletions it’s 3rd and 10. I have several questions about this play. As the play unfolds, Larry Fitzgerald is left one-on-one in the slot. Somehow we felt doubling rookie Christian Kirk was the move. Not sure what he did to attract so much attention. Larry Legend runs a simple 10 yard curl to convert the first down. Here’s where things get wacky.

From the end zone angle watch Solomon Thomas, No. 94. He knifes down across the center and gets a good push on the guard, but then for some reason he stops and starts running away from Rosen, then he realizes, “oh yeah, I’m rushing the passer” but by then it’s too late the ball is gone. I’m not sure Thomas would’ve gotten a sack or anything impressive, but there’s a possibility that added pressure would’ve prevented Rosen from having such an easy completion.

After the completion to Larry Fitzgerald, it’s 1st and 10, and Rosen comes back with a dime. I can’t even fault anyone defensively for this one. Rosen shows some real talent here. What’s more impressive is Fitzgerald doesn’t appear to be his first read. From the end zone angle watch him scan, and decide. A great throw with anticipation into an open area, that no one can defend, at least in this year’s NFL. A few years ago, I could see Jimmie Ward coming in high and hot to try and dislodge the ball from the receiver. With these new rules however, he has to come in controlled and simply tackle him low. A strong catcher of the football like Fitzgerald has no problem with this catch in traffic.

After a first down incompletion it’s now 2nd and 10. Two things on this play. Lazy coverage by Sherman, as he immediately bails at the snap. The rookie Kirk presses him until Sherman commits to running deep and breaks off the route — he’s wide open. What also helps this play, and it’s something we heavily miss in our own quarterback, is again the anticipation on the completion. I stop the tape when Rosen is releasing this ball, and you can see Kirk isn’t even out of his break yet. Even without the lazy coverage, I can bet this would’ve been completed simply because of the throw and timing. Rosen has been one of the few quarterbacks this year to go at Sherman and the veteran cornerback probably didn’t expect it.

Our next clip, Robert Saleh determines the zone scheme hasn’t been working, so he goes to man coverage. It’s 2nd and 15, after a first down penalty for illegal substitution (which happened twice, only called once, but whatever). Rookie linebacker Fred Warner ends up one-on-one with the tight end. Warner is beat on a crossing route, which is a tough route even for a solid nickel corner to defend, let alone a rookie linebacker. He does well to close and make the tackle at the end but the damage is done. It’s also a quick throw which negates any sort of pass rush. Great play call.

After the previous completion it’s now 3rd and 2. We just get unlucky. We have good coverage. Ahkello Witherspoon is in decent coverage, but when the receiver Chad Williams starts his break inward Witherspoon steps on his foot, and stumbles. That leaves him open enough for Rosen to make the completion. We can’t win for losing smh. I think the defensive line gets good push, but Rosen still has enough time to quickly scan the field and make a contested last minutedf throw.

Again the defense tries to hold and gets Arizona to 3rd down and long. It’s 3rd and 9. A couple of layers to this play. The 49ers are faking a man coverage look. When the TE goes in motion inside, strong safety Tyvis Powell follows him inside. However, the coverage is a zone. You can tell because as the play develops, the entire secondary is watching Rosen and not the receivers. The Cardinals attack the zone by putting two receivers within the zone Powell is covering. The tight end, Ricky Seals-Jones, breaks out, and Powell leans towards him just enough for Rosen to drop yet another dime right behind him as Kirk runs a crossing route along the back of the end zone. Despite Powell’s coverage mishap this is still a difficult throw. It has to be high enough to get over the linebackers, but still fast enough to prevent Jimmie Ward from closing in and making the hit. It’s perfect. When Rosen releases this ball, Kirk is still on the right side of Powell, but he trusts the open area and throws with anticipation. With that said Powell’s inexperience is on display here, he should trust that Witherspoon is going to cover Seals-Jones on the out, but I can’t imagine these two have spent a lot time together on the field. So Powell hesitates unsure of where to go and gives up the TD. He’s visibly upset after the play. As were we.

This week we play another team in disarray, the Oakland Raiders. At least our team can lean on the fact that we’ve decimated by injuries at key positions. The Raiders on the other hand traded away their best players, and just genuinely suck. Tyvis Powell, gets a shot at redemption as he’s set to start due to injuries. C.J. Beathard is banged up, having injured his wrist in the second quarter on Sunday. He is not practicing this week, and will be a game-day decision. If he cannot play, Nick Mullens would get the start. Expectations would be decidedly low. A player doesn’t go undrafted, waived/released, to practice squad, to all of a sudden lighting it up when he hits the field in prime time. Then again it’s the Raiders, Go Niners!