The 49ers snapped their three game losing streak and beat the Cardinals 20-12 on Saturday afternoon. Let me say that another way. The CJ-Beathard-led 49ers beat a team basically playing for its postseason life in their own stadium on Saturday afternoon, and they made it look pretty easy. How did they do it? Coaching, coaching, coaching.
If I told you that the 49ers would only complete two passes to wide receivers all game, would you think they would have won? How about if they did that while Robbie Gould missed seven points worth of kicks? How about if they did both of those things while also allowing Kyler Murray to run eight times for 75 yards?
They did all of those things and it didn’t even matter. Why? Because their quarterback didn’t throw an interception for the first time in six weeks and they won the turnover battle. The coaching on this team is so good that all the players have to do is not screw it up and the 49ers will win most of the time.
(You can hear more breakdown of this game in today’s Instant Reaction Podcast with myself and Levin Black below)
The 49ers pushed the Cardinals around on the ground for their highest rushing output of the season, and Kyle Shanahan gift-wrapped 13 completions for 182 yards and three touchdowns for his third-string quarterback. Beathard didn’t do anything spectacular, and he didn’t need to. It was just an absolute clinic on how to move the ball down the field without doing anything risky with the football.
Defensively, Robert Saleh appeared to have cracked the code on how to slow down Kyler Murray. The 49ers brought extra rushers all game long, and frequently overloaded Murray’s right side, forcing him to roll to his left most of the afternoon. The pressure combined with excellent tackling bogged down Arizona’s offense. Murray averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt on 50 passes, and non-Murray rushers averaged just 2.5 yards per carry.
Some fans may take it for granted, but what Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh have been doing is nothing short of amazing. Kyle Shanahan proved once again that he can make just about any quarterback look good if they don’t chuck it to the guys on the other team, and the defense continued a year of excellence without several Pro Bowl caliber players.