The 49ers' offense received the ball to start the game and marched into Cardinals' territory. It seemed as though they’d score easily before three straight incomplete passes and a sack stalled the drive.
On their next drive, after the defense got a stop, George Kittle fumbled, which gave the Cardinals the ball at the 43-yard line. Arizona marched nine plays for 57 yards to score on the touchdown. They faced two third downs, but both of those only had one yard to gain. Emmanuel Moseley had a woeful tackle attempt on James Conner that led to Arizona’s touchdown.
A Deebo Samuel drop ended the ensuring offensive drive before it could start. That forced a punt. Thankfully, the defense — aided by a holding penalty on Nick Bosa — forced a 3rd & 18. Unfortunately, Azeez Al-Shaair whiffed on Conner in the open field, and there was no other defender around Conner to prevent him from picking up the first down.
Arik Armstead was flagged for a facemask after a sack on McCoy. It was questionable, but I also see why the refs threw the flag. After a trick play, Conner ran it in for a touchdown to go up 14-0.
People were rightfully upset at the penalty. However, the anger should have been directed at a team coming out flat against an offense playing its backup quarterback and two receivers, as well as left tackle.
The offense moved the ball after being bailed out on a third-down penalty by Arizona. Garoppolo found Aiyuk, Kittle, and Aiyuk again. On the final throw to Aiyuk, after an amazing catch, he fumbled the ball, heading into the end zone. The Cardinals launched a deep pass for 50 yards and were within the 49ers red zone in a handful of plays.
After Armstead had a sack, the 49ers appeared to have stopped the Cardinals on third down. But, Norman was flagged for taunting. That gave Arizona a fresh set of downs before they eventually settled for a field goal to make it 17-0.
Mike McGlinchey went to the locker room, and that meant Tom Compton would play right tackle in his absence. Chandler Jones sacked Garoppolo on the same drive.
The offense answered with a 9-play, 75-yard drive where Jimmy found Kittle for a six-yard touchdown to make it 17-7 at halftime.
The Cardinals scored in three plays to begin the second half after Conner raced for 45 yards on a screen pass. That made it 24-7. The 49ers followed that up with a three-and-out after Daniel Brunskill was beaten instantaneously off the snap that led to a sack.
Conner ran for 35 yards on the first play in the following possession. Then, Eno Benjamin ran right through Dre Kirkpatrick en route to a 21-yard touchdown to make it 31-7. The half started in the worst possible way for the 49ers. It felt like rock bottom.
Garoppolo found Kittle on a wheel route, then Aiyuk in the end zone, who made another fantastic grab in double coverage, to make the score 31-14. There were just under five minutes to go in the game. San Francisco had to get a stop and the ball back before the end of the third quarter to have a chance.
I had a big issue with kicking an extra point to make it a 17-point game. If you go for two, it’s a two-possession game. So the odds that you have three possessions to come back and win at this juncture in the game were slim to none.
The 49ers wound up forcing a punt after for the first time with just over a minute to play in the third quarter. Then, before the end of the third quarter, the 49ers let 36 seconds run off the field.
After moving the ball, Tom Compton allowed his third sack of the game. That led to a 4th & 13 from Arizona’s 39-yard line. Shanahan elected to punt. Arizona wound up going three-and-out, but Shanahan’s process was off. Arizona had only punted one time, you had allowed 31 points, and your tackling had been shotty all game.
Aiyuk had a long punt return that gave the 49ers the ball inside of Arizona territory. A 7-play, 28-yard drive ended in a field goal after Mohamed Sanu committed offensive pass interference on 1st & goal. Gould’s kick was good from 26 yards out to make the score 31-17 with 8:23 left on the clock.
The defense allowed a first down, which was the one thing they couldn’t do. That allowed Arizona to continue to chew up the clock. A second third down on the drive put a nail in the 49ers' comeback coffin.
This game is on Shanahan. I understand the 49ers have injuries. That’s not an excuse if you look at the other team. The 49ers came out flat in both halves and made mistake after mistake. They had an opportunity to leap into the final wild-card spot. Instead, they laid an egg.
The game was capped off when Garoppolo, as he tends to do, missed an underneath defender that led to an interception. I’m not sure what’s next for this team, but Sunday was ugly.