The rain picked up just as the game kicked off. There was a pretty good drizzle, and the Cardinals went three-and-out to start the game. Not to be outdone, the 49ers punted after three plays themselves. Jimmy Garoppolo took a shot down the field to Jauan Jennings, but incidental contact was ruled, and the Niners brought out Mitch Wishnowsky.
Arizona found DeAndre Hopkins on the ensuing drive as he had three receptions for 40 yards, including a pair of first downs. The Niners held in the red zone and forced a Matt Prater 40-yard field goal but lost Charvarius Ward to a groin injury on the drive.
The Cardinals would go on to score another touchdown, but that was the last of the good news for Arizona. Since the Cardinals made it 14-10, the 49ers reeled off 24 points in a row. That’s not what good teams do; it’s what dominant teams do.
I don’t want to hear about injuries or a backup quarterback. We see every team struggle weekly in these situations. The 49ers looked like an elite team from their third drive on. They deserve credit for that.
The Cardinals struggle with underneath passes, and that fits perfectly with how the Niners wanted to attack tonight. Garoppolo went 20-for-29 for 228 yards and four touchdowns. Jimmy had a 53 percent success rate, while 43 percent of his throws went for first downs or touchdowns. That’s impressive. But so were the run-after-catch skills and the efficiency from the offense in general. None of this happens without the offensive line giving Garoppoo time.
George Kittle had 84 receiving yards, Christian McCaffrey had 67, Deebo had 57, and Aiyuk caught two touchdowns. Elijah Mitchell closed the door on the ground in the second half with 59 rushing yards, and that’s how you finish a game with 6.8 yards per play.
The defense gave up a few big plays, including some in garbage time, but pitched another shutout in the second half. The 49ers have outscored their opponents 53-0 in three games in the second half. Arizona turned it over twice, including a couple of third downs. San Francisco had three sacks. Everything was rolling.
The 49ers are in first place in the NFC West. And they looked like a first-place team tonight.