We figured the 49ers' defense would come out and execute after giving up over 30 points to Jarrett Stidham and the Raiders a week ago. Well, two plays in, and it was deja vu.
Fourth-string quarterback David Blough heaved a prayer into the sky on a pass intended for A.J. Green. The 49ers had Deommodore Lenoir and Tashaun Gipson in position, but Lenoir failed to make a play on the ball, and Green raced to the end zone for a 77-yard touchdown.
The 49ers only needed six plays on their opening possession to find the end zone. The drive was highlighted by a 26-yard catch and run by Kyle Juszczyk, who made a nifty move to avoid a defender. Then, Christian McCaffrey scored on a screen pass from 21 yards out, thanks to some excellent blocking.
Each team would punt on their ensuing drive. Brock Purdy had Brandon Aiyuk streaking open over the middle of the field. Aiyuk had to go full “Super Man” and dive but could not hold on to the catch through the ground.
Purdy took a 17-yard sack after attempting to outrun Isaiah Simmons, a player that runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. That was a rookie mistake we’re not used to seeing and a teachable moment for Mr. Irrelavant.
DeMeco Ryans began to dial up the pressure against Blough, which helped the defense settle in. Nick Bosa would have added to his sack total had he not been tackled by the waist. Instead, Bosa would log his 18.5 sack of the season in the second quarter.
The offense would find the end zone before Bosa’s league-leading sack. Blough threw an errant pass that ended up as a gift to Tashaun Gipson. The offense scored in three plays after Elijah Mitchell scored from five yards out.
That wouldn’t be the last score of the second quarter, though. The Cardinals converted on 3rd & 14, then again on 3rd & 11 before eventually punching it in from one yard out. A touchdown and extra point brought the game to 14-13.
So, after looking like they were settling in, Blough and Arizona marched 12 plays, including a pair of third and long conversions and a 75-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown.
The offense took over with more than four minutes to play. Brandon Aiyuk picked up 22 yards, and just like that, San Francisco was in Arizona’s territory. Purdy found Kittle for his tenth touchdown of the season for a finger-tip grab in the back of the end zone to give the 49ers a 21-13 lead headed into halftime.
Brandon Aiyuk went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career early in the third quarter. He’s earned the WR1 tag, and it’s nice to see Aiyuk rewarded in the stat sheet.
Just when you thought the 49ers would punt, Christian McCaffrey picked up 19 yards on a 3rd & 17. That’s a little payback from earlier. The 49ers made the most of their second chance as Elijah Mitchell raced 37 yards before scoring from six yards out to give the 49ers a 28-13 lead.
Gipson caught another lousy throw from Blough for his fifth interception of the season. Gipson became the team leader in interceptions. Five was the most interceptions by a 49er defensive back since Tramaine Brock in 2013.
The turnovers weren’t down there. Jordan Willis had a sack-fumble to give the 49ers another short field. Mason appeared to have scored his second rushing touchdown, but the call was overturned. Kittle scored on a pass from Purdy from one yard out to give the Niners a 38-13 lead.
After both teams scored on their opening possessions, the 49ers outgained the Cardinals 244 to 99 through the third quarter, including 20 more first downs and winning the turnover battle three to zero.
The starters were pulled to start the fourth quarter with the game in hand and the Eagles up big. It was the tenth win in a row for the 49ers and the first time they’ve won ten games in a row to finish the season.
Now, we wait for the winner of tonight’s game between the Packers and Lions to see who visits Santa Clara next weekend.