Earning His Keep- Vernon Davis earned his paycheck Sunday. Davis had a personal best 180 yards receiving with two touchdowns as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 32-20 at Candlestick Park Sunday. The 49ers with the win captured their third straight game and improved their season mark to 4-2, while NFC West foe Arizona fell to 3-3. Davis’ two touchdowns proved to be the difference in the game after the 49ers had been given huge opportunities by their defense to take early control of the game, only to end up settling for two Phil Dawson field goals. Colin Kapernick statistically had a better day than a week ago completing 16 of 29 passes for 252 yards. Frank Gore overall had a good day running the ball picking up 101 yards on 25 carries.
Missed Opportunities- Three times in the first 19 minutes of the game the 49ers had red zone opportunities that ended up going by the boards. The first two came as the result of interceptions from Carlos Rogers and Eric Reid off of Cardinals Quarterback Carson Palmer. In each of these series the 49ers just were not able to get the ball into the end zone thanks in part to an Arizona pass defense that hung over the 49ers receiving corps like a cheap suit. The Cardinals corners knocked away passes intended for Anquon Boldin and Davis that could have resulted in scores. After the second Dawson field goal the 49ers had a 6-0 lead. However not too long afterward the 49ers would learn just how quick a six point lead can disappear in the NFL. On Arizona’s third play from scrimmage after Dawson’s second field goal, Palmer would find Larry Fitzgerald open and throw him a slant pass that he caught in between Tramaine Brock and Reid. Fitzgerald then turned around and had nothing but 75 yards of daylight and took off for a touchdown that gave Arizona a 7-6 lead. On the 49ers next possession Kaepernick would lead the 49ers downfield on a nice drive that would carry over into the second quarter and go as far as the Cardinals two-yard line. On a third down play Kaepernick rolled out to his right and tried to hit Bruce Miller for what would have been a touchdown pass, however instead the ball was intercepted on the one yard line by the Cardinals' Yeremiah Bell after being tipped by Karlos Dansby. Despite the third missed opportunity here the 49ers would find themselves taking the lead three plays later when Corey Lemonier would sack Palmer in the end zone resulting in a safety which gave the 49ers an 8-7 lead.
A Track Meet Breaks Out- After the 49ers took a free kick from the Cardinals the offense would get back to work again from their own 29 yard line. After a 10 yard run by Frank Gore, Kaepernick took advantage of the Cardinals jumping offside giving him a free play. Kaepernick made the most of it and aired out the football hitting Davis in stride downfield for a 61 yard touchdown strike that gave the 49ers a 15-7 lead. However this jubilation of this moment would be short lived as the Cardinals on their next possession returned the favor. Palmer and the Cardinals took the ensuing kickoff and would drive 80 yards in three plays. After a 12 yard pass play to Rob Housler, Palmer on the next play completed a 53 yard pass to Brittian Golden to set up Arizona very nicely at the 49ers 15 yard line. The Cardinals from there just needed one play as Andre Ellington would run past NaVorro Bowman, Brock and the rest of the 49ers defense into the end zone to make it a one point game again at 15-14. After the two teams changed possessions the 49ers would have another shot starting from their own 42 to put together a scoring drive before the end of the half. After completing two passes to Miller and Davis on successive plays to get the ball to the Arizona 38, Kaepernick again unloaded a pass downfield that again hit Davis in perfect stride and gave the 49ers a 22-14 lead that would carry over into halftime.
A Cardinal Serge- The second half did not start off too well for the 49ers. After they took the opening kickoff of the second half on their own five yard line the 49ers went three and out on their first series. Arizona would gain possession of the ball on their own 39 yard line after an Andy Lee punt. From here the Cardinals would embark on a nine play 61 yard drive that only saw one third down the entire way downfield. With a first and goal on the 49ers 10, Palmer would find Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass hitting him in the right corner of the end zone. The Cardinals down by two would try to tie the game on the conversion try, however a half back option play failed keeping the 49ers in front. The next 49ers series it also would fizzle out despite a 32 yard run by Gore to get things started. From midfield Lee would punt the ball back to Arizona who would again start another drive from their own 20. Again the Cardinals would challenge the 49ers with a steady diet of quick slant plays that would lead them down to the San Francisco 31. On the 11th play of the drive Palmer would hit Fitzgerald with a pass at the 49ers 23 yard line. Fitzgerald was met by Patrick Willis and Reid. As Willis was bringing down Fitzgerald, Reid managed to get in and strip the football loose. The ball would hit the back of Reid's leg and squirt forward 12 yards before he was able to chase it down and recover it. The 49ers finally had their big defensive play of the game forcing a timely turnover when it was most needed to stop another Arizona drive. What the 49ers would do next would extend into the 4th quarter and have an ultimate impact on the game.
Just What the Doctor Ordered- Once the 49ers gained possession of the football after Fitzgerald's fumble they needed to make the most of the opportunity given them with the game on the line. The 49ers would do here exactly what the doctor had ordered, a nice long time consuming drive that would result in points. The 49ers would embark on an 18 play drive that consumed 9:32 of the play clock. During the sequence the 49ers would convert on third down four times after just having done it twice through three quarters, and even converted a fourth and one after just narrowly missing the first down on the play before with a Kaepernick 9 1/2 yard pass to Davis. Key plays in the drive were third down pass completions to Bolden and Kyle Williams. On the 18th play of the drive Kendall Hunter scored on a six yard scamper to give the 49ers some breathing room at 29-20. As Hunter scored, he was greated by Tyrann Mathieu who proceeded to body slam Hunter to the turf. Because of offsetting personal fouls, Mathieu was not ejected from the game however the 49ers touchdown stood. The Cardinals on their next possession fumbled the ball away again on their second play from scrimmage allowing the 49ers to eat up more of the clock and ice the game with Dawson's third field goal of the day.
49ers Offensive Woes- Yes, the 49ers did win and they scored 32 points. However in the early part of the game the 49ers certainly had their chances to get off to a much bigger lead and did not execute either chance as they could have. You do have to give credit to the Cardinals defense, however at the same time it just seemed as if the 49ers were out of sync on both of those opportunities and tried to do too much to quickly. The 49ers need to take a look at these two series Monday and see where they can make some adjustments to better help the offense when they have that situation before them. The offensive line perhaps needed to block a little better in the early going. The good news is that these are fixable things the 49ers just need to work on. It ultimately did not cost them the game but it let Arizona hang around just long enough to make much of they day very interesting.
Next 49ers Game- The 49ers next Sunday travel to Music City, aka Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Titans. The Titans are lead offensively by former Buffalo Bills Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who has replaced the injured Jake Locker. The Titans feature Chris Johnson, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and former 49er Delany Walker. Kickoff is at 1:05pm PT (3:05pm CT in Nashville) and it will be carried on FOX.
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