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The Setup
Niners were NFC Super Bowl contenders last season. Cards started slow, but came on strong during the second half of the season to wind up with 5 wins. CW among Cardinal observers centers on how much rookie QB Kyler Murray will develop from Year 1 to Year 2.

Cards Hang Around Long Enough to Earn a 24 - 20 win

The Bottom Line:
Questions coming into the current season - Would we be tougher against the run? Will the defense play better together as a team? Has Kyler Murray become a "smarter" QB? Was Hopkins worth the trade of David Johnson? Will our pass blockers protect Murray better? Is our defense more prodiuctive on third downs? Will Juscyzch continue to burn us? (The answer: "Yes"). Is Simmons as good as they say he is? Will Vance Joseph be more creative in deploying Simmons?

Cards started out slowly. The first quarter ookie "whiff" on Mostert by Simmons was all we feared. Our offense looked lethargic and too close-to-the-vest.

Play by Play Log From Grant Cohn – SI (All49ers Blog)

Here are the 49ers inactives:

1. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
2. Center Ben Garland.
3. Cornerback Jason Verrett.
4. Defensive Lineman Kentavius Street.
5. Linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.
6. Quarterback C.J. Beathard

Here are the Cardinals inactives:

1. Running Back Eno Benjamin 
2. Quarterback Brett Hundley 
3. Offensive Lineman   Josh Jones 
4. Offensive Lineman Josh Miles 
5. Safety   Deionte Thompson

Jimmy Garoppolo is missing his starting center, backup center, starting right guard and both starting wide receivers. He will face intense pressure, lots of blitzes and press-man coverage on the outside. The Cardinals will try to jam the 49ers backup wide receiver at the line of scrimmage and may have success. Could be tough to throw, so it's imperative the 49ers run the ball well.

The 49ers apparently intend to start Hroniss Grassu at center and Daniel Brunskill at right guard, meaning Tom Compton will be on the bench. Can't say I blame the 49ers. Compton was just awful during training camp. Still, Grassu struggled as well. The 49ers could have major issues in the middle of the offensive line.

Jimmy Garoppolo is wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee.

Cardinals win the toss and defer.

1:29  On fourth and 3 from the Cardinals 34-yard line, Robbie Gould makes a 52-yard field goal, and the 49ers lead 3-0. Garoppolo threw two passes to George Kittle during that drive and completed both. He also handed off the ball three times to Raheem Mostert who gained 10 yards. The 49ers didn't try anything exotic during that series. Either they're saving the tricky stuff for later, or the game plan is conservative. I'd go with a conservative game plan if I were the head coach. The 49ers can beat the Cardinals with the basics.
49ers 3, Cardinals 0.

1:36 On third and 20 from the Cardinals 25, Kyler Murray completes a screen pass to Larry Fitzgerald, and Jaquiski Tartt tackles him after a gain of just 10 yards. The Cardinals fell behind the chains when Murray committed an intentional-grounding penalty. The 49ers take over at their 24-yard line after the punt by Andy Lee.

1:40 In the first play of the drive, Jimmy Garoppolo changes the play at the line of scrimmage and throws a short pass over the middle to Raheem Mostert, who runs through the Cardinals defense untouched for a 75-yard touchdown. I'm so excited to watch Mostert play football again. He ran a simple Texas route to perfection. He seriously improved his route-running this offseason. (Ed Note - Anncrs pointed out that rookie Isaiah Simmons "bit" and allowed Mostert to get free on a slant route.z
49ers 10, Cardinals 0.

1:44 On third and 7, Murray throws a deep incomplete pass up the right sideline to Christian Kirk. Emmanuel Moseley had great coverage. The Cardinals go three and out. They look like they haven't played preseason games. On third and 7, the 49ers played man-to-man coverage and Sherman followed DeAndre Hopkins to the right side of the defense. Good coaching by the 49ers.

1:49 On third and 5 from the 49ers 36, Garoppolo sails a sideline pass to Trent Taylor and almost gets intercepted, but Taylor reaches up and tips the pass away. The 49ers punt.

1:49 The Cardinals block the punt as Dontae Johnson blocks no one. The Cardinals recover at the 49ers 10-yard line.

1:50:  On first and goal from the 10, Murray throws a touchdown pass to Chase Edmonds, who dives and touches the pylon with the football.
49ers 10, Cardinals 7.

1:57: First play of the drive, Daniel Brunskill gives up a seven-yard sack to Angelo Blackson. Two plays later on third and three, Garoppolo overthrows a deep pass to Jerick McKinnon running a wheel route.

2:02 On third and 10, Murray scrambles for one yard. The 49ers are giving up just 3.4 yards per play. Elite.

2:03: Dante Pettis fields the punt and doesn't fumble. Wow. Niners start from their 38.

2:13: The 49ers cruise to the red zone, but then stall. On second and goal from the 10, Kittle commits a false start. On second and 12, Garoppolo holds the ball for a month and takes a sack. On third and 17, Jerick McKinnon runs for 16. And on fourth and 1 from the 1, Mostert gains no yards. The Cardinals take over at their 1-yard line.

2:15:  The 49ers are challenging the play. The officials uphold their ruling. Turnover on downs.

2:25: Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez misses a 52-yard field-goal attempt wide right. The 49ers get the ball at their 42-yard line with 7:28 left in the first half.

2:30: On third and 9 from the Cardinals 36, Jerick McKinnon drops a pass that's behind him, and the 49ers punt. The Cardinals take over at their 14. The 49ers are not 0-for-5 on third down and 0-for-2 in the red zone. They're missing their starting wide receivers big time.

2:37 On first and 10 from the Cardinals 42, Dre Greenlaw tips Murray's pass and Jaquiski Tartt picks it off. Niners take over at Arizona's 26.

2:44 On third and six from the Cardinals 8-yard line, Garoppolo throws a four-yard pass to Trent Taylor. Next play, Robbie Gould makes a 24-yard field goal and gives the 49ers a 13-7 lead. George Kittle appeared to injure his left knee during the second-to-last play of the drive (after a decleating tackle by Budda Baker). He jogged off the field, and trainers are checking him out.
49ers 13, Cardinals

2:49: Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez makes a 56-yard field goal as the first half ends. The Cardinals will get the ball when the third quarter starts.
49ers 13, Cardinals

3:12: On third and 10 from the 49ers 31, Jimmie Ward blitzes and knocks down Murray's pass. Then Zane Gonzalez misses his second field-goal attempt of the day. He's 1-for-3. The 49ers take over at their 39-yard line.

3;17: 49ers go three and out. Garoppolo took a sack on second and 8, and sailed a pass to Bourne on third and eight. The 49ers are now 0 for 7 on third down.

3:25: On third and 7 from the Cardinals 48, Murray throws deep and behind Hopkins, and the Cardinals punt. The 49ers will take over at their 7-yard line. The defense has played quite well today. The offense has not, but there's still a quarter and a half left.

3:33: On third and 3 from the 49ers 43, Garoppolo throws a short pass to Tevin Coleman, but it's broken up, so the 49ers punt. The Cardinals take over at their 6. No targets for Kittle since he appeared to hyper extend his left knee.

3:42: Kyler Murray completes an 18-yard pass to Hopkins on the final play of the third quarter. The Cardinals have first and 10 and their 41 when the fourth quarter starts.

3:50: On second and 9 from the 49ers 23-yard line, Murray scrambles for a touchdown. Kwon Alexander was spying him but got blocked out of the play. The 49ers need a better QB spy. The Cardinals just took their first lead.
Cardinals 17, 49ers 13.

3:51: Richie James Jr. is out with a hamstring injury.

4:00: On third and goal from the five, Garoppolo completes a pass to McKinnon in the left flat, and he walks into the end zone. (I thought I heard an anncr question out loud whether Simmons was responsiblefor covering McKinnon on the play).
49ers 20, Cardinals 17

4:08: On second and 10 from the 49ers 38, Murray completes a pass to a wide-open Hopkins, who runs through the defense for a touchdown. Kwon Alexander was out of bounds when Hopkins caught the ball. Rough game for Alexander. The officials are reviewing the play.

4:10 The officials reverse their ruling. Hopkins was down at the half-yard line. First and goal.

4:11: Kenyan Drake falls into the end zone on first and goal. Cardinals take the lead again.

4:25: On fourth and 5 from the Cardinals 16, Garoppolo throws a floater to the sideline intended for Trent Taylor, but Byron Murphy knocks it down. Turnover on downs. Cardinals take over with 30 seconds left.
49ers 20, Cardinals 24.

4:29: The Cardinals win. The 49ers are 0-1.

Scoring Summary:

First Quarter

Gould - 52 yd FG SF 3 - Cards 0

Mostert - 76 yd catch and run SF 10 - Cards 0

Edmonds 10 yd pass from Murray SF 10 - Cards 7

Second Quarter

Gould 24 yd FG SF 13 - Cards 7

Gonzalez 56 yd FG SF 13 - Cards 10

Third Quarter

No scoring

Fourth Quarter

Murray 20 yd run Cards 17 - SF 13

McKinnon 5 yd pass fr Garofollo SF 20 - Cards 17

Drake 1 yd run Cards 24 - SF 20

Final Score

Cards 24 - SF 20

Notable Game Stats.

  • First Downs Cards 29 - SF 18
  • Passing: Murray 26 for 40, 230 Yds 1 TD, 1 Int
    ................Garoppolo 19 for 133, 259 yds, 2 TDs 0 Int

    Sacked By: Cards 3 - Niners 2

    Rushing: Murray 13 for 91...Drake 16 for 60, Edmonds 6 for26
    ................Mostert 15 for 56, McKinnon 3 for 24 Coleman 4 for 18

    Receiving: Hopkins 14 for 16 & 151, Fitgwerald4 for 5 & 34, Kirk 1 for 5 & 0
    .................. Mostert 4 for 5 & 95 & 1 TD, Kittle 4 for 5 & 44, Bourne 2 for 5 & 34, McKinnon 3 for 5 & ..................20 & 1 TD, Taylor 2 for 5 & 7.

    Interceptions - Cards - 0... Niners - 0

    Fumbles Lost - Cards 0...-Niners 0 for 0

    Penalties - Cards 9 for 102 - Niners 5 for 53

    Time of Possession: Cards 31:23 - Niners 28:37

The "Bright Side"

  • We beat last year's NFC Super Bowl contender

    We "stuck around" long enough to stay in the game.. We could have folded, but kept things close enough to give us a fighting chance of winning the game.

    Hopkins is the real deal

    We rubbed off some of the rust in the 2H.

    Blackson made plays and was held his ground on a consistent basis

Bubba Baker played up to his clippings

The Cardinal secondary didn't give up too many big plays

The Dark Side

  • Simmons needs to work on being in the right place at the right time
  • Sooner or later - our slow starts will come back to bite us.
    We're thin in depth and talent at safety; (Thompson hurt, and we had to play Banjo)

Last Word:
The Pandemic afforded us little opportunity to figure out - from game footage or 11 on 11 drills "who the Cards were" as a team...and when the source of certain problems were from lack of athletic skills and when they were due to players not playing well as a team.

The Cards came out flat yesterday, but as soon as they settled down and stuck to fundamentals, they outplayed their opponent and went on to emerge as winners. Test for Cards - as they prepare for their next game vs the Washington Football Club - will be how well they break down tape and learn from their errors.

From this writer's perspective, I think we've upgraded our talent throughout the roster, but these guys willhave to become better at working together. As for Murray - there's still work to do, but he gets to do it witth a wideout who caught 14 passes Sunday,

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012