This is the live blog for the Niners Week 14 road game against the Arizona Cardinals. I will be updating this frequently from my living room.
11:53 Patrick Willis will not play today – he’s inactive because he pulled hamstring last sunday. Larry Grant will start next to NaVorro Bowman at inside linebacker in place of Willis.
Here are the rest of 49ers inactive players: Scott Tolzien, Brett Swain, Moran Norris, Daniel Kilgore, Mike Person, Ian Williams
And here are the Cardinals inactive players: QB Richard Bartel, WR Chansi Stuckey, WR Stephen Williams, WR Jaymar Johnson, S Kerry Rhodes, LB Joey Porter, OT D’Anthony Batiste
1:00 Patrick Willis’ pregame chant: “Hit on three! One, two, three, hit!”
1:01 The Cardinals win the toss and defer, so the Niners get the ball first for a change.
1:05 Ted Ginn Jr. return the kickoff from the back of the end zone to the SF 14 yard line.
1:06 On first down Frank Gore runs power to the right and picks up an easy eight yards.
1:06 Next play, Smith completes a pass to Kyle Williams over the middle for 6 yards and a first down.
1:07 Smith completes a short pass to Bruce Miller in the right flat for no gain.
1:08 On second down Gore gains just two. Third and eight.
1:09 The Cardinals show blitz up the middle and Adam Snyder flinches. False start. Third and 13.
1:09 Cardinals show blitz but rush just four, Smith throws high to Crabtree in double coverage a few yards shy of the first down marker. Incomplete. Lee punts 60 yards to Patrick Peterson and C.J. Spillman tackles him right away. Cardinals ball at their 13 yard line.
1:12 Gore was in and out of the lineup on that first Niners drive. He looks bothered by something. Can anyone tell what it is?
1:12 On first down Larry Grant tackles Beanie Wells after a a gain of two.
1:13 On second down Grant tackles King after a two yards completion. Ahmad Brooks had heavy pressure on Kolb.
1:14 On third and six Justin Smith hits Kevin Kolb from behind as he’s throwing. The refs call it an incomplete pass, but the Niners challenge the play, believing Kolb’s arm was not yet coming forward. It looks like this will be a good challenge. The call should be a fumble.
1:18 The refs reverse the call. It’s a fumble. The Cardinals recover at their 8 yard line and they punt. Ginn Jr. returns it 5 yards to the AZ 43.
1:21 The Cardinals blitz up the middle, Smith gets hit as he throws but he completes a pass to Ginn Jr. on an out to the right for seven yards.
1:22 On second down the Cardinals blitz again and Smith’s pass is batted down at the line of scrimmage.
1:23 On third down the Cardinals blitz once more, Kendall Hunter takes a pitch to the left and loses two yards. Fourth and five. Harbaugh calls timeout. Still no screen pass, Greg?
1:25 The Niners are going for it. The Cardinals rush four, Smith buys time in the pocket by stepping up and sliding to the right, he completes a pass to Hunter in the pass and he picks up nine yards. First down.
1:26 Gore runs power to the left and gains just two.
1:27 The Niners line up with seven on the line, the Cardinals blitz up the middle and sack Smith. Third and 15.
1:28 Adrian Wilson grabs Smith’s face mask when he hits him on a safety blitz. Negates a sack. First and ten at the AZ 27.
1:29 Cardinals blitz, Hunter runs off left tackle for one yard.
1:29 Hunter takes a pitch right, cuts back left and gains two. Third and seven.
1:30 Smith takes the snap from the shotgun, jogs to the right, holds on the ball too long and Patrick Peterson sacks him from behind on a corner blitz
1:31 David Akers makes a 46 yard field goal. 3-0 Niners with 4:39 left in the first quarter.
1:33 John Skelton will play quarterback for Kolb, who got kicked in the head by Ahmad Brooks.
1:34 David Akers kicks another touch back.
1:34 On first down Grant tackles Wells after three yards.
1:35 Skelton completes a short pass to Fitzgerald on the left for five yards. Tarell Brown had the coverage.
1:35 On third and two the Niners show blitz but only rush four, and Skelton throws behind Andre Roberts over the middle. Cardinals punt. Ginn Jr. calls for a fair catch at the SF 31.
1:38 On first down Gore takes a pitch to the right and gains 18. Iupati and Boone pulled, Walker was the lead blocker.
1:39 Smith calls the Niners second timeout of the first half.
1:40 Joe Staley has a head injury and will not return to this game.
1:40 Coming off a timeout, Alex Smith and the offense gets called for delay of game. What? First and 15.
1:41 Cardinals blitz, Hunter runs off left tackle and gains one.
1:41 Smith play fakes, rolls out to the right, gets hit after he throws but still gets a good throw off. Ginn Jr. can’t find the ball, and he lets it drop right in front of him. That should have been a touchdown. Third and 14.
1:42 Smith completes a short pass to Crabtree on a slant. Gain of seven. Fourth down.
1:43 Lee punts and the Niners down it at the one yard line. Spillman tipped it to Costanzo to prevent it from going into the end zone.
1:44 Bowman tackles Wells after a gain of two.
1:45 Skelton calls timeout with 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
1:46 Skelton throws to Fitzgerald on a quick slant and T. Brown plays the pass well, breaks the play up.
1:47 Skelton under throws and misses Early Doucet for a first down. Cardinals have to punt from their end zone. Ginn Jr. catches it at the SF 45 and returns it all the way to the AZ 4 yard line to make up for his blunder just a few minutes ago.
1:51 On first and goal Smith misses Edwards in the end zone.
1:51 On second and goal Gore runs up the middle for a loss of one.
1:52 On third and goal Smith tries to hit Gore on a wheel route, but it’s triple covered and the ball sails out of bounds.
1:53 David Akers makes a 22 yard field goal. 6-0 Niners.
1:51 On second and goal from the four Gore runs up the middle and loses a yard.
1:55 Akers kicks another touch back.
1:55 Skelton play fakes and hits Fitzgerald downfield for 17 yards. T. Brown got beat on the play.
1:56 Donte Whitner tackles Wells from behind for no gain. Second and ten.
1:57 Skelton completes a three yard pass to Wells in the flat and Grant tackles him immediately. Third and seven.
1:58 Bowman blitzes, Skelton avoids him and scrambles for the first down but Aldon Smith strips the ball from behind. Ray McDonald recovers it at the SF 42.
2:00 Screen! On first down Smith throws a screen to Hunter for ten yards.
2:01 Next play Smith gets sacked by Nick Eason who beat Goodwin for a loss of eight. Second and 18.
2:02 Smith throws low to Kyle Williams on a slant, but he makes a diving catch and picks up 10. Third and eight.
2:03 Smith throws to the other side to Crabtree on a slant, who beats Peterson and picks 10 yards and a first down.
2:03 Gore runs power left and loses three. Snyder couldn’t pull fast enough on that play. Second and 13.
2:04 Smith throws it up for Crabtree on the right sideline but he can’t run underneath it. Incomplete. Third and 13.
2:05 Anthony Davis gets called for a false start. Third and 18.
2:05 Cardinals blitz, Smith slips, gets up and completes an 11 yard pass to Kyle Williams. They’re back in Akers’ field goal range.
2:06 The Niners run a fake. Lee completes a pass to Jonathan Goodwin for a touchdown, but the play was blown dead because the Cardinals threw a challenge flag before Brian Jennings snapped the ball. They’re challenging whether Kyle Williams caught the pass on third down.
2:09 The replay technology isn’t working, so they’re redoing fourth down. The refs clearly blew their whistles after the Jennings snapped the ball.
2:10 Akers hooks the long field goal attempt wide right.
2:12 Skelton completes a pass over the middle to Doucet who runs all the way into the end zone for a touch down. He beat zone coverage from the slot, and Whitner missed a tackle downfield. 7-6 Cardinals with 7:10 left in the second quarter.
2:15 The Niners defense hasn’t allowed a TD since the Detroit game seven games ago.
2:15 Ginn Jr. returns the kickoff to the SF 22.
2:16 Smith completes a bubble screen to Walker, he cuts back to the left and loses six yards. Second and 16.
2:17 Gore runs power left and picks up four. Third and 12.
2:17 The Cardinals bring a heavy blitz up the middle and Smith completes a quick pass to Kyle Williams on a dig to the right, and he turns it upfield for a 14 yard gain and a first down.
2:18 Hunter runs up the middle for five. Second and five.
2:19 Smith completes it to Crabtree on a shallow cross, he turn upfield and picks up the first down. Gain of 15.
2:20 Smith hits on another crossing route, this time to Vernon Davis. Gain of 32. First and ten at the AZ 13.
2:20 Smith hands off to Kyle Williams on a end around, who stumbles a bit but still picks up seven.
2:21 Smith’s pass is tipped and almost intercepted by Sam Acho at the line of scrimmage but it falls incomplete. Third and three.
2:22 Smith play fakes and rolls left on a designed quarterback run. The Cardinals are not fooled and they tackle Smith for a three yard loss.
2:22 Akers hits a 27 yard field goal. 9-7 Niners.
Two Minute Warning
2:26 Another touchback for Akers.
2:27 Skelton completes a short pass to Chester Taylor on a screen and Justin Smith tackles him immediately after a two-yard gain.
2:27 Skelton throws high to Sampson, and Whitner hits him in the ribs. Incomplete. Third and six.
2:28 Whitner tips Skelton’s pass, Goldson picks it off and returns it to the AZ 16. Anthony Davis says something to Fitzgerald after the play.
2:29 On first down Smith gets flushed out of the pocket so he throws the ball away. Second and ten.
2:30 Smith play fakes and completes a short pass to Bruce Miller in the right flat. Gain of five. Third and five.
2:30 Smith completes a pass to Ginn Jr. on the left sideline for seven yards. First and goal at the 4.
2:32 Smith throws a fade to Ginn Jr. in the back right corner of the end zone but he can’t hang on to it.
2:32 Smith can’t find anyone to throw it to so he throws it out of bounds. With four seconds left Harbaugh brings on David Akers. He makes the 22-yarder. 12-7 Niners.
Alex Smith: 14 for 24, 145 yards, 4 sacks, 75.9 rating
Niners on third down: 3 for 11
Niners in red zone: 0 for 3
2:47 Touchback Akers.
2:48 Skelton avoids Aldon Smith and completes a pass to Fitzgerald downfield, but TE Jeff King gets flagged for holding. First and 20 at the AZ 10.
2:49 Now Todd Head false starts. First and 25 from the 5.
2:49 Justin Smith tackles Beanie Wells after a two-yard gain. Second and 23.
2:50 Skelton throws to Housler over the middle and Goldson blasts him as the ball gets there. Incomplete. Third and 23.
2:51 The Niners rush just three and still Aldon Smith gets to Skelton and sacks him at the 1. He now has 10.5 sacks on the season. Cardinals punt. Ginn Jr. catches it at the AZ 48 and returns it to the 37.
2:54 The Niners fake the fly sweep and Gore runs up the middle for a 37 yard touchdown. 19-7 Niners. Crabtree had the key block downfield.
2:57 Touchback Akers.
3:58 Grant tackles Stephens-Howling after a gain of four.
2:59 Culliver breaks up Skelton’s pass to Roberts, but Brooks’ gets called for a 15 yard pentalty for hitting Skelton in the knee. First and ten.
3:00 Skelton completes a 6-yard pass to King on the left sideline.
3:01 Bowman tackles Wells after one yard. Third and three.
3:01 Skelton completes a short pass over the middle to Doucet on a crossing route. Grant tackles him after a gain of four. First and ten at the SF 49.
3:02 Wells runs up the middle for three.
3:02 Skelton completes one over the middle to Fitzgerald. Goldson whiffs on the pick, and Fitzgerald runs to the end zone. 46 yard touchdown. 19-13 Niners. Goldson is down on the field injured.
3:05 Goldson walks off the field unassisted. Cardinals make the extra point. 19-14 Niners. Both Cardinals TDs come as a result of poor safety tackling.
3:06 Ginn Jr. returns the kickoff to the SF 19.
3:08 Gore runs up the middle for two.
3:08 Smith throws it off Edwards back on a dig route. He got out of his break way too slowly. Third and eight.
3:09 The Cardinals rush four and Smith throws low to Vernon Davis. Incomplete. Bad pass. Lee punts to Peterson who takes a fair catch at the AZ 35 yard line.
3:11 Reggie Smith is in at FS in place of Goldson.
3:12 Stephens-Howling takes a shuffle pass up the middle for an 18 yard gain. That’s the best run play you can call against this Niners D. Eagles should have used it more with McCoy.
3:13 Skelton completes a four yard pass to Stephens-Howling in the right flat. Second and six at the SF 47.
3:14 Whitner flips Wells at the line of scrimmage. Gain of one. Third and five.
3:14 Grant knocks Skelton’s pass to King away. Great coverage by Grant. He’s having a heck of a game. Cardinals punt. Ginn Jr. takes a fair catch at the 10 with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
3:17 Smith play fakes and floats a pass right to safety Adrian Wilson down the right sideline, but Crabtree knocks it away. Second and 10.
3:18 The Niners muff the fly sweep and Smith has to waste a timeout.
3:19 Hunter runs up the middle for two. Third and eight.
3:19 Smith completes a short pass to Crabtree on a crossing route over the middle for six. Fourth and two at the SF 18. Lee has to punt to Peterson.
3:20 Peterson fields Lee’s punt at the 20 and returns it to the AZ 33 before getting tackled by Blake Costanzo and Grant.
3:21 On first down Skelton completes a 15 yard pass to Fitzgerald on a deep dig down the left sideline. T. Brown was far off in coverage.
3:22 Aldon Smith tackles Beanie Wells after three. Second and seven,
3:23 Skelton steps up and scrambles for 14 yards and a first down. First and ten at the SF 35.
3:23 Skelton throws high over the middle and nobody catches it. Second and ten. Cardinals right tackle Brandon Keith limps off the field.
3:25 Skelton completes a screen to King for an eight yard gain. Third and two.
3:25 Skelton escapes an Aldon Smith sack, runs to the right and throws across the field high to Fitzgerald. The pass bounces off his hands and T. Brown dives and intercepts it. Niners ball at their 20. The Cardinals are challenging that Brown caught the ball.
3:27 The refs confirm their ruling of an interception.
3:29 Smith throws down the field for Walker. Adrian Wilson almost picks it off, but Rashad Johnson hits Walker with unnecessary roughness and that’s a 15 yard penalty. First and ten at their 34.
3:32 Hunter runs up the middle for five yards. Second and five.
3:32 The Cardinals rush five, Smith throws a nice pass deep down the right sideline for Crabtree, Peterson has tight coverage and Crabtree doesn’t get his hands up.
3:33 Smith rolls left, throws all the way across the field to an open Walker on the sideline in front of the first down marker but he drops it.
3:34 Lee punts to Peterson, who fields it at the 18 and gets tackled by Anthony Dixon after four yards at the 22.
3:35 Skelton completes a bubble screen to Fitzgerald. Gain of five. Second and five.
3:37 Skelton play fakes and hits Fitzgerald over the middle. He breaks one tackle and picks up 52 yards before finally getting dragged down by Whitner. Rogers got beat on the play. First and ten at the SF 20.
3:39 Skelton scrambles for four.
3:39 Wells runs up the middle for four. Third and two at the 12.
3:40 Skelton completes a screen to Doucet who picks up 9 yards. First and goal at the three.
3:40 Skelton completes a touchdown pass on a quick screen to Andre Roberts. He beat Rogers, who was giving a five-yard cushion on the play. Great red zone play call for the Cardinals, who lead 21-19 with 11:50 left in the fourth quarter.
3:44 Ginn Jr. takes the kickoff from the back of the end zone to the SF 27.
Smith’s QB Rating: 64.7
Skelton’s QB Rating: 104.7
3:46 On first down Gore runs off right tackle for two. Hunter subs in for him.
3:47 Hunter runs up the middle for six. Third and two.
3:47 Smith play fakes and throws ten yards too deep for Vernon Davis, who was being double covered by Peterson and Wilson.
3:48 Lee punts it to Peterson who fields it at the four and gets tackled at the 14 by Spillman and Culliver. 10:13 left in the fourth quarter.
3:51 Goldson tackles Wells after a gain of eight.
3:51 Brooks tackles Stephens-Howling behind the line of scrimmage for a gain of two. Great play by Brooks. Third and four.
3:52 Skelton completes a five yard pass to Roberts in front of Rogers. First and ten.
3:53 Goldson tackles Fitzgerald after an eight-yard completion.
3:53 Ricky Jean-Francois tackles Wells after one yard. Third and one.
3:54 The Cardinals call their second timeout of the second half. 6:41 left in the fourth quarter.
3:56 Wells runs up the middle for no gain. Preposterous play call for the Cardinals right there.
3:57 Ginn Jr. lets the punt roll into the end zone for a touchback.
3:58 On first down Alex Smith gets sacked by Darnell Dockett, who never actually tackled Smith, but the refs say forward progress was stopped.
3:59 On second and 16 Smith scrambles and hits Crabtree for a ten yard gain. Third and six.
4:00 The Cardinals blitz the right side of the Niners line, the O-line can’t pick it up, Smith’s arm is hit as he throws and the pass falls incomplete.
4:00 Lee punts to Peterson who fields it at the 16 and returns it 18 yards to the 34 before getting tackled by Grant.
4:01 Wells runs left and loses three.
4:02 Sopoaga tackles Wells for no gain. Third and thirteen. The Niners call their second timeout of the second half with 3:14 left.
4:03 Skelton completes a screen to Taylor who picks up 11 before getting tackled by Goldson. Fourth and two at the AZ 43 with 3:04 left in the fourth quarter.
4:04 Ginn Jr. returns the punt 25 yards to the SF 32.
4:05 On first down Smith completes a quick out to Crabtree for five yards. Crabtree goes out of bounds to stop the clock.
4:06 Vernon Davis gets flagged for a false start. Harbaugh whipes his hand over his face in disgust. Second and ten.
4:07 Smith completes a pass to Crabtree on a dig. Gain of nine. Third and one.
4:07 The Cardinals bring a heavy blitz up the middle, Smith throws off his back foot and the pass is batted down at the line of scrimmage.
4:08 Smith rolls left, right, then left again, steps up and throws to a wide open Kendall Hunter for a first down but he dropped the pass. Cardinals ball.
4:10 Skelton takes a knee. The Cardinals win 21-19.