The 49ers are a sloppy football team.
As has been the case throughout much of this season, the 49ers were their own worst enemy. Fumbles after big gains from George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk took potential points away from the 49er offense
After losses to the teams ahead of them in the race for the final playoff spot in the NFC earlier in the day, San Francisco (3-5) went out and fumbled away a golden opportunity, losing to the Arizona Cardinals 31-17.
The mistakes weren’t limited to the offense. Extending drives with penalties has been a problem for the 49ers defense all season, and it bit them again today. In the first quarter Arik Armstead came up with a sack of Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy, however he was called for a facemask penalty, giving Arizona a first down. Arizona would cash in on the opportunity with a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead only two plays later.
Arizona came into this game without quarterback Kyler Murray, starting wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green and lost starting running back Chase Edmonds after their first possession. None of that mattered however as the Arizona offense would overpower the 49ers defense on its way to 437 yards.
Here are the answers to the five questions I asked on Saturday.
1. Can Jimmy Garoppolo back up his performance against Chicago? NO
Garoppolo was anything but the problem in this game for San Francisco, completing 28 of 40 passes for 326 yards with two touchdowns and an interception which came late in the game. This marked the first time since Garoppolo’s first season with San Francisco in 2017 that he threw for 300 or more yards in back-to-back games.
In the first half Garoppolo had the 49ers offense moving, however fumbles by George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk in Arizona territory ended scoring opportunities.
Garoppolo would bounce back late in the first half, leading the offense on a nine play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a touchdown throw to Kittle to pull within 10.
In the second half the game was put out of reach early when Arizona scored a touchdown on their opening possession. After a quick three and out, Arizona would score again, and the 49ers offense became one dimensional.
2. Can the 49ers take advantage of the Arizona run defense? NO
The 49ers ran the ball a total of 11 times and gained only 39 yards on the ground. Against the second worst run defense in the league.
The 49ers offense opened the game by throwing on nine of its first 11 plays, and never really tried to get it going. In the first half the 49ers ran 26 offensive plays, only eight of them were rushing attempts. By the time they got the ball for the first time in the second half they were down by 17 points and running the ball became an afterthought.
3. How will the return of George Kittle impact the 49ers offense? Good and Bad
While Kittle’s numbers look good, 6 receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown, his fumble to open the 49ers second possession of the game was a sign of things to come for the 49er’s offense.
Kittle was expected to make an impact with his blocking as well, however Kyle Shanahan’s game plan from the start was pass heavy and they never tried to get the running game going.
4. Who will be the quarterback for Arizona? Colt McCoy
Kyler Murray was held out due to an ankle injury, giving the start to Colt McCoy. The backup quarterback completed 22 of 26 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown.
This is nothing new for McCoy. In his first start last season he led the New York Giants to a win in Seattle.
The scary part for the 49ers is they’ve been shredded in back-to-back weeks by McCoy and Justin Fields. It’s kind of scary to think what might happen when they face Matthew Stafford next week.
5. Can the 49ers offense hold onto the football? NO
On this day it was the 49ers receivers that could not hold onto the ball. First it was George Kittle fumbling after a gain of 18 yards on the first play of the 49ers second possession. The ensuing Arizona drive would result in a touchdown.
Two possessions later, the 49ers drove the ball deep into Arizona territory only to have Brandon Aiyuk fumble after a gain of 18 yards. This time the Cardinals would drive down for a field goal and a 17-0 lead.
Jimmy Garoppolo would add a late interception with the game already over.
Even good teams won’t win many games when they turn the ball over as often as the 49ers have this season. It doesn’t appear that the 49ers are a good team.