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There were two minutes remaining in the game and the San Francisco 49ers found themselves in a familiar position – trailing an opponent. This time, it was against the Arizona Cardinals. The difference was that the 49ers were trailing by only a single touchdown and found themselves sitting at the Arizona 4-yard line. The ball was snapped, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick took it, and scrambled into the end zone to tie the game up 20-20.
That left the game in the hands of the 49ers defense, which has been on pace to be one of the worst in NFL history. The defense had allowed a 100-yard rushing performance in 7-straight games, which were all losses. However, in the desert, the 49ers held Cardinals RB David Johnson to under 100 yards. Johnson had 157 in the first meeting between the two teams. That was the second most yards obtained by a running back (Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints had 158) facing this 49ers defense.
What happened next was all too familiar to 49ers fans. Starting on their own 15-yard line, QB Carson Palmer led the Arizona offense down the field to allow K Chandler Catanzaro to win it 23-20 for the Cardinals.
Turnovers played a part in the close matchup. Arizona had four which helped keep San Francisco in the game. The 49ers forced and recovered a fumble in the first quarter. It was just their second takeaway in the last six games and the 49ers offense, like so many times this season, could do nothing with it, going 3-and-out.
While Johnson was unable to surpass 100 yards, he did his damage against the 49ers defense. He was responsible for the first two scores in this matchup. The first was a 3-yard touchdown reception from Palmer in the first quarter and the second was an 18-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, which gave Arizona a 14-point lead.
The 49ers finally got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter. Some confusion by the Arizona secondary allowed WR Jeremy Kerley to get open in the end zone, where Kaepernick hit him for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Two field goals gave the Cardinals a 20-10 lead going into halftime. While Johnson scored twice for the Arizona offense, the 49ers defense managed to hold him to just 33 yards in the first half.
|49ers Team Leaders|
49ers FS Eric Reid intercepted Palmer in the third quarter – his first interception since the 2014 season. The turnover gave the 49ers good field position, but back-to-back holding penalties ended up moving the offense back six yards before punting the ball back to Arizona.
With the Cardinals leading 20-13, the 49ers forced another turnover late in the game when ILB Gerald Hodges intercepted a Palmer pass. That led to the final drive by the 49ers that tied the game before the Cardinals would go on to win it.
|Penalties (Yds)||9 (100)||2 (10)|
|Punts (AVG)||7 (42)||4 (37)|
|Time of Pos.||27:42||32:18|
Colin Kaepernick passed for 210 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 55 yards on 10 carries and a score. Carlos Hyde carried the football just 13 times for 14 yards. Jeremy Kerley led the 49ers in receptions with seven for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Carson Palmer had his 3rd-straight 300-yard game and his 4th of the season. He ended up with 376 yards passing, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Johnson was held to 55 yards rushing for the Cardinals and a touchdown. That breaks the 49ers' historic streak of 100-yard rushers.
The 49ers' next opponent will be the New England Patriots on November 20 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
Notes and Quotes
After allowing an average of 193 rushing yards per game, the 49ers defense allowed just 80 rushing yards to the Cardinals. Of course, the Cardinals offense as a whole amassed 443 yards against the 49ers defense.
Head coach Chip Kelly said that he feels that Colin Kaepernick did a nice job against the Cardinals and continues to grow.
Was a 2-point conversion in the discussion following the 49ers' final touchdown score? "I did think about it, but the field goal still beats you," Kelly said.
"Our defense played well today," said Colin Kaepernick following the loss. That defensive unit allowed 443 total yards to the Cardinals offense.
"There's still room for us to grow," said Kaepernick. "There's still room for us to get better. There's still room for us to capitalize on things that we left on the field today."