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"There were positive signs," said San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick following his team's eighth-straight loss. "You know, our defense played well today. They came out, they had a lot of turnovers, gave us opportunities to score."
If you compare the 49ers defense against the Arizona Cardinals to the historically bad defense through the team's seven previous losses, you might be able to say that they played well. They finally ended their streak of 100-yard rushing performances by running backs. The streak ended at an NFL record seven straight. David Johnson, who rushed for 157 yards against the 49ers defense on October 6, was held to just 55 yards on Sunday. The rest of the Cardinals offense had 388 total yards for a grand total of 443.
Still, the bleeding may have temporarily stopped for the 49ers defense. Going into Week 10, they were on pace to allow over 3,088 yards rushing for the season. That would have been the most in the NFL since the 1978 Buffalo Bills. The 49ers defense was allowing 193 yards per game going into their contest against the Cardinals. That number ballooned to 211 yards per game if you threw out their Week 1 victory over the Los Angeles Rams when they allowed just 65 yards on the ground.
Now, after allowing just 80 rushing yards to the Cardinals, the 49ers are on pace to allow 2,887 rushing yards this season. Still not good, but certainly better than allowing over 3,000. 443 total yards was the least allowed since the team's last meeting with Arizona (288) when quarterback Carson Palmer didn't play. It was the seventh time this season that the 49ers have allowed a team to surpass 400 yards of total offense.
Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil's defense is on pace to allow 6,875 total yards of offense this season and is on pace to allow over 500 points by opponents.
Forcing four turnovers was progress, though. "I thought we did a good job on offense, had some opportunities and took advantage of them," Kaepernick said. "There's still room for us to grow, 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."
The 49ers' eight straight losses match the same streak from San Francisco's 2007 squad. The last time the 49ers lost nine straight? You have to go back a lot further to 1978. Their next opponent will be the New England Patriots at Levi's Stadium on November 20.