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The 49ers started the season off with a thud in a 23-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals today at Candlestick Park. Things could have been worse as the 49ers turned the ball over five times in the loss. After a close half that was tied 10-10, Arizona dominated the time of possession battle in the second half, only letting the 49ers go on offense twice.
Although the 49ers were on the short end of the stick today, the 49er offense looked able to sustain drives in the new offense, highlighted by Frank Gore's 41-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. J.T. O'Sullivan had a respectable performance going 14-of-20 and passed for 195 yards, however his two fumbles and interception put a damper on his effort today.
For most of the game, the Cardinals had great field position backing the 49er defense against the wall. Arizona failed to convert on many of those opportunities, keeping the game close in the first half. However, that would not be the case in the second half. Drive after drive, the Cardinals ate up clock playing keep away with the 49er offense.
Despite the few positives that can be taken from this game, 49er fans are starting to get impatient with this team. Mike Nolan came in four years ago to turn this team around but all he has done is contribute to the losing ways that the 49ers are now associated with.
This is a make or break year for Nolan and starting the season off poorly will not help in easing 49er fans that this is the year it all turns around. Nolan's days are numbered in San Francisco because game after game and Nolan gives the same excuses to the same problems. Well, there's always Mike Martz to take over if Nolan is canned after this year.
Speaking of Martz, the offense actually looked credible during the course of the game. Looks like they made the right call by naming J.T. O'Sullivan the starter considering he put up some pretty good numbers in today's game. Frank Gore rushed for 96-yards and caught four passes for 55-yards ala Marshall Faulk.
Defensively, the 49ers actually displayed some resemblance of a pass rush, sacking Kurt Warner three times. However, the defense was once again on the field for long periods of time. Although the 49er defense played well, it wasn't enough today against Arizona. Newcomer Justin Smith showed versatility today by lining up in many different positions. He played defensive end, defensive tackle, and put constant pressure on the quarterback.
The 49ers have been on a downward spiral for many years with no end in sight. This is a far cry from what the winning tradition that Bill Walsh brought to this club many years ago. Since letting Steve Mariucci go, the 49ers have not had a winning season. After today's outing, it doesn't look good.
To makes things worse, back up quarterback Alex Smith's career looks to be over in San Francisco after suffering another potential season ending injury. This is very unfortunate for Smith and the 49er fans that still support him. Looks like he is a bust.
Bryant Johnson did not look like a bust with his three catch 48-yard performance. The former Arizona Cardinal third receiver played well against his former team and gave the 49er fans some indication of hope from the wide receivers. However, Isaac Bruce was held without a catch for only the seventh time in his career.
Season openers are supposed to be an exciting time for a team but today was an exception. Inconsistent play marred both sides of the ball as Arizona took control of the game easily, without much of a fight. Is this what we can expect for the rest of the season? I truly hope not because the 49ers literally dropped the ball.