Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports


Recap: 49ers lose too many gambles on offense in 17-10 loss to Cardinals

Oct 10, 2021 at 4:30 PM--


The San Francisco 49ers got a standout effort from their defense against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but the offense fell short on too many opportunities to come out of the desert with an upset win.

Four turnovers on downs along with an interception from quarterback Trey Lance that led to a touchdown proved to be too much for the 49ers to overcome as they fell 17-10 to the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Lance finished with 192 yards on 15-of-29 passing with 89 yards on 16 carries. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 239 yards on 22-of-31 passing with one touchdown and zero interceptions.

First Half

The 49ers began the game on offense and moved into Cardinals territory after a 14-yard run from Lance and a 16-yard completion to fullback Kyle Juszczyk. But their early momentum was quickly halted when Lance was picked off at the 17-yard line by safety Budda Baker, who gave the Cardinals possession at their own 34-yard line after a 17-yard return. The Cardinals promptly marched 66 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead on a one-yard run from James Conner.


The 49ers began their second possession at their own 25-yard line after a touchback, then moved inside Cardinals territory once again with the help of a 17-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Robert Alford and a 14-yard completion from Lance to Elijah Mitchell. But the Cardinals stiffened on defense once the 49ers got inside the 40 and forced the first turnover on downs after a fourth down run by Lance fell short at the 33-yard line.

The third possession of the game for the 49ers ended in a similar fashion to the second, albeit after a much lengthier drive. The 49ers took over on offense at their own 6-yard line after holding the Cardinals to a three-and-out, then moved to the Arizona 5-yard line in nine plays to set up a 1st-and-Goal. Two incompletions and a four-yard run later, Lance attempted to score from one yard out but was stopped just short of the goal line, forcing a turnover on downs after a 13-play, 93-yard drive.


The Cardinals answered the 49ers' lengthy drive with one of their own that saw them move inside the 49ers' 10-yard line in ten plays. The 49ers defense held the Cardinals out of the end zone, forcing them to settle for a 21-yard field goal from kicker Matt Prater to open up a 10-0 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the half. The drive featured a dazzling fingertip catch by wide receiver Rondale Moore that moved the Cardinals across midfield and into the red zone.


A three-and-out from the 49ers followed Prater's field goal, then the Cardinals took over at their own 30-yard line with 3:44 remaining in the half. The Cardinals moved into field goal range with 30 seconds on the clock, but a sack from Nick Bosa drove them back towards midfield. The Cardinals eventually attempted a 61-yard field goal with one second on the clock, which sailed wide right.


Lance finished the half with 63 yards and one interception on 5-of-11 passing while also leading all rushers with nine carries for 47 yards. The Cardinals outgained the 49ers 186 to 142 in the half while holding a time of possession edge of 15:48 to 14:12 and a 13-9 edge in first downs.

Second Half

The 49ers held the Cardinals to a three-and-out to start the half but couldn't establish momentum on their first possession, which was a penalty-filled drive that lasted ten plays but moved just 18 yards. They got the ball back after another three-and-out, then finally put some points on the scoreboard after a six-play, 59-yard drive. A 26-yard catch from wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk early in the drive combined with a personal foul penalty on Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones put the 49ers deep inside Cardinals' territory, then wide receiver Deebo Samuel ran in from 13 yards out four plays later to cut the score to 10-7.


The 49ers' defense continued to shine on the next possession by forcing another Cardinals punt after six plays, then the offense took over at their on 20-yard line after a touchback. Seven plays later the 49ers faced a 4th-and-1 at the Cardinals' 48-yard line, which head coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for by having Juszczyk take the snap from under center and dive for the first down. Shanahan's gamble fell short, but the defense stepped up once again two plays later when cornerback Dontae Johnson stripped the ball from running back Chase Edmonds, which he recovered to give the ball back to the 49ers at their own 46-yard line with 8:39 remaining in the game.

The good fortune didn't last long for the 49ers, who four plays later once again found themselves in a fourth down situation at the Cardinals' 48-yard line. Shanahan chose to go for a first down once again, but Lance's pass on the 4th-and-4 play fell incomplete, resulting in the fourth turnover on downs of the game for the 49ers. The Cardinals responded quickly this time, going 52 yards in five plays to stretch their lead to 17-7 on a 9-yard strike from Murray to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.


The 49ers got some quick points on their next possession, moving 46 yards in six plays to add a 47-yard field goal from kicker Joey Slye to cut the deficit to 17-10 with 4:12 remaining. But the Cardinals were able to string together enough first downs on their next drive to run out the clock and seal the win.

The loss was the third in a row for the 49ers, who now head into a bye week before returning to the field on October 24 for a home prime time game against the Indianapolis Colts (8:20 p.m. ET/5:20 p.m. PT, NBC). The Cardinals will be back in action next Sunday in a road contest against the Cleveland Browns (4:05 p.m. ET/1:05 p.m. PT).



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