After playing four of five games on the road, the San Francisco 49ers returned to play a homecoming game of sorts against the Arizona Cardinals.
The unanimous choice for homecoming king, newly acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, watched safely from the sidelines. But the script for the 49ers remained the same. The team fell victim to an injury bug that took safety Jaquiski Tartt, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, tight end Cole Hikutini, linebacker Elijah Lee, and wide receiver Trent Taylor out of the game.
Rookie tight end George Kittle played most of the game with a noticeable limp, and rookie linebacker Reuben Foster also aggravated his high ankle sprain.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed during his post-game press conference that Tartt broke his forearm and would probably end up on injured reserve.
The Cardinals brought a balanced offensive attack that the 49ers had trouble stopping. Despite picking off Cardinals' quarterback Drew Stanton and forcing the Cardinals to go three-and-out four times, running back Adrian Peterson found every gap in the defense. He finished the day rushing for 159 yards on 37 attempts.
Stanton found ways to carve up the 49ers' secondary, specifically rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. The Cardinals opened the game with a stutter-and-go to wide receiver John Brown. Later in the quarter, Witherspoon was the victim of Stanton's first touchdown pass. He found wide receiver Jaron Brown in the end zone as he was scrambling to the sidelines.
"I thought our defense gave us the chance to win that game," said Shanahan after the game.
Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, despite a tweak to his ankle, led all defenders with 13 tackles on the day. However, the 49ers defense could not get to Stanton and did not record a sack.
Shanahan continued to rely on the pass to try to win the game. Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard attempted 51 passes, but only completed 24 and threw an interception that bounced off of tackle Trent Brown's helmet. Beathard later commented that he was trying to throw the ball into the ground.
49ers' receivers also dropped some catchable passes that hurt or ended drives.
Beathard was able to push the ball downfield, including a 55-yard bomb to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin late in the first quarter. But due to a lack of run calls – the team attempted 17 rushes for 63 yards – Shanahan was forced to throw more than he wanted.
"They brought a lot of pressures," said head coach Kyle Shanahan. "We had to throw it way too much. A lot of time that had to do with pressures. A lot of time it had to do with miss blocks. And sometimes there wasn't anyone open downfield."
He further stated, "It didn't look like, offensively, any of us did very well."
Plagued by injury, the 49ers were forced to play a piecemeal offensive line that had trouble keeping Beathard upright. Veteran tackle Trent Brown switched from the right side to the left, which was his second career start at left tackle. Rookie Erik Magnuson started the game at right tackle.
At one point, center Daniel Kilgore came off the field and was replaced at center by Zane Beadles.
However, Beathard survived 16 hits and four sacks. Through three-and-a-half games, Beathard has suffered 16 sacks and 47 hits.
"I'm not afraid of getting hit," said C.J. Beathard. "That won't affect me. It never has. I'm tough. If I'm injured, I won't force myself in there."
Shanahan commented he was impressed that Beathard made it through the game. The quarterback also took a vicious hit to the head on a scramble, which led to a scuffle between the 49ers and Cardinals.
"I think our players had had enough," said Shanahan.
After the fight, officials ejected 49ers running back Carlos Hyde, Cardinals inside linebacker Haasan Reddick, and Cardinals defensive lineman Frostee Rucker.
"I didn't see Carlos throw a punch. I did see punches thrown at him," said Shanahan. "I really loved how he got our quarterback's back."
The 49ers (0-9) are at home next week against the New York Giants (1-7).
|2 (25)||Penalties (Yds)||8 (53)|
|6 (43)||Punts (Avg)||8 (42)|
|36:22||Time of Pos.||23:38|
|Cardinals Player Stats|
|49ers Player Stats|