The San Francisco 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals as they won their third straight game. The 32-20 score could have been worse if if wasn’t for some initial struggles in the red zone after the defense came up with a couple of big turnovers. This game was a total team effort. Each phase of the game did a good job of playing 49er football. The win was highlighted by an 18 play, nine minute drive that resulted in a six yard touchdown run by Kendall Hunter.
The fourth quarter drive by the 49ers is the kind that can set the tone for a team that is in need of getting back to their dominating play in the trenches. Alex Boone talked about the importance of such a drive. “This is a divisional game, it counts towards two. They have a great defense. To come out here and run the ball the way we did against this defense was a good job today. An overall team win. We got in the huddle and said guys we have to do something. We have to drive the ball. We have to get where we need to be. This team needs us.”
Jim Harbaugh was quick to say what it meant to see the offense take charge in a clutch game. “Huge win. We grinded some meat. Our players really toughed it out when they had to. Important third down conversions. Controlling the clock was huge. We knew it would be a tough ball game, tough running the ball.”
Colin Kaepernick and the passing game got back on track as he passed for 252 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an interception which was the result of Karlos Dansby tipping a pass intended for Bruce Miller in the end zone. Vernon Davis was unstoppable against the Cardinals. He felt that he was in the zone. “It’s one of those days. When you’re in a zone, you’re on a high and you can’t come down. He was able to find me several times, we started to click and we were on the same page.”
The Kaepernick to Davis connection accounted for 180 yards and eight receptions, two of which were touchdowns. It is clear how much Kaepernick trusts Davis and he continues to make plays. “Vernon is open most of the time. The more we can get the ball in his hands and let him use the speed the better. I’m going to give Vernon his chances whenever I can. The drive was huge. We had a lot of third down conversions, a big fourth down conversion, it was huge. Drained some clock. We said in the huddle that we have to go down and score right now.”
Two rookies made a heavy contribution on the defensive side of the ball. Corey Lemonier continued to step up in the absence of Aldon Smith. Lemonier recorded his first sack, which ended up being a timely safety for the 49ers. He used a bull rush at first but then ran right by the tackle and wrapped up Carson Palmer to put the 49ers ahead for good.
Lemonier has stepped up big time and is making the adjustment to the NFL. “Everybody is fast and strong, you have to come out here with a big heart and prove that you’re ready to compete. We came with the mentality to come out and basically ball. Hats off to Arizona to come in and play but we really came to play. Our mentality is to go all out, true grit. We have that hungry attitude.”
The other defensive rookie that stood out was Eric Reid. This rookie is making a serious case for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Reid dropped an interception last week against the Texans but he was sure to take advantage of his next opportunity. He returned his interception 53 yards and gave the 49ers the ball in the Cardinals territory. “On that particular coverage I have that half of the field but I’m given the freedom to read the quarterback. I got a good break on the throw and I made the play. I caught it this time. Trying to make up for last week.”
Reid had a fumble recovery also. He is steadily improving and that is primarily because of having a veteran player at his position showing him the ropes. “I’ve come leaps and bounds, that’s a credit to our coaching staff and the vets especially Donte. He’s taught me how to work. I am always next to him. He’s showing me how to get to that next level.”
The defense was able to get interceptions in their third straight game. Donte Whitner alluded to one thing that they do to confuse opposing quarterbacks. “Disguise is key for all good QBs, we do our best to show them something and change it up post snap. We don’t show them what they want to see and then change it up.”
Patrick Willis came back after missing the last few games. He forced a fumble by Larry Fitzgerald and Eric Reid recovered it at the 49ers 11 yard line.
Frank Gore once again got 100 yards rushing. The 49ers are a very difficult team to beat when he gets going. Gore was featured on the long clock consuming drive that punctuated the win for the 49ers.
Carlos Rogers made his first interception of the season. He also had seven tackles on the day.
Lamichael James and Nnamdi Asomugha where both inactive for this game. The 49ers will be facing a roster decision on Nnamdi as Eric Wright is set to be activated soon.
The 49ers will take their show on the road as they go to Tennessee next week to face the Titans. Chris Johnson is struggling to run the ball. Jake Locker will be out once again so Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the quarterback. The Titans are coming off a 20-13 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle. This game will be the first game against former tight end Delanie Walker.