49ers upset Cardinals 20-12 behind C.J. Beathard’s 3 TDs

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (23) holding intercepted ball that he picked off in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals on Sat Dec 26, 2020 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz — With the 49ers already officially eliminated from the playoffs after losing to the Dallas Cowboys 41-33 in Week 15, didn’t mean that San Francisco had nothing to play for in 2020.

Like preventing their bitter rivals in the Arizona Cardinals from making it to the postseason. If the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs after entering Week 16 holding down the final spot in the NFC playoffs, they can thank the 49ers.

The 49ers pulled off the 20-12 upset over their State Farm Stadium tenants on Saturday afternoon.

San Francisco (6-9) avoided being swept by Arizona this season. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 24-20 in Week 1. Arizona (8-7) came into this season having swept the season series from San Francisco in five out of the last six seasons.

In his first start since Week 8 of the 2018 season, C.J. Beathard played with a steady hand in engineering the 49ers’ run-first offense which made his job that much easier. Beathard completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Beathard threw touchdown passes to running back Jeff Wilson and Kyle Juszczyk giving the 49ers a 14-6 lead late in the third quarter.

Entering Week 16, Beathard was 1-9 as a starting quarterback for San Francisco. He was pressed into action after injuries to Jimmy Garappolo and Nick Mullens.

Beathard was also sacked three times.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Juszczyk hauled in his second score of the game (Beathard’s third TD of the game) from nine yards out that gave the 49ers a 20-12 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

But it was Wilson that shouldered most of the offensive burden for the 49ers against the Cardinals. With Raheem Mostert placed on injured reserve with a high-ankle sprain on Friday, Wilson rushed for a career-high 183 yards on 22 carries in his second start.

A day after most of the world opened presents on Christmas, the 49ers unwrapped tight end George Kittle and immediately felt his impact in the starting lineup.

The 49ers’ best and freshest player, Kittle looked healthy in his first game since Week 8 was on a pitch-count. He spent most of the time on the sideline as he rotated back and forth with Jordan Reed and Ross Dwelley. Kittle was targeted just once in the first half, catching a 24-yard pass with 6:22 left in the first quarter. He played 13 of the 49ers’ 26 snaps in the first half.

Kittle caught four passes for a team-high 92 yards. He caught all but one pass that was thrown his way.

San Francisco’s defense deserves a ton of credit for the 49ers’ win today.

Despite playing without three defensive lineman, including Javon Kinlaw, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Jimmie Ward, the 49ers didn’t play like they were short-handed.

The 49ers were able to hold their own against Pro Bowl quarterback Kyler Murray.

Murray completed 31 of 50 passes for 247 yards, but was sacked three times and threw an interception. He also rushed for a team-high 75 yards on eight carries.

Arizona scored its first and only touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Kenyan Drake jumped on top of a pile and stretched his arm just far enough for a 1-yard touchdown. Murray couldn’t connect with DeAndre Hopkins on the 2-point conversion and the 49ers still led 14-12.

San Francisco’s defense leaned on linebackers Fred Warner (14 tackles) and Dre Greenlaw (7 tackles), while the defensive backfield was a major factor as cornerbacks Jason Verrett (7 tackles), Ahkello Witherspoon (7 tackles), K’Waun Williams (6 tackles) and safety Tarvarius Moore (11 tackles) limited Arizona receivers in yards-after-the-catch.

The 49ers held Hopkins in check, limiting the dynamic wide receiver to a team-high eight catches for 48 yards. A far cry from Week 1 where he caught a career-high 14 catches for 151 yards against the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

Verrett who was primarily guarding Hopkins throughout the day made the biggest play of the first half, breaking up a well-thrown pass from Murray in the end zone that prevented a potential touchdown. The play forced Arizona to kick a field goal that gave San Francisco a 7-6 lead at halftime.

San Francisco’s biggest plays came on Arizona’s final two drives of the game, including the aforementioned Witherspoon’s interception of Murray’s pass in the end zone.

The 49ers wouldn’t have had to sweat out the game if kicker Robbie Gould didn’t miss two field goals and an extra point.

Gould who made his 400th career field in Week 15, missed field goals from 37 and 41 yards. He missed an extra point after Juszczyk’s second touchdown that kept the score at 20-12.

San Francisco plays its final “home” game against the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium, while Arizona heads to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in the season finale.

Aaron Rodgers throws 4 TDs in Packers’ 34-17 crushing of the 49ers

The Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers (center) gets a huge congratulations from wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, bottom left, after throwing a second half touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football Nov 5th at Levis Stadium Santa Clara (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif — The Green Bay Packers came to Levi’s Stadium last season and were defeated handily, including a 17-point loss in the NFC Championship Game in January.

Things were totally different this time around, as the Packers came into an empty Levi’s Stadium and defeated the injury-plagued 49ers 34-17 Thursday night in front a nationally televised audience.

The loss drops San Francisco to 1-4 at home this season.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers dissected the 49ers, completing 26 of 31 passes for 305 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions with a passer rating of 147.2 in the game.

Rodgers put the Packers up 7-0 on their opening drive of the game with a beautiful 36-yard touchdown to wide receiver Davante Adams’ back-shoulder down the left sideline beating 49ers cornerback Emmaunel Moseley. The score capped off a six-play, 75-yard drive for the Packers, who are the only team this season to score on all of their opening possessions.

Adams finished with 10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown.

Following a 22-yard Robbie Gould field goal to cut Green Bay’s lead to 7-3, Rodgers added his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard toss to a wide open Marcedes Lewis to push the Packers lead to 14-3 midway through the second quarter. The tight end was left uncovered in the end zone by a 49ers defense that had trouble applying pressure to Rodgers.

With the 49ers at midfield on the ensuing drive, quarterback Nick Mullens throws a terrible pass in the flat intended for running back Jerick McKinnon that was intercepted by safety Raven Black. Black’s interception would setup Rodgers’ third touchdown in the first half, a 52-yard bomb to a streaking Marquez Valdes-Scantling down the middle of the field putting the Packers up 21-3 shortly before halftime. Valdes-Scantling was able to race by safety Marcel Harris and Rodgers dropped the football in his lap.

In the second half Rodgers would pick up where he left off, connecting with Valdes-Scantling again on a 1-yard score to put the Packers ahead comfortably 28-3. It was Rodgers’ fourth score of the game and Valdes-Scantling’s second touchdown on the night.

Rodgers would retreat to the bench in the fourth quarter with the Packers comfortably ahead, 34-3 and replaced by rookie Jordan Love.

Running back Aaron Jones, who was questionable coming into to the game with a calf issue, rushed for 58 yards on 15 carries and hauled in five catches for 21 yards.

For Mullens and the 49ers (4-5): they got sledgehammered by a better team and quarterback tonight.

Green Bay took advantage of a depleted 49ers squad that was playing without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, running back Raheem Mostert, wide receivers Deebo Samuel, rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne, left tackle Trent Williams, cornerback Richard Sherman, and defensive ends Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas among others.

Mullens, who also lost a fumble, completed 22 of 35 for 291 yards and a touchdown in his first start for San Francisco since Week 4’s 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Aside from the two turnovers by Mullens, he connected with wide receiver Richie James for a 41-yard touchdown down the right sideline to make the score 34-10 with five minutes left in the game.

James took full advantage of the 49ers’ shortage of wide receivers, posting nine catches for 184 yards and a touchdown. It was the most yards for James in either of his first two seasons in the league (130 yards in 2018, 165 yards in 2019).

After allowing Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook to rumble for 163 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries, Green Bay held San Francisco to just 55 yards on the ground. McKinnon led the 49ers with 52 yards on 11 carries and a late touchdown.

Defensively for San Francisco, it was the second-straight week surrendering 30+ points and four touchdown passes in a game.

The NFL’s sixth-ranked defense allowed 405 yards of total offense to Rodgers and the Packers after allowing 350 yards to the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson in Week 8’s 37-27 loss.

And it doesn’t get any easier as they will face future Hall of Famer in Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans in Week 10 on Nov. 15.

Middle linebacker Fred Warner led the 49ers with a 13 tackles, while fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw and safety Jaquiski Tartt finished with seven tackles each. Tartt left the game shortly before halftime with a foot injury. Although he was listed as questionable to return to the game, Tartt was ruled out in the third quarter.

Tartt was in his first game back after missing the last three games with a groin injury.

49ers hold off Rams, 24-16, behind Jimmy Garoppolo’s 3 TDs; strong defense

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) gets the football away as he’s being rushed by the Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) and nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (69) in the first half of Sun Oct 18, 2020 at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif — In a game that many viewed was a must-win to salvage their season, the San Francisco 49ers was able to outlast the visiting Los Angeles Rams, 24-16, on NBC’s Sunday Night Football behind three TDs from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the first half and a strong effort from the defense.

It’s the first win for the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium this season, after dropping their first three home games to the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and the Miami Dolphins.

The 49ers (3-3) jumped on the Rams early, scoring touchdowns on three of their first four possessions. On San Francisco’s first possession, Garoppolo engineered a 6-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off by a 6-yard pass to wide receiver Deebo Samuel for the TD to put the 49ers up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Garoppolo was 4-for-4 for 69 yards on the opening drive.

After the 49ers’ defense forced the Rams to punt on their opening possession of the game, San Francisco took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on Garopplo’s second TD of the game. Garoppolo would find tight end George Kittle for a a 44-yard score after the 49ers faced a 4th and 2 from the Rams 44-yard line.

Kittle’s score punctuated a 10-play, 87-yard drive in 6:08 for the 49ers, who emphasized getting the football out of Garoppolo’s hands quickly and relied heavily on the running game which took a hit when running back Raheem Mostert left the game early in the third quarter with an ankle injury.

Mostert was off to a good start, carrying the ball 17 times for 65 yards before his exit.

Kittle led all receivers with seven catches for 109 yards and the TD, while Samuel finished six catches for 66 yards and a score.

After quarterback Jared Goff found wide receiver Robert Woods in the middle of the end zone on a 10-yard TD to get the Rams on the scoreboard and cut San Francisco’s lead to 14-6, following a missed extra point, the 49ers would put together another scoring drive shortly before halftime.

Garoppolo engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 7:16 and found rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for a 2-yard score that gave the 49ers a commanding 21-6 lead.

Garoppolo was 17 of 21 for 215 yards and 3 TDs in the first half. Offensively, the 49ers had their way with the Rams, racking up 18 first downs and 291 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Garoppolo, who was benched after the first half in last week’s 43-17 embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins at home in which he completed just 7 of 17 passing for 77 yards, two interceptions and a career-low 15.7 passer rating; bounced back this week with a better showing by completing 23 of 33 passes for 268 yards, 3 TDs and a 124.3 passer rating.

Oh yeah, he improves to 4-0 against the Rams all-time.

Coming into the game, the talk leading up to the showdown against the Rams was if Garoppolo could show that he’s still the right quarterback for the 49ers long term and could San Francisco’s much maligned offensive line withstand the dominating force that is perennial Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

San Francisco’s offensive line, which has been a target of criticism the last two weeks as they surrendered 23 quarterback hits and 10 sacks in the last two games, kept Donald off Garoppolo the entire night.

For the game, Donald registered just one solo tackle and one quarterback pressure after recording four of the Rams’ eight sacks against the Washington Football Team last week in Los Angeles’ 30-10 win on the road.

In the second half, the Rams (4-2) converted their first possession into a 42-yard field goal by kicker Samuel Sloman to cut the 49ers’ lead to 21-9.

Following back-to-back 3-and-outs by the 49ers, Goff drove the Rams down to the 49ers’ 2-yard line and looked like Los Angeles would finish off the drive with a TD but Goff’s pass intended for wide receiver Josh Reynolds was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Jason Verrett.

Verrett thwarted a golden scoring opportunity for Goff and the Rams that could’ve changed the tenor of the game.

Goff finished 19 of 38 for 198 yards, 2 TDs and one interception as 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh mixed up coverages that didn’t allow Goff and the Rams’ offense to get comfortable on Sunday night.

The 49ers added a 49-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to push their lead up to 24-9 in the fourth quarter, but the Rams wouldn’t go down quietly.

On the Rams’ next drive, Goff hooked up with Reynolds for a 40-yard TD over cornerback Emmaunel Moseley. Moseley was called for a defensive pass interference call, but the Rams declined the penalty making the score 24-16.

San Francisco’s defense held the Rams to 4 of 12 on third downs and 311 yards of total offense. Much of those yards came on the Rams’ final drive of the game. Moseley, along with linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw paced the defense with seven tackles each.

The schedule gets more daunting for San Francisco with games against the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Rams again in the next five weeks.

For at least one night, the 49ers have quieted the skeptics with an impressive win over their divisional rivals from Southern California.

 

Packers and 49ers tangle for NFC title, trip to Super Bowl LIV

ninerswire.com file photo: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will match up against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers in the NFC Championship at Levis Stadium on Sun Jan 19

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

SANTA CLARA, Calif — For the second time this season, the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers will meet at Levi’s Stadium for a game. But this time, there’s much more at stake for both teams than just a win in the standings.

To the victor, the NFC Championship and a ticket to Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Florida for a chance to play for the Vince Lombardi trophy against the winner between the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs from the AFC will be punched.

First class.

To the loser, the harsh reality that your season is over smacks you in face immediately.

Instead of basking in the glow of winning the NFC Championship, you’ll return to your team’s headquarters to clean out your locker room, hug your teammates (possibly for the last time as teams change rapidly in the NFL each year), and go your separate ways for the offseason.

The end.

In the first matchup back in Week 12, the Packers took a beating at the hands of the 49ers, losing 37-8 at Levi’s Stadium. The Packers weren’t just outplayed by the 49ers, but were embarrassed in front of a nationally televised audience on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played almost flawlessly in that game, throwing for 253 yards on 14-of-20 passes and two long touchdown passes (a 42-yard strike to rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the second quarter, and a 61-yard deep ball to tight end George Kittle).

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had one of his worst showings of his career, finishing with 20-of-33 passes for just 104 yards — setting a record for fewest passing yards by a quarterback with at least 20 completions. His 3.15 yards per attempt is the lowest of his career.

San Francisco sacked Rodgers five times that night. Linebacker Fred Warner was all over the field, registering a team-high 11 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble against the Packers on the game’s opening moments. Warner’s performance led him to be named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Don’t expect a replay of Week 12 in this matchup as both teams are playing a elite levels at the most important time of the year.

Sunday’s NFC Championship Game in the South Bay, which kicks off at 3:40 p.m. PT, will feature two teams that finished 13-3 in the regular season, won the NFC West and North Division titles respectively, and earned first-round byes to open up the playoffs as the top-two seeds.

Last Saturday, top-seeded San Francisco (14-3) opened up the divisional round by dismantling the Minnesota Vikings (11-7), 27-10, in dominating fashion. It was the 49ers’ first playoff win in six years.

The returns of defensive starters, Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt, San Francisco’s defense looked re-energized and ready for a big day, made life difficult for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, sacking him six times and limiting Minnesota’s offense to 147 yards on the day, the fewest in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era (1967).

“People keep disrespecting us. At the end of the day, all you can do is go out and execute,” said Richard Sherman, who registered his third career interception in the playoffs. “It felt good. That’s what we look like when we’re totally healthy.”

The 49ers stonewalled Dalvin Cook and the Vikings’ rushing attack, holding Minnesota to just 21 yards on 10 carries (9 carries for Cook, 1 carry for Alexander Mattison). Cook finished the game with 18 rushing yards on nine carries.

Offensively, the 49ers leaned on a punishing running game that ran right through Minnesota like Ex-Lax led by running back Tevin Coleman’s 105 rushing yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. As a team, the 49ers ran 47 running plays and gained 186 yards on the ground.

Garoppolo, who made his first career start in the playoffs, threw a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, and mostly watched his defense wreak havoc on Minnesota for most of the game. He finished 11-of-19 passing for 131 yards.

The second-seeded Packers (14-3) was able to outlast the Seattle Seahawks, 28-23, at Lambeau Field Sunday night that advanced Green Bay to their third NFC Championship Game in six seasons.

In that game, it was a vintage performance by Rodgers with his array of throws and spectacular completions throughout the game. Rodgers and wide receiver Davante were so locked in against the Seahawks, connecting eight times for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s one of those feelings that starts to creep up in warmups, when you really feel like you’re locked in,” Rodgers said, “and I was glad it translated to the field.”

Rodgers finished 16-of-27 passing for 243 yards in his 17th postseason start, has thrown 38 touchdowns passes in the playoffs. That’s good for fifth all-time per Elias Sports Bureau.

Running back Aaron Jones found the end zone twice, while rushing for 62 yards on 21 carries.

Green Bay’s defense sacked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson five times on the night, two apiece by linebackers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith (no relation).

The 49ers and Packers have met in the playoffs seven times with the Packers holding a 4-3 advantage. The 49ers have won the last two playoff matchups.

 

San Francisco 49ers podcast with Joe Lami: 49ers looking to catch some more breaks this Sunday against Seahawks

msn.com file photo: 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan in file photo from Nov. 1st game versus the Oakland Raiders at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara

On the 49ers podcast with Joe Lami:

#1 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said the clock flub at the end of Sunday’s game had quarterback Nick Mullens not taking a knee, but instead the ball was a turnover to the Denver Broncos. Lucky for San Francisco on the last play of the game, the Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick lateraled and the ball rolled out of bounds midfield, which helped SF win and run the clock out.

#2 Shanahan who was fined by the NFL $25,000 for yelling an obscenity at an official and drew an unsportsmanship-like conduct back on Dec. 2 in Seattle. Shanahan said he would appeal a play that he felt should have stopped the clock after 49ers linebacker Fred Warner had lost his shoe and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw it off the field Shanahan said the officials should have stopped the clock and that Warner should have been allowed to get his shoe back, but promised he wouldn’t swear at the officials again.

#3 San Francisco’s George Kittle had a career day in the first half last Sunday against the Broncos with 210 yards, seven catches, with a 85-yard touchdown.

#4 Mullens had a good offensive afternoon 22-33 for 332 yards. Mullens finished with a 102.1 passer rating.

#5 The Seattle Seahawks, who streamrolled the 49ers in Seattle on Dec. 2, will be at Levi’s Stadium this Sunday. Joe tells what the 49ers’ chances are this Sunday.

Joe Lami is the San Francisco 49ers beat writer and does the 49ers podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com