Photo credit: @49ers
By: Joe Lami
SANTA CLARA–Any optimism left in the 2018 season for the 49ers walked out of Levi’s Stadium disgusted on Sunday after the Arizona Cardinal’s picked up their first win of the season with a 28-18 victory over San Francisco.
The Niners can’t seem to shake the constants in their season that continue to cost them games. Injuries, penalties, turnovers, and missed tackles continue to be the Achilles heel of the red and gold, and there’s no sign of the bleeding to come to an end. On Sunday, injuries and turnovers once again delivered the knock-out blow.
Statistics show that when a team is minus-one in the turnover differential mark, they have an 80% chance of losing the game. On Sunday, the 49ers coughed up the ball five times, while the Cardinals didn’t lose the ball once.
Four of them came from C.J. Beathard with two interceptions and two strip sacks, including a scoop and score that gave Arizona a 21-12 lead and ended the game.
The other turnover came on Raheem Mostert’s first carry of the season before Patrick Peterson returned it 49 yards, setting up Arizona’s second TD.
The only reason Mostert even touched the ball was due to injury. After rushing eight times for 56 yards, including a long of 17 yards, it looked like Matt Breida was once again off to an explosive start. That is, until his eighth carry of the game, when he went down with a left ankle sprain that prevented him from returning.
After the Niners scored first, they, of course, missed the extra point attempt due to a bad snap. Robbie Gould didn’t even attempt to kick it.
Arizona didn’t take long to come right back in it. On his best play of the day, Josh Rosen immediately went deep and hooked up with Christian Kirk on a 75-yard play action pass that found the end zone. The Cardinals did make the extra point to go up 7-6.
The 49ers pass rush remains one of the worst in all of football. Despite, holding Rosen to an abysmal 10-of-25 for 170 yards, the Niners were only able to sack him once and hit him four times.
The lone sack came from Cassius Marsh, caused by a bad snap that Rosen had to pick up. The three other QB hits came from DeForest Buckner, who remains the only playmaker the defense seems to have.
With a rookie quarterback that is struggling on the worst team in the league, the defense needs to be better. Instead, they let him walk in and collect the first win of his career throwing only nine completions for 95 yards after his first play of the game.
David Johnson found the end zone twice for the Cardinals. Thanks to excellent field position, he was held to a total of 55 yards, but still finished with a productive day with his second coming in garbage time in the fourth quarter to extend Arizona’s lead to 28-12.
On top of the missed PAT from Robbie Gould, he also missed a 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that ended his franchise-long 33 straight field goals made.
There aren’t too many positives to take from San Francisco’s most embarrassing loss in recent memory, especially when you have five turnovers. However, on the drives where San Francisco didn’t turnover the ball, it wasn’t completely awful.
On the opening drive, Beathard found rhythm with Kyle Juszczyk connecting on two big plays for a combined 44 yards that led the team down the field. The Niners cruised down the field before Breida found paydirt on a quick shovel pass from Beathard for the opening score.
Juszczyk caught six of the seven passes sent his way for 75 yards.
Beathard’s numbers looked okay too (of course, minus the turnovers). He threw 34-of-53 for 349 yards and two touchdowns. He once again worked well with George Kittle, who’s beginning to look like the only weapon left on defense. Kittle caught five passes for 83 yards, including the Niners’ biggest offensive play of the day at 45 yards.
The Niners racked up 447 yards of total offense and held the ball for an astonishing 40:12, but again gave the ball up five times.
Of course, there’s no silver lining when your team loses at home to the worst team in football, except for the fact that the Faithful will give up on the season and pull for a better draft pick.
Hey, the Niners just moved ahead of Arizona on the draft board.