They’ve battled a pandemic, injuries, and now, a wave of unhealthy smoke that has enveloped the state of California.
Yet an all-around sloppy game from the San Francisco 49ers resulted in an 24-20 upset by the Arizona Cardinals to spoil their home opener. An inconsistent day from Jimmy Garoppolo (19-of-33, 259 yards, 2 TDs) and the 49ers offense gave Kyler Murray (26-of-40, 230 yards, 1 TD, 13 carries, 91 yards, TD, DeAndre Hopkins (14 receptions, 151 yards) and the Cardinals (1-0) an opportunity to stage a late-game comeback.
The 49ers (0-1) battled injuries all throughout training camp. Coming into Sunday’s game, there were a few key players who were going to be game-time decisions.
Without rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and second-year receiver Deebo Samuel, the 49ers were thin at the position Sunday. Losing center Ben Garland was a tough loss for a team that was forced to start their third-string center.
The 49ers lost the coin toss, and received the kickoff to begin the game.
Garoppolo completed a 5-yard pass to George Kittle for the first play of the game. A horse-collar tackle added on an additional 15 yards.
A few runs from Raheem Mostert for a total of 10 yards moved the 49ers into Cardinals territory. The offense was unable to convert on third down, settling for an opening-drive field goal from Robbie Gould giving the 49ers a 3-0 lead.
The 49ers defense was all over the Murray and the Cardinals offense. Two passes to Larry Fitzgerald and a pass to the newest Cardinal Hopkins was not enough to overcome the intentional grounding penalty called on Murray. The 49ers defense forces a punt.
Without his two starting wide receivers, Garoppolo turned to his running back, Mostert for an explosive 76-yard touchdown on a short pass over the middle on the first play of the second drive. The 49ers took a 10-0 lead after the explosive touchdown.
Murray and the Cardinals went three-and-out on the second drive. The 49ers dominated on both sides of the ball to begin the game.
The 49ers followed with a three-and-out of their own on the third drive. The Cardinals ended up blocking the punt, recovering the ball at the 10-yard line.
It took one play, and the Cardinals were on the board. Murray passed to his running back Chase Edmonds for a 10-yard touchdown. The blocked punt hurt the 49ers, who led 10-7.
Garoppolo was sacked to begin the next drive. A pass to Kittle over the middle for 13 yards gave them a 3rd-and-3 in which they were unable to convert. Another punt.
The 49ers defense forced another Cardinals punt, as the offense took over at the 38-yard line.
A great drive from the 49ers offense ran out the clock in the rest of the first quarter. Runs by Mostert, Kyle Juszczyk, and Kittle, paired with two passes to both Kittle and TE Jordan Reed gave the 49ers 1st-and-10 from the Cardinals 10-yard line.
The Cardinals stopped a 49ers 4th-and-1 goal-line stand, resulting in a turnover on downs. The remainder of that drive though was highlighted by the first two snaps of Jerick McKinnon’s 49ers career, one of which went for 16-yards. Signed in 2018, McKinnon had yet to take a snap with the team due to an injury-plagued two seasons.
From the 1-yard line, the Cardinals moved quickly to mid-field after multiple passes to Hopkins, and some short runs from RB Kenyan Drake.
A 4th-and-5 for Arizona resulted in a missed field goal.
The 49ers began their next drive from the 34-yard line. An 18-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne was all the offense could do on that drive, resulting in a punt.
Murray and the Cardinals offense marched down the field. Near mid-field, 49ers LB Dre Greenlaw tipped a pass from Murray, resulting in an interception by S Jaquiski Tartt. The 49ers got the ball back in Cardinals territory.
After the two-minute warning, Garoppolo completed a pass to McKinnon for nine yards and a first down. Another pass to McKinnon brought the 49ers to the Cardinals 8-yard line.
A 3rd-and-4 resulted in a two-yard pass to Trent Taylor, short of the first down. Gould’s field goal attempt was good, 49ers extend their lead to 13-7 with 30 seconds left in the half.
Edmonds carried for the Cardinals on the first play of the following drive for 20 yards. A pass to Hopkins for 12 yards moved the Cardinals into 49ers territory. Another pass to Hopkins nearly ran the remainder of the clock out.
With two seconds left, the Cardinals field goal attempt was good. The score at halftime: 49ers 13, Cardinals 10.
After the game, 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan had this to say about Kyler Murray:
“You see a guy who is very talented, and he can run around and make some plays. If you cover everyone, he’s going to make some plays scrambling. That’s usually how it goes versus him. I thought we did a pretty good job containing him, had a couple of unfortunate penalties that kept the drives going and kept them out there longer. He’s a hell of a player.”
The Cardinals received the second half kickoff to begin the third quarter, returning the kick to the 37-yard line.
Murray completed multiple passes to Hopkins after a holding penalty to begin the drive. A sack of Murray from 49ers DL Kerry Hyder resulted in a 3rd-and-13. Murray followed with a QB scramble for 25 yards and a first down.
Two plays later, Murray scrambled to the 49ers 31-yard line. An incomplete pass on 3rd-and-10 resulted in another missed field goal for the Cardinals.
A two-yard run from Mostert was followed by a sack of Garoppolo. On 3rd-and-13, Garoppolo air-mailed Bourne, forcing a punt. The 49ers offense was struggling.
Murray scrambled on the Cardinals first play of the following drive, resulting in an unnecessary roughness penalty called on Greenlaw. Cardinals start their next play from the 38-yard line.
The Cardinals sputtered the rest of the drive, punting the ball away with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
Garoppolo and the struggling 49ers offense began their drive at their own 7-yard line. Two carries from Mostert for a first down.
A third run from Mostert and a pass to Bourne over the middle moved the chains for the 49ers. Three plays later, an incomplete pass to Tevin Coleman resulted in another 49ers punt.
After a frustrating day, Jimmy Garoppolo discussed the offense and where the bright spots were Sunday:
“Well, yeah, obviously not the way we wanted to start the season, but there were some positives to take out of this game. Thought the running backs played really well, did their part. Up front, I think we held our own, those guys did great, but it’s just executing every little detail on every single play. I think just the consistency for our offense, I think, just needs to improve.”
The Cardinals made their way to midfield as time ran out in the 3rd quarter. They began the 4th quarter from their 41-yard line.
Defensively the 49ers shot themselves in the foot on this drive with two crucial defensive penalties, giving the Cardinals new life each time. A third penalty, pass interference on Emmanuel Moseley gave the Cardinals another first down from the 49ers 35-yard line.
The wheels had fallen off for the 49ers. A 22-yard run from Murray for a touchdown gave the Cardinals a 17-13 lead after the extra point. The 49ers offense needed to respond.
Nick Bosa talked about how tired the 49ers defense was from chasing down Kyler Murray, and if the air quality made that worse at all:
“I honestly think I may have noticed the air quality a bit. The thing they do well, is when they know we’re tired, they tempo it to keep us going and not allow subs to get in. It does make it tough. [We’ll have] plays stopped, then [Kyle Murray] scrambles and takes it for a first down. It’s just an added dimension and we’ll have to do better.”
Garoppolo and the offense began at the 22-yard line. A jolt of energy for the 49ers, as Garoppolo completes a 41-yard pass downfield to Juszczyk into Cardinals territory.
Shanahan gave his thoughts on Garoppolo’s performance:
“Yeah, he had some good plays in there, but just like the entire offense, just missed a number of opportunities that it was going to take to win that game. We had a couple there, but he’s got to play better. We’ve all got to play better on offense, especially, and it starts with me.”
Two plays later, a 3rd-and-10 pass from Garoppolo resulted in a defensive pass interference on the Cardinals. First down from the Cardinals 10-yard line.
A run with Coleman moved the ball to the 5-yard line. Two plays later, McKinnon for the touchdown. A 5-yard pass gave the 49ers a 20-17 lead after the extra point with 8:38 left in the game.
It was a special touchdown for McKinnon, who talked about his return to the field, and the big score late in the game:
“Definitely felt good to be back out there, especially in more of a game-type feel. All we had was preseason and practices, so just to get back out there in the stadium felt good. Getting different looks from different defenses, playing against other guys, it felt good to be back out there.”
A pass to Hopkins and Drake, then a 15-yard run by Murray moved the Cardinals into 49ers territory.
Three plays later, a 33-yard pass to Hopkins gave the Cardinals a 1st-and-10 from the 49ers 1-yard line. A rushing touchdown from Drake gave the Cardinals a 24-20 lead after the extra point.
Down by four with 5:03 left in the game, the 49ers needed a long scoring drive.
George Kittle was very active in the first half of the game, then disappeared in the second half after a lower leg injury. Did the 49ers move away from using Kittle in the second half? Kittle explained after the game:
“No, we had plays. Other guys were open, just the way the game goes sometimes. We’ll watch the film, see what happens, how I can be better, how I can get more open. We’ll just go from there, it’s alright.”
A run and a pass to Mostert gave the 49ers a quick first down. Garoppolo scrambled for nine yards, and Mostert picked up a other first down on a run for seven.
After the game, Garoppolo discussed the offenses attempt to come back late in the game:
“Yeah, we were in that situation plenty of times last year. When you get into those situations, obviously it was a little different today without the crowd, just that feel, that game day feel, it just wasn’t there, but it just comes down to execution, like I said, especially when it comes in the last couple of minutes like that. Every play is crucial, every yard’s crucial and we didn’t execute when we needed to.”
The 49ers last play before the two-minute warning was a 10-yard run from Coleman. This was the last drive for the 49ers, and they were milking the clock, down at the Cardinals 32-yard line.
A two yard pass to Reed and a nine-yard pass to Mostert gave the 49ers another first down. Garoppolo passed incomplete to Bourne in the end-zone.
With 1:14 left in the game, Garoppolo found Taylor over the middle for a gain of five yards to the Cardinals 16-yard line. An incomplete pass to Taylor in the end-zone brought up 4th-and-5 for the 49ers with 37 seconds left.
An incomplete pass to Taylor sealed the game. The Cardinals defense came through, and the 49ers dropped the home opener.
Shanahan discussed the frustrating loss:
“Just a reminder that we’re back to football. That’s how football goes. We had a number of chances to win that game, I thought we started out very well, I thought we had a chance to run away with it in the first half. Any time you average eight yards a play and you’re holding them pretty good on the other side of the ball, thought we’d have more points to show for it than what we did.”
Following the home opener, the 49ers (0-1) will travel to the east coast to face the New York Jets (0-1). They will actually stay in the area for two weeks, playing the New York Giants in Week 3.
- 49ers RB Tevin Coleman has the sickle-cell trait, a pre-existing condition that was a concern for the team because of the unhealthy air quality. An AQI above 150 puts Coleman at risk. He warmed up with the team before the game and was seen using the oxygen mask throughout the game.
- Without fans, the 49ers need to find a way to get energized. They outsourced to uh…George Kittle’s dad?