Sunday was bad for the San Francisco 49ers. Like really, really bad. The now 3-5 team, who kept pace with a full-strength Arizona Cardinals team a month ago, was embarrassed by a Cardinals team that had no QB Kyler Murray, no wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green and no DE J.J. Watt. Beyond that, Arizona running back Chase Edmonds left the game early with an ankle injury. The final score was 31-17, but one could argue that it was never that close.
“It was extremely disappointing,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said about the 49ers’ defensive performance. “I don’t think we tackled very well. I didn’t think we had 11 guys swarming to the ball enough. I think we made it pretty easy on those guys.”
Correct. Backup QB Colt McCoy 22-0f-26 for 229 yards and a touchdown, while picking up 23 yards on the ground for good measure. The 49ers defense allowed 31 points and 437 yards.
“Our defense is based on not giving up explosives so we didn’t do our job,” said defensive lineman Arik Armstead. “They got too many explosives and explosives leads to points. We didn’t make them earn it. We didn’t make them drive the ball and have to earn points. They got big chunk plays which lead to scores and that is not what our defense is about. If we don’t eliminate explosives we are not going to be successful. I would sum it up as not good.”
Things did not look great in the first quarter, when running back James Conner basically waltzed into the end zone on a 13-yard run, as he was not touched by a single defender and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley missed (and that’s putting it kindly) the tackle.
This is still tackle football, right?
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) November 7, 2021
Conner ended up the day with 96 rushing yards, 77 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Casual.
Also not good – the 49ers came up with zero turnovers, while committing three of their own, and the Cardinals did not punt until late into the third quarter.
“It’s embarrassing, defensively, what we put on tape,” linebacker Fred Warner said after the game.
Cornerback Josh Norman was benched after he was called for taunting by getting into it with Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury and was replaced by an inefficient Dre Kirkpatrick. It’s worth noting that rookie Ambry Thomas was active. Deommodore Lenoir was not and was attending to a personal matter.
Offensively, the 49ers played better, but had too many mistakes and miscues to make up for the defensive mess. Tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk both committed drive-killing fumbles that led to 10 Cardinals’ points. It took almost 30 minutes for the 49ers to score any points.
“We’re definitely disappointed,” Kittle said. “It’s tough when turn the ball over twice early on when you’re moving the ball after explosive plays. So that kind of just kills the team. It doesn’t help our defense out at all. I think we started with a couple of three and outs to start it off. That’s tough for them. As an offense we have to execute better, we have to take care of the football…This one’s going to suck for about 24 hours. You got to move on from it…We still got nine games left…”
The next one is the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football, and with nine games the left, the 49ers currently sit one game out of a Wild Card spot.
Meanwhile, the 49ers have yet to win at Levi’s Stadium this season and are 1-8 at home over the last two.
“Guys were excited [before the game] in a good way, but I don’t know,” said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. “Something about playing home. We’ve got to figure it out and get it right because these fans deserve it.”
This roster should be better. Even with injuries, the team should be performing at a higher level. You can point to the DeForest Buckner trade in March 2020 as the beginning of the defensive downfall. You can point to the reliance on injured players not to keep getting injured. You can point to what seems to be a lack of vocal leadership. But 3-5 is where they are and if they want to turn it around, the 49ers are going to have to find a way to do it, stat.
“I think this year with turnovers, we’re not getting them and we’re giving them up too much,” said Bosa. “That’s a big sign of a losing team. And that’s what we are right now.”