It was a difference of turnovers – five of them to be exact – and it was that difference that handed the 1-4 San Francisco 49ers their fourth loss of the season at the hands of the 1-4 Arizona Cardinals, 28-18.
“You look at a stat sheet and things like that,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “Usually, when, I think it’s like 90 plays to 40, or something like that, you double them in time of possession, yards. I thought our defense played their tail off. Did good on third down. You look at a lot of those things, it’s hard to find how you lost a game. Then it’s very easy when you look at the turnover column. I haven’t been part of any game, I don’t think many people have, where five turnovers to zero leads to a win. We have to improve that drastically to have a chance.”
Also hurting the 49ers’ chances was the loss of running back Matt Breida, who left the game late in the first quarter with an ankle sprain. In the short time he was in the game, Breida had eight carries for 56 yards. Without him, the 49ers had 91 yards rushing. So, he was missed.
“If Breida can’t go back in the game, then no one can go back in the game because he works as hard as anyone at that,” Shanahan said. “He’s been one of our better players and obviously when he’s not in there it’s definitely not easier.”
The San Francisco 49ers started strong, scoring a touchdown on their first drive, but extra point got messed up and things just got worse from there. The Cardinals answered with a 75-yard touchdown from quarterback Sam Rosen to Christian Kirk, made possible by a missed assignment by Adrian Colbert.
“It was just an undisciplined play by me,” Colbert said. “I saw [Larry Fitzgerald] flash and it was just a bad play on my part. It is something that I have to correct.”
Other than that play, the 49ers defense played well, certainly well enough to keep them in the game, but again, it was those pesky turnovers.
Beathard finished the day 34-of-54 for 349 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and two stripped balls, the last of which was returned for a Cardinals touchdown and put the game out of reach for San Francisco.
“He’s a quarterback and there’s a lot of responsibility on the quarterback to protect the ball,” Shanahan said. “There’s 10 other guys out there that can make it easier on him too. I’ll get through all of them. Usually, fumbles it’s hard to pin on the quarterback, but we’ll look at them hard tomorrow and coach him up the best we can on them.”
Beathard’s teammates don’t disagree.
“It’s on all of us to block better for him, get open quicker for him; we just need to make things easier for him,” Juszczyk said. “We keep talking about how tough C.J. is, and he’s one of the toughest guys I know, one of the toughest guys I’ve played with. But your quarterback, that shouldn’t be his number one attribute, being tough…We should make things easier for him.”
Notes and Bright Spots
- All totaled, the 49ers had 66 first downs and the Cardinals had 20.
- The Niners converted on 10-of-17 third downs; whereas the Cardinals were 2-12.
- And the 49ers won the time of possession battle 40:12 to 19:48. So yeah, it was the turnovers.
- The 49ers defense held Arizona running back David Johnson to 55 yards rushing.
- George Kittle had another strong game, finishing with five receptions for 83 yards.
- In addition to some key blocks, Juszczyk had six receptions for 75 yards and 12 yards rushing.
Next up, the 49ers head to Green Bay to take on the Packers on Monday Night Football.