MEXICO CITY – So, that’s what all those offensive weapons are for.
The San Francisco 49ers cruised to a 38-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. In front of an essentially home crowd – though the Cardinals were the “home” team – at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the San Francisco offense came alive and the 49ers improve to 6-4.
“That was one of the coolest atmospheres I’ve ever played in,” said 49ers’ pass rusher Nick Bosa, who had a sack of Cardinals’ QB Colt McCoy.
Let’s start with the quarterback.
Jimmy Garoppolo was 20-of-29 for 228 yards, four touchdowns and a rating of 131.9. He has now gone three games without throwing an interception.
“When he’s been healthy out there, we’ve had our guys around him and I think he plays at a very high level,” said 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan. “He did that today and we’re very fortunate to have him.”
Correct, and on Monday night, Garoppolo and his “guys” were clicking on all cylinders.
“The past couple weeks we’ve been putting together some good games,” Garoppolo said. “Today was probably our best full game that we put together. But we got a long way to go. There’s some yards we left out there and some points that we left out there. It’s a nice thing that guys are still hungry.”
Tight end George Kittle “joked” last week that he’d like more than two targets a game. On Monday night, the tight end was targeted six times, garnering four receptions for 84 yards, including two catch-and-run touchdowns.
Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who has been consistently playing at a high level, had two touchdown receptions, while Deebo Samuel had 94 total yards, including a rather impressive 39-yard touchdown run. Christian McCaffrey ran 39 yards and had 67 yards receiving, while running back Elijah Mitchell had nine carries for 59 yards.
The 49ers scored a season-high in points and scored touchdowns in both of their trips to the red zone. In other words, it’s happening. The offense is coming together.
But wait, there’s more, and that’s a healthy dose of complementary football. Samuel Womack delivered another gem on special teams, while punter Mitch Wishnowsky put on a clinic.
Defensively, the 49ers struggled somewhat against wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but sacked McCoy three times and shut the Cardinals out in the second half. The defense also had two interceptions, one from Jimmie Ward and one from Womack.
“Complementary football – it wins in the NFL,” said Bosa.
With seven games left to play, the 49ers are healthy, atop the NFC West and currently hold the No. 3 seed in the NFC.
“We are definitely ready to go on a run,” Kittle said. “We have just won three straight. Our defense is playing at an incredibly high level not giving up points in the second half for multiple games in a row. Our offense, we scored when we got in the red zone. That was big for us. We made plays outside the red zone and scored touchdowns and that’s huge for us because that’s been one thing that’s limited us as an offense and that’s put us in bad positions because we had to kick so many field goals — thank you Robbie Gould for making them.”
The Host City
As mentioned above, Monday night was technically a Cardinals home game. Earlier in the week, VividSeats said 49ers fans would make up 82% of the crowd. That seems accurate.
“It was incredible,” said linebacker Fred Warner, for whom the evening was extra special due to his Mexican heritage. “A once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can’t thank the fans of Mexico enough. It was so special playing in front of them and feeding off their energy all game. It started in warmups. They are showing our faces on screen and cheering for us. I’ll remember this one forever, running that flag out, it was incredible.”
“I’ll remember this one forever. Running that flag out, it was incredible.” Fred Warner pic.twitter.com/R2QB7TQOPA
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) November 22, 2022
During pregame warm ups, fans cheered loudly whenever 49ers players were on the screen. They cheered especially loud of Garoppolo.
“The whole atmosphere tonight, I haven’t played in an atmosphere anything like this,” Garoppolo said. “It was electric. Fans were nuts. They were cheering throughout the whole game, which, it seemed like a soccer game at some points, just the passion that they brought and everything like that. It was really cool. I would love to do it again. Appreciate the Mexico crowd and everything.”