Cardinals at 49ers score: Jimmy Garoppolo leads comeback as San Francisco fends off feisty Arizona "VIDEO Hightlitghts"
Just like their first matchup this season, the 49ers defeated the gritty Cardinals on the strength of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who threw for a career-high 424 yards and four touchdown passes.
After trailing 16-0 early, Garoppolo's 25-yard touchdown pass to running back Jeff Wilson with under a minute remaining gave the 49ers a 30-26 lead. D.J. Reed's fumble return for a score on the
game's final play put the exclamation point on San Francisco's 36-26 win.
The 49ers, who won despite accruing 127 penalty yards, rushing for just 34 yards and losing receiver Emmanuel Sanders and defensive end Dee Ford to injuries, are now 9-1 and still a game ahead of
Seattle in the NFC West standings. The Cardinals, despite getting a three-touchdown performance by quarterback Kyler Murray, fell to 3-7-1.
Here's a look at how the 49ers were able to pull off the come-from-behind victory
Why the 49ers won
The 49ers overcame the losses of Sanders and tight end George Kittle (who was ruled out before the start of the game) by spreading the ball around. Garoppolo had success throwing to tight end
Deebo Samuel (eight catches, 134 yards), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (seven catches, 63 yards) and tight end Ross Dwelley, who caught the first two touchdowns of his NFL career. His first touchdown
put the 49ers on the board, while his second touchdown in the third quarter gave the 49ers their first lead.
After trying with no avail to get their running game going in the first half, the 49ers unleashed Garoppolo and the passing game in the second half. Garoppolo responded with gusto, completing
nearly 76 percent of his passes that included all eight of his attempts on San Francisco's first scoring drive of the fourth quarter. Six days after enduring arguably the worst game of his
career, Garoppolo bounced back with his best.
San Francisco's defense, after struggling to contain Kyler Murray, Kenyan Drake and Larry Fitzgerald early, made the necessary adjustments in the second half, holding Murray to under 25 rushing
yards in the second half while limiting him to 150 passing yards for the game. The 49ers, by forcing the Cardinals into a slew of third and long situations, held Arizona to just 3-of-10 on third
down. San Francisco also turned up the head up on Murray, sacking him four times.
Why the Cardinals lost
Third down woes, penalties (10 for 104 yards), the inability to contain Garoppolo, and a lack of adjustment on the offensive end were the main reasons why the Cardinals could not hang onto their
early lead. After having success early in the game using zone read options, the Cardinals were not able to respond after the 49ers started to neutralize Murray and Drake, who ran the ball just
nine times in the second half.
After dominating time of possession early, the Cardinals struggled to keep possession in the ball in the second half, running just 23 plays in the second half after running 35 plays in the first
half. Miscues also played a role in the loss. Offensive pass interference called against receiver Christian Kirk wiped out Murray's touchdown pass to tight end Charles Clay on the game's first
possession. Late in the first quarter, with a change to add to their 9-0 lead, Kirk dropped a third down pass that would have given the Cardinals a first down deep inside 49ers territory.
The Cardinals also failed to get another big game out of Drake, who gained 80 yards on 22 touches after recording 162 total yards in Arizona's first game against San Francisco.
Murray, despite being slowed in the second half, still had his moments after the break, giving the Cardinals a 26-23 lead with 6:30 left on this 22-yard touchdown run.