Santa Clara – The 49ers have put last season behind them but if you look at the stats they’ve lost two in a row. This certainly was not the start San Francisco wanted but after lots of penalties, bad communication and sloppy play, the Arizona Cardinals were able to rally late in the fourth for the 24-20 victory.
“He had some good plays in there, but like the rest of the offense, just missed a number of opportunities that was going to win that game,” Kyle Shanahan said. “He’s got to play better. We’ve all gotta play better especially and that starts with me.”
Kyler Murray had his way with the 49ers defense. With 5 minutes left in play, Murray scrambled for 15 yards before connecting with a wide open DeAndre Hopkins for a 34-yard touchdown. The play was under review and overturned, Hopkins was short of the goal. On the next play Kenyan Drake leaped over the pile for a 1-yard touchdown making it a 24-20 game.
San Francisco had another opportunity to turn things around, but Jimmy Garoppolo struggled moving his offense down field. A couple of incomplete passes followed by a dominant Cardinals defense was too much to bear. Loss of downs led to turning the ball back over to Arizona with .33 seconds left in the game.
“I can’t really put my finger on one right now, but there’s a number of them, missed throws, missed opportunities we usually make,” said Garoppolo. “You’ve got to take it for what it is, look at the film, be hard on yourself, like we always are, and move on. You’ve got to use the 24-hour rule.”
What looked like an easy start for the 49ers quickly changed late in the 1st quarter. Robbie Gould kicked a 52-yard field goal on opening drive for a 3-0 lead. On the next drive, Raheem Mostert was all by himself for a 76-yard touchdown pass to make it a 10-0 game. Mostert finished the game with 4 receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mostert’s 76-yard touchdown is the 4th longest touchdown by a 49ers running back in franchise history. And the longest since RB Garrison Hearst had an 81-yard touchdown when San Francisco played the New Orleans Saints 11/22/98.
Ezekiel Turner’s block on Mitch Wishnowsky’s punt, led to Murray’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Chase Edmonds to get them back in this game. Garoppolo faced an uphill battle to start the second. Jerick McKinnon rushed up the middle to put the 49ers in the red zone. Mostert rushed for a 1-yard touchdown but was short. The 49ers challenged the call and lost a timeout in the process.
“We didn’t do good in any situation on third down,” said Shanahan. “So, it starts with, obviously we didn’t have a good enough plan and then it goes to everyone else. When you’re 0-for, it’s never just one thing. It’s a number of things. They did a good job in their defense. They had a good third down plan, but I know we can do better than that.”
Two failed field goal attempts by Zane Gonzalez didn’t slow down Arizona’s offense. Late in the second Murray’s pass intended for Maxx Williams was intercepted by Jaquiski Tartt who rushed it back for 16 yards. Gould kicked his second field goal for 24-yard making it a 13-7 game. Gonzalez kicked a 56-yard field goal to end the half 13-10.
With no points in the third, Murray took matters into his own hands with a 22-yard touchdown of his own to make it a 17-13 game. Despite a few missed passes and throwing the ball away when Kendrick Bourne was wide open in the end zone, Garoppolo found McKinnon for a 5-yard touchdown to retake the lead 20-17.
The biggest problem for the 49ers defense came in a package of two, both Murray and Hopkins were unstoppable. Murray went 26-for-40 for 230 yards. While Hopkins had 14 receptions for 230 yards and one touchdown. And don’t forget he also rushed for 91 yards on 13 attempts. A once dominant defense was only able to sack Murray twice today.
“It just comes down to executing down the stretch,” Richard Sherman said. “Any time you get to play, we got to knock the rust off some things, some communication things we have to do better, but I think overall, we feel good about where we are.
They played a good game. They made some plays at the end. [Kyler Murray] made some plays with his legs that made it tough and compromised the defense. But I think it was a great learning experience for everybody, and it will help us in the future.”
The good takeaway from today’s game is that, this is only the first game of the season. Lots of time left to get it right. San Francisco’s next game will be on the road as they head back East to face the New York Jets.