Cardinals Are Just Better

Football is a tough sport. It requires 11 men working together at any given time to achieve a goal. That goal can be scoring a touchdown or stop the other team from scoring. The game requires skill, intelligence, as well as mental and physical toughness. The game requires thorough and prescient preparation. The game also requires execution. There is little room for error. Finally, sometimes, the game requires a little luck. On Sunday, the Cardinals had all these elements, and the 49ers were woefully deficient of most of these elements.

The fans and the media first want to blame Jimmy Garoppolo. Sunday was not his fault. He played well. His receivers did not. Early in the game, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk allowed ball’s to be punched out of their hands. The Cardinals quickly capitalized on those forced errors. The media wants to blame Kyle Shanahan. He called a good game under the circumstances, but his players failed to execute his vision. Fumbling balls, dropping passes, and missing blocks are not the head coach’s problem. It is up to the players to execute the coach’s vision. The 49ers failed to do that on Sunday.

The 49ers defense started out well forcing the Cardinals to punt. However, the offense let the defense down fumbling an 18-yard reception away to the Cardinals. After that, the Cardinals scored on every possession the remainder of the first quarter. Meanwhile, the 49er offensive possessions for the whole first half were punt, fumble, punt, fumble and finally a touchdown to end the half. The Niners showed some signs of life their last offensive possession of the half. They actually had been showing signs of life the whole game, but they kept coming up short due to critical and untimely mistakes. The final drive of the half was a masterful mix of runs and passes executed well. It gave the fans hope for the second half. Unfortunately, that hope was misplaced.

The 49er defense allowed the Cardinals offense to score on just 3 plays to start the second half putting the team down 24 to 7. The final play of their opening drive was a perfectly timed screen from Colt McCoy to James Conner. The 49er offense sputtered away and went three and out the next possession. With eight minutes left in the third quarter the Cardinals scored their last touchdown of the game putting them up 31 to 7. The 49ers answered with their last touchdown of the game. That’s it. The rest of the game was a mix of uninspired inconsistent play by the whole team. The 49ers just could not get it together.

Truthfully, the 49ers lost this game in the first quarter. Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle lost the game when they allowed themselves to fumble. Both fumbles were forced, however both players could have and should have had better ball security. In both instances the 49ers were executing and driving the ball well. Aiyuk fumbled his ball well inside the Cardinal red-zone. Perhaps the fumbles would have been irrelevant if the defense had stopped the Cardinals. Some might say it just wasn’t the 49ers day. Maybe that is true. The only thing I know for sure is the Cardinals are clearly better. They might just be the best in the NFC.

The Cardinals came into Levis Stadium with a backup quarterback and backup running back and embarrassed the red and gold all Sunday afternoon. Colt McCoy threw for 274 yards and committed no turnovers. It was a great game plan executed by the former Texas Longhorn quarterback. The Cardinals ran the ball for 163 yards total. Defensively they sacked Jimmy G five times, forced two fumbles, and snagged an interception. Statistically the game was a beatdown.

Though Aiyuk fumbled away a 49er red zone chance to score, he played his best game all year. He made acrobatic catches and eventually scored a touchdown. Similarly, George Kittle played well snagging 101 yards in receptions and a touchdown. Deebo did Deebo things, but he was a bit more subdued on Sunday. He has been dealing with an injury. Jimmy G hit 7 different receivers, 4 of which he connected with 5 or more times. When he wasn’t being chased all over the field, he read the field well and made plays happen. It just wasn’t enough.

I don’t know where the 49ers go from here. What I do know is that football is a team sport. You can’t blame the loss on anyone man. I know I mentioned Aiyuk and Kittle in particular. Despite that, the whole team must own the loss. Each individual player must own their part in that loss. Each player and coach must re-commit to themselves and the team to be better than they were yesterday. That should be easily done, because yesterday they were awful.

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