Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers completed a 16-point comeback against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
For the second time in three weeks, the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals did battle in a competitive NFC West game.
At 8-1 heading into Week 11, San Francisco was in desperate need of a win following last week’s thrilling overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
At least initially, it did not look good for the homestanding 49ers. They fell down 16-0 in the first half, failing to do anything on offense while watching Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ offense take off big time.
Showing the fight we’ve seen from this team all season, the 49ers were able to rally behind a career passing day from Jimmy Garoppolo for a 36-26 comeback win. That included a Garoppolo-led touchdown-scoring drive in the final seconds to cement a 9-1 start to the season. Here’s the biggest takeaways from this highly-competitive game.
Injuries Threaten To Derail Season
It can’t be noted enough just how much the injury bug has impacted San Francisco this season. Pro Bowlers George Kittle and Joe Staley missed Sunday’s action. Leading rusher Matt Breida was absent, as was star defensive tackle D.J. Jones and edge rusher Ronald Blair, the latter of whom is out for the remainder of the season.
It didn’t get much better at Levi’s on Sunday. Questionable heading in, No. 1 receiver Emmanuel Sanders was in and out of the game as his rib injury impacted him big time. Despite a stellar all-around outing, fellow receiver Deebo Samuel also exited multiple times throughout the game.
Dee Ford suffered a hamstring injury in the win. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Defensively, Pro Bowl pass rusher Dee Ford pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. It came after a sack in the first half. He did not return to action and was almost immediately ruled out for the remainder of the game.
There’s something to be said about overcoming injuries. But with a three-game slate against the Packers, Ravens and Saints looming, this has to be concerning for the 49ers. That’s for sure.
Richard Sherman’s No-Good Afternoon
Playing at a Pro Bowl level this season, Sherman might not have allowed many catches on Sunday. However, he did commit the 49ers’ first three penalties of the game – all of the pass interference variety. It started on Arizona’s initial drive of the game and set the opposing team up with a goal-to-go situation. He was also called for two more in the first half alone.
Despite the obvious nature of all three, Sherman took time out of his day after the game to blast the NFL.
“I thought it was interesting, I thought it was really interesting,” Sherman said after the game. “I had three penalties on the season coming into this game, and to get three in a half is really interesting, especially considering with the way the reversals have gone. I think there’s been over 100 PI challenges this year and there’s been five I think reversals and I’m two of them.”
Sherman might be right that officials have pushed back against overturning their original calls, but that first one was about as obvious as it gets. He legit tackled Christian Kirk before the ball arrived.
This is something to pay attention to as the season progresses. Teams will attack Sherman with their speedier and more shifty receivers. Having yielded one of the lowest passer ratings when targeted this season, he’ll have to up his game even more. Sunday saw Sherman cost the 49ers for pretty much the first time since he joined the team.
Jimmy Garoppolo Comes Through At The End
Last week’s three-turnover performance looked like it was well on the way to continuing on Sunday. Garoppolo threw two horrible interceptions, both of which came with the 49ers driving. Specifically, this pick into the hands of Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks acted as a real momentum change.
We’re really not even sure what Garoppolo was looking at here. How did he not see the linebacker? It came with San Francisco up 17-16 and driving for more. Instead, Arizona was able to stem the tide and eventually take a 19-17 lead on its next possession.
Then in the fourth with San Francisco driving for at least a tie game, Garoppolo threw behind tight end Ross Dwelley. It was picked off in the air, ending another potential scoring drive.
The good news here is that San Francisco’s defense held on three-and-out on the following possession and set the 49ers up for a potential game-winning drive. That’s when Garoppolo came through big time. He completed 6-of-7 passes on the final drive, hitting Jeff Wilson for the game-winning 25-yard touchdown pass.
You take the good and the bad with Garoppolo. This season has been a representation of that in a big way. However, he did finish Sunday putting up a career line. The veteran completed 35-of-45 passes for 424 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in the win. When the 49ers needed it the most, Garoppolo came through big time.
Deebo Samuel Is A Breakout Star
49ers Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle has missed each of the past two games. In his stead, this rookie receiver has stepped up big time. Fighting through injury, Samuel came down with 8-of-10 targets for 134 yards on Sunday. It’s Samuel’s second consecutive 100-yard outing and he’s catching 76% of his passes during that span.
At a time when Garoppolo needed someone to step up with Kittle out and Sanders banged up, Samuel did just that. He’s ascending as a rookie at the right time. That’s no small thing with the 49ers’ schedule getting much more difficult over the final six weeks.
49ers Found A Way To Win In A Different Way
The process has been clear in San Francisco this season. Run the ball at an elite clip and play great defense. It had the 49ers at 8-1 heading into Sunday’s game. Something changed in Week 11. Arizona completely sold out against the run, holding San Francisco to a season-low 34 yards on 19 attempts.
Instead of being stuck in his old ways attempting to get the ground game going, Shanahan was forced to abandon the run altogether. That’s what happens when you fall down 16-0 early in a game.
As noted above, Garoppolo responded. It’s also because San Francisco gave him the ability to respond and put the game in his hands. Of the 49ers’ first 39 plays in the second half, 35 were called pass plays before they attempted to run out the clock late in the final stanza.
This is not a recipe the 49ers are going to want to use moving forward. But for one game, it’s a recipe they needed to come out on top. It worked.