The San Francisco 49ers showed themselves worthy of being NFC West champions on Sunday at the Cardinals expense, and at the same time pulled the curtain back on the quarterback situation in Arizona, revealing more fault lines.
Final score: 49ers 23, Cardinals 7
The 49ers defense flexed it’s muscles all game long, forcing five Arizona turnovers, and allowing just 229 total yards of offense on the Cardinals side.
Quarterback John Skelton had absolutely zero success against the vaunted San Francisco defense, and was eventually pulled for Richard Bartel, who didn’t fare much better.
Skelton was 6-of-19 for 99 yards and three interceptions. Bartel was 8-of-16 for 64 yards and one touchdown, a 23-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald in the fourth quarter.
You look at the quarterback numbers and you would immediately think the wide receiving numbers were just as brutal, and they were.
Early Doucet led the team in receptions with six. Andre Roberts led the receivers in yardage with 50. Fitzgerald was literally invisible at Candlestick Park. He had just three catches and the aforementioned touchdown catch.
Let’s put those numbers in perspective: Michael Crabtree was the 49ers leading receiver.
What were his numbers you ask? I’m glad you asked. Crabtree had seven catches for 120 yards.
I have watched the 49ers all season long, and they are very impressive, especially their run defense, which is absolutely impenetrable. After Sunday’s game, they still haven’t allowed a 100+ yard rusher. The leading gainer for Arizona on the ground was Chester Taylor. He had 34 yards on one carry.
The rest of the numbers were just as stomach churning if you’re a Cardinals fan: they had 11 total first downs, to the 49ers 25. Arizona was 1-for-9 on third downs, which clearly meant a lot of drives died where they stood.
In what is perhaps the most telling stat of the game, the 49ers held the ball for 44:16 to the Cardinals 15:44. An absolute domination by San Francisco.
The 49ers offense kicked it into high gear, despite David Akers missing three field goals, which would’ve made the final score even worse.
Quarterback Alex Smith didn’t rack up huge numbers, but to be honest, did he really have to with the defense he has on his side? He was 20-of-38 for 267 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Running back Frank Gore didn’t crack the century mark, but came very close. He had 88 yards on 24 carries.
And to add insult to injury, per ESPN.com‘s Mike Sando, head coach Ken Whisenhunt announced that nose tackle Dan Williams has a broken hand. That is a huge blow to the Cardinals defense.
The Cardinals are now 3-7, and the two game winning streak is gone. They can take a bit of solace in knowing their three game road trip ends next Sunday in St. Louis against the Rams.
The solace part comes in the fact that the Rams offense is as woeful as they come. They managed just 185 yards of offense against the Seahawks at home on Sunday.
Solace part two comes in the fact that the Cardinals beat the Rams three weeks ago in Glendale, Ariz.
A lot of work will need to be done next week in order to bounce back from this loss, and to get ready for another division rival.
A lot of people said the game against San Francisco was a measuring stick to see how the Cardinals stacked up against them. Based on the outcome, these two teams are miles apart from each other.