It was, in a lot of ways, seconds from the perfect quarter for the Cardinals. They had withstood two early Carson Palmer interceptions and the defense somehow allowed almost nothing in stoning the 49ers right where they were before two measly field goals, They had withstood 171 yards receiving in the first half from tight end Vernon Davis.
(Another tight end. Truly an Achilles heel this season.)
But they were down just eight at the half, and they stopped the Niners on a three-and-out when Tyrann Mathieu pulled down the much bigger Colin Kaepernick on a run. Then came a nine-play TD drive capped by a Michael Floyd 10-yard scoring catch. Then came another three-and-out. And the Cards embarked on another long drive, surely to end with points and a lead and after 11 plays … Fitz lost the fumble.
Now, after the Fitz fumble, the 49ers were still stuck at their own 11. Another three-and-out – and at that point, it’s not like the defense was tired – and the Cards could have overcome. But it didn’t play out that way. Frankly, if you would have said before Sunday the Cards would have four turnovers, I would have expected a major blowout. Is it progress? Not really. As Bruce Arians said, close means nothing. (I’m paraphrasing.) But if the Cards can bottle that third quarter – most of it, anyway – that’d be progress.
— Of Palmer’s first six passes, two were incomplete (one of those being nearly intercepted), two were caught for two and three yards, respectively, and two were intercepted. An awful start. It seemed like a chance for Drew Stanton at some point, and indeed, after the second pick, Stanton took off the baseball cap he usually wears on the sideline and put on his helmet.
But Palmer steadied himself. After the second interception, Palmer completed 23-of-35 passes for 293 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. That’s a passer rating of 110.8. The Cards are lucky the poor start didn’t bury them. But you see Palmer calmly talking to Tom Moore after the second pick and realize, Palmer truly is able to move past mistakes quickly.
— Scary moment for defensive end Calais Campbell, although it looks like he will be OK. I was stunned when the crowd at Candlestick started the Wave while Campbell was being put on a stretcher. Clearly, it wasn’t everyone in the stands, but it was more than just a few. It was nice to see so many 49ers players and others in the organization talk about how dumb it was. Because it was.
— Fitz had a very good game, but we’ll see if his right hamstring can hold up for a Thursday game. He was moving slowly after the game.
— Vernon Davis ended up with eight catches for 180 yards, again with 171 of those yards in the first half. The Cards had a few different players on him in the first half – linebacker Karlos Dansby, cornerback Jerraud Powers and safety Yeremiah Bell among them.
“Vernon is a tough matchup,” Bell said. “You’re going to win some and you are going to lose some.”
— Andre Ellington another very good game. Explosive 15-yard touchdown run. Averaged eight yards on seven rushes, got 36 yards on five catches. He’s become a major weapon, although I guess I could stop saying that.
— Brittan Golden was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad this week in place of Kerry Taylor. Wondered what he had showed. Uh yeah, apparently it was speed. Lots of it. He looks like that take-the-top-off-the-defense guy that Taylor couldn’t be and like none of the other receivers are.
“It was great to get the first catch,” said Golden, whose 53-yard bomb set up Ellington’s TD run. “It sucks that we lost. I know everyone when we walked out, we felt we could win the game. With the situation, it’s a little bittersweet.”
— After the Floyd touchdown, the Cardinals went for two to try and tie it. There was about eight minutes left in the third quarter. The Cards ran the same pitch and reverse-field pass play by Patrick Peterson. His pass was eventually incomplete.
“At that point and time it was the time to do it,” Arians said. “The play was open. Patrick just didn’t see it soon enough.”
Fitzgerald was open initially but Peterson didn’t throw the pass. The miss also left the Cards down nine after the 49ers’ long fourth-quarter TD drive.
— OK. It’s late, it’s a short week, and there’s lot to do. That’s a wrap for tonight.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Brittan Golden, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Niners, Patrick Peterson, Vernon Davis, Yeremiah Bell
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