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Niners aftermath, and a sigh of relief

Posted by Darren Urban on November 29, 2015 – 10:10 pm

J.J. Nelson smiled. His thoughts on his soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback racing toward the end zone for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown?

“A sigh of relief,” Nelson said.

It’s hard to think of it any other way. This wasn’t like the 47-7 beatdown the Cardinals put on the 49ers back in September. San Francisco has a better quarterback behind center (I can’t believe I typed that, but it is true) than it did then. Still, the Cards only allowed 13 points. What was the cold water on the face Sunday was the Cards’ inability to consistently score and definitely the inability to generate a steady run game. That’s the first game all season Carson Palmer didn’t throw a touchdown pass. It’s so odd to think the Cards won the turnover battle for the first time a month-plus yet had to work so hard to finish off the Niners.

Here’s all you need to know: Bruce Arians gave the players a Victory Monday off — and immediately, Patrick Peterson jumped in and told the defensive players they have to be in by 11 Monday. “We’ve got to fix this,” he said.

— I’ve been wracking my brain since the sequence happened early in the second half, but I cannot remember a weirder sequence than the one during which the Cards scored their first touchdown – nor can I remember a sequence in both sides were frustrated.

It started with a first-and-goal at the SF 3. The Cardinals ended up running nine plays inside the 5. Four were from the 1. And the Cardinals couldn’t push it in. No worries – the 49ers were flagged for four penalties, including three pass interference calls, all of which were automatic first downs. The Cards even tried trickeration, putting Drew Stanton in at QB and splitting Palmer out wide as a receiver, only to have Stanton hand the ball to Chris Johnson for a one-yard loss.

— The plays spotlighted the short-yardage issues the Cards had all game trying to run. Ironic that the score eventually came via the ground, with David Johnson punching one over. But the line of scrimmage was not won by the Cardinals’ offensive line most of the game.

— The Cards ended up with bigger problems running backs-wise than just missed third-and-1 tries. Chris Johnson exited with a left knee injury, and on the same drive, Andre Ellington left with a right foot injury. Their status is TBD. There is a reason the Cardinals built their running back depth, and rookie David Johnson isn’t a bad guy to turn to if the other two are sidelined.

But it’s a concern. Johnson tweeted out a handful of praying hands emojis after the game, although he said he doesn’t think it’s serious. What he is praying about is left to the imagination for now. They will get fully evaluated back in Arizona. Johnson has had issues with his knee all week.

— Tyrann Mathieu was all over the field Sunday with 13 tackles and he picked off Gabbert. He wasn’t satisfied – he was upset he allowed the touchdown pass the 49ers had – but he continues to have an all-pro season.

— The thin cornerback corps could get thinner. Bruce Arians said the Cards are hoping Jerraud Powers’ injury is a calf and not an Achilles issue, but either way, it puts Justin Bethel up again. Thank goodness for the Cards that Patrick Peterson looked fine on his injured ankle.

— It turned out not to matter, but that missed extra point by Chandler Catanzaro really, really could’ve mattered. Cat Man sees again how you can go from hero to near-goat in an awful hurry as a kicker.

— Larry Fitzgerald had 14 targets and 10 catches. He never could get loose – with 66 yards, he is still eight yards shy of 1,000 for the season – but he became the short-yardage answer on third downs when the Cards realized they couldn’t run it.

— On eight run plays in which the Cardinals needed three yards or less, the Cards lost yards on five of them. They were stopped for no gain on two. The other was David Johnson’s one-yard TD at the end of that nine-plays-inside-the-5.

— The 49ers are ticked off about the officials. The Cardinals weren’t thrilled either, but certainly not to the level of the game’s loser. It was not a great day for the officials in terms of making things clear, but their calls impacted the game. No doubt about that. I didn’t get a chance to study the Dial hit on Palmer on replay, but it’s not surprising a flag would be thrown. That’s the NFL we live in these days.

— Wide receiver Smokey Brown looked better than he has in weeks, running full speed down the field, his hamstring apparently not a problem. “I’m almost there,” he said. He had five catches for 99 yards.

— The Seahawks came from behind to win. The Vikings won. It was an important day for the Cards not to give up ground. Now a trip to St. Louis, where physical is going to be the word of the day. More NFC West fun.

J.J. Nelson, Jimmie Ward


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Posted in Blog | 30 Comments »


30 Responses to “Niners aftermath, and a sigh of relief”

  1. By georgiebird on Nov 29, 2015 | Reply

    A win is a win – It’s so seldom the Cards get the refs’ calls like today. Over the many, many years I’ve watched the Cards, they were due a game like today. The 49er franchise has literally had 100s of games where the calls have gone in their favor. Eventually, the worm turns.

  2. By georgiebird on Nov 29, 2015 | Reply

    Getting back to the subject of extending player’s contracts. From what I’ve seen the last 3 weeks, there’s no one on this team that SK has to lock up right away. The only guy that has to be extended and extended is BA.

  3. By Steve on Nov 29, 2015 | Reply

    A tough ugly win but a win nevertheless, I’ll take it. Carson took some shots at the end but hung in there and made that great throw to J.J to help set up the winning score, thats what franchise QB’s can do when nothing else seems to be going right, still find a way to win.

  4. By C on Nov 29, 2015 | Reply

    Any insider reasoning why Watford isn’t playing guard in Cooper’s absence? Larsen was atrocious today, and when Sendlein is forced to help, it really exposes both positions nearly identically.

    Great to get a win, just hope this is the end of the injury bug for a while.

  5. By Darren Urban on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    C —

    RE: Larsen/Watford

    Simple really — there is more trust with Larsen at the guard spot right now.

  6. By dynosoar on Nov 29, 2015 | Reply

    3 of our next 5 games are against teams that are currently playoff bound. Vikings, Packers and Seahawks. We also have the Rams (this one scares me as QBs appear to get injured more against them than against anyone else, they remind me of the Raiders of old, “cut off the head and the snake dies”). If we get through next week with Palmer healthy I’ll feel a 100% more confident.

    We may still secure the number 1 seed, but we do have a tougher schedule ahead (based on win loss record and the Rams) than the Panthers.

    I actually relish the idea of facing the Panthers with Palmer, even in their stadium. They’re better than last playoff game for sure, but I think Palmer is a huge upgrade over Lindley and they barely won.

    I’ll take our chances. Just have to stay healthy next week and win a few more.

    One game at a time.

    The Lombardi trophy or Nothing at All!
    (And I’m tired of having nothing at all.)

  7. By dynosoar on Nov 29, 2015 | Reply

    georgiebird,

    if I could, I’d give you 101 thumbs up for your thoughts on extensions.

    BA and SK until they decide they’re ready to go. Perhaps after they each win a few rings together, I’d say five so they can have more than Brady.

  8. By dynosoar on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    And I thought our black uniforms were ugly! These looked worse than pop-warner.

  9. By Cardinal's Chick on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Oh my….so many of the games so far this season I’ve wondered how far they will go in the playoffs if they keep playing like that. With the schedule they have left they can’t afford to play like that and expect to get to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. A win is indeed a win…but geez already. They definitely are not boring to watch…frustrating yes…boring not at all.

  10. By Steve Connor on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Another gutty win but this time it was ugly. Next Sunday will b a big game against the Rams. We cant lose that one, bc in the rear-view mirror, the Hawks are playing better offense. We have to get a Bye in the first round, but that is putting the cart before the horse, got to win NFC West.

  11. By geggam on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Was at the game.

    Not sure if it was on TV but “Ref you suck” was chanted by the stadium for a bit🙂

  12. By Robert on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    hard to beleive the O line looked so bad..it reminded me of the old Cards…We will lose in St louis next week if we fail to run the ball. I would put Wattford in at RG if Cooper can’t play..Carson will get hurt if we can’t protect better. We are playing with fire..not being physical enough..no pressure on teh QB..We made another back up look like an all pro..

  13. By don on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    road win ,, in the division.. it was a thing of beauty !!!
    9ers , and their fans .
    have to be devastated by the manner in which they were defeated🙂
    huge concerns about the O-line .. they should have their assignments figured out by week 11 ..
    constant penetration destroyed our running attack.
    and CP never did look comfortable
    this isn’t what BA means by protect the QB ..
    defense was shredded again .. made Gabbert look like an all pro .
    and yet . they got a stop when they had too . and the offence found a way to score
    our group is resilient
    but execution was horrid . and it looked like we were lucky Hyde didn’t play
    don’t think Bethel is much of a drop from Powers
    our stellar secondary was very pedestrian .
    somehow . i don’t see Foles throwing 3 picks next week ..so if we don’t tighten things up , come ready to play .. we’re going to be 0-2 against the lambs …
    seems like our team has issues dealing with success
    maybe it would help . if they knew how many faces won’t be here next year ..
    GO CARDS ! ! ! !

  14. By Marcelof on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    This is just NOT the last trip Cardinals have made to Santa Monica this Season.
    They were getting adjusted to the environment😉

  15. By Marlin on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Gotta give it up for Lyle Sendlein. The dude is playing with a real bad shoulder and hurt it again and just sucked it up and was a stud in the last sequence. He is the toughest guy on this team.

  16. By Marlin on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Last two weeks……defensive big play guy at the end is Tony Jefferson. He is a restricted FA this offseason. Forget the qualifying offer….gotta lock him up long term….NOW!!!

  17. By Julie Jorgensen on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    I noticed the defense is coming in early to practice today to get things fixed. It’s not the defense that needs to fix things. Yesterday’s game was the worst offensive performance I’ve seen this year from the Cardinals. The offensive line needs to do a better job, period.

  18. By Dr H on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Carson always comes through…… needs to work on his spiking. Almost had a heart attack when he rolled after the spike!

  19. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    If that hit on Palmer was roughing the passer, then I’m not sure how you’re supposed to sack a QB any more. It was a bad call. Very fortunate for us. There were of course some questionable calls both ways but I’d say overall we can’t complain considering some of the ones that went our way.

    I suspect the worry warts will be out in full force about the fact that we didn’t beat the supposedly hapless Niners by 20-plus, but as I often try to remind people on this blog, no road game on the NFL is a gimme. I am happy to take a win on the road in any form, whether a blowout or a last-second FG. At least we never trailed, like in Cleveland. But yeah, as Darren mentioned, it’s weird that we struggled to beat them considering we won the turnover battle 2-0. Normally, a 2-0 turnover margin is what keeps a poor team in the game against a superior team, but you’d expect a blowout if the superior team is the one on the positive end of the turnover margin.

    The 49er defender dropping an INT in the end zone was awesome. Most 11 year old boys probably would’ve caught that ball.

  20. By 'ZonaFan89 on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    We obviously haven’t done a good job stretching before games again… Too many injuries due to not having organized team warm-ups before practice and games..🙂

  21. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Georgiebird —

    You will get more thumbs down than up I suspect, but I agree … I’ve heard the guys on 98.7 talk about how we need to lock up all these guys in the secondary… Powers, Johnson, Bethel, Jefferson (I think Tony is restricted and all the others are unrestricted). Would it be nice to keep them all? Of course, since they know the team and the system. But it’s ludicrous to think any of them can’t be replaced.

  22. By erik on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    A win is a win! I’m glad the calls went in our favor.

    Watford>Larsen
    Bethel>Powers

    I’m no coach but, this is how I see it. And it is not close.

  23. By Scott H on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    In regard to the officiating ( and my God, it was bad ), WHAT WAS THE DEAL on that early-game situation where they apparently couldn’t figure out what down it was??? Did anyone see this?? How is it possible that it took them so long to figure that out??

    We don’t even get a chance to enjoy this one ( nor was there much to enjoy about yesterday even if we did ). Seahawks won a game I was hoping they would lose and the Vikings are now making a case for their division and maybe even more. Nothing is assured and nothing is going to be given to us. Winning yesterday merely kept us right where we were.

    And now we get ready to go to St Louis. This team better get back on the clock. I’m surprised they were given off today….because they pretty much took the day off yesterday. I am hoping that yesterday gave them the slap in the face they need because they need to shake that one off. Quick. Hoping that having a team coming up that has already beaten them this year gets them focused and back in the right mind-set. They were NOT ready for that game yesterday. Or, at the very least, they were not motivated for that game yesterday. Maybe they were taken off guard by how hard San Fran came at them. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. They need to get their Sunday Night Football groove back.

    I’d imagine the Rams are going to be looking at LOTS of film from yesterday to see what was so effective in shutting this offense down. And, or course, they can also look at the film from the game they already won against us a few months back.

  24. By MikeFlorio on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    What a dog fight- Thats to be expected against any of our division rivals. A grind it out, defensive; run the ball waste time win we needed.

    Our division is strong and I am proud of our team and our performance.

  25. By krehbieo14 on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Julie-

    I agree with you. The OLine was atrocious. According to PFF, Larsen had a -6.9 performance rating! I guess we miss Cooper. Goodwin should have the offense in today rectifying their run and pass protection. Until this problem is fixed, we will needlessly be a one trick pony.

  26. By rod on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Maybe I am mis-remembering but I thought when Watford was in for Massie for those first couple of games I thought the line was waaaay better. I just can’t believe this guy isn’t in there in some starting roll.

  27. By Mike G on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Yo Darren–Hope all is cool! Big win on the road at SF yesterday. I thought the game was going to be a dog-fight and it was. Given the fact that the Card’s have not won there in years coupled with the rivalry and familiarity factor no one should be surprised for a struggling win. Thought the refs were bad for both sides yesterday– just let them play. Cards need to improve short yardage runs – it hurt them yesterday. Cards won the turnover stat & won the time of possession which was a big factor in the win. Hope the injured players respond and that it is not a long term thing! Hey Darren–Thought Red Bryant did a pretty good job when in there yesterday clogging SF’S run game!!! Hope Bettcher and D staff were happy with his play???

  28. By Darren Urban on Nov 30, 2015 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Red Bryant

    http://www.azcardinals.com/news-and-events/article-2/With-Running-Backs-Hurting-David-Johnson-Up/ee76d1b0-463a-4432-8066-d89437d33b25

  29. By clssylssy on Dec 1, 2015 | Reply

    I don’t think anyone will say this was a “great” team win, but, even though it was a “W”, it feels less and less like a “legit” win when the media and now Mike Pereira is stating that the roughing call on Dial that gave the Cards the go ahead to win (he apparently also has a crystal ball) was questionable at best, and shouldn’t have been called. The officiating was horrendous for both teams and not just in this game, but, apparently this was the game the media decided to highlight.
    There are going to be missed and bad calls in every game and nothing annoys me more than a team playing the victim and not holding themselves accountable for mistakes and screw ups. The 9ers played a hard fought game but now that seems lost and their effort negated by the whining coming out of Santa Clara or, more likely, exaggerated by the media. The issues surrounding this seasons officiating incompetence are supposed to be addressed at the Owner’s meeting in Dallas, and I hope that Mr. Bidwill will be aggressive in support of full-time officials with continuing professional education requirements as the current situation is not good for anyone except maybe the sports media gossip rags, and shouldn’t be rocket science!

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