The Arizona Cardinals upset the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium this past Sunday, toppling the defending NFC champs 24-20.
Fell short in the season opener.
Takeaways from #AZvsSF 👇
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 14, 2020
The loss was a disappointing start to the 49ers’ 2020 campaign, who had high expectations heading into the season.
While the Niners were favored by seven points, last year’s games should have indicated a much closer contest.
Divisional matchups tend to be a struggle regardless of the record or talent difference, and such was the case yesterday.
Arizona’s playmakers stepped up in crucial moments, while San Francisco’s faltered in the limelight.
As a result, the 49ers find themselves at the bottom of the NFC West as the only winless team.
The game looked to be a blowout after the first quarter, with the 49ers offense moving the ball at will.
Despite not having two of their top wide receivers in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco continually picked up first downs.
Kyle Shanahan, known for deploying multiple running backs, relied on Raheem Mostert to make big plays.
He was a dynamic force, even taking a short Jimmy Garoppolo completion 76 yards for a touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) September 13, 2020
He led the team in both rushing and receiving with 151 yards of total offense.
Jerick McKinnon was a keg cog of the offense gameplan as well and even caught a touchdown pass.
McKinnon had missed almost three years of football due to a myriad of injuries but looked explosive with his touches.
George Kittle was his typical self early on, accumulating 53 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter alone.
However, there were a few turning points that flipped the narrative of the game.
Mostert failed to convert a four-and-goal opportunity from the one-yard line that would have given the Niners a 10 point lead early in the second quarter.
Garoppolo also missed a wide-open Kittle just before halftime, and Kittle’s efforts to catch the ball lead to a knee injury.
The bad pass by Jimmy Garoppolo that got George Kittle limping to the sidelines.pic.twitter.com/zp9CvUS4Qc
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 13, 2020
He eventually returned, but he was clearly hobbled and did not record even a target the rest of the way.
More concerning was Garoppolo’s inconsistent delivery and missed opportunities.
Though his final stat line of 19 for 33 with 259 yards and two touchdowns is adequate, further examination uncovers his poor play.
The 49ers’ quarterback routinely made questionable decisions and failed to capitalize on a chance to win the game.
Garoppolo takes just a little too much off this ball, missing wide open Kendrick Bourne in EZ late pic.twitter.com/FPlJbiam82
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 14, 2020
Luckily, the Niners face another weak pass defense in Week 2 against the New York Jets, so perhaps he can make some adjustments and right the ship.
The 49ers defense played well but not quite at the level it performed at last year.
They were stout in the first quarter, holding the Arizona offense to just seven points and 24 total yards.
Their only hiccup came when a blocked punt led to a quick Kyler Murray to Chase Edmonds touchdown pass.
Otherwise, they kept Murray in check and did not let new Cardinals acquisition, DeAndre Hopkins, from imposing his will.
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) September 13, 2020
After intermission, though, is where things began to fall apart.
Perhaps mitigated by the poor air quality from the surrounding wildfires in the Bay Area, the defense could no longer contain Arizona’s dynamic weapons.
Murray slashed and dashed his way to 91 yards on the ground, finding gaps in the defense to run through.
Hopkins dominated the receiving volume, finishing with 16 targets, 14 receptions, and 151 yards.
The 49ers threw everything they had at the All-Pro wide receiver, but even Richard Sherman could not contain him.
San Francisco gave up two touchdowns on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter, with the latter factoring in as the deciding score.
The defense will have a chance to regroup against the aforementioned Jets next Sunday, who are amongst the worst teams in the whole league.