San Francisco-Northern California is known for its rainy days, and the San Francisco 49ers treated the Arizona Cardinals a throwback defensive football game, winning 23-7, and continued its dominance as the defense in the league, by causing five turnovers and improving its NFL West record to 9-1.
The 49ers (9-1) showered the Arizona Cardinals (3-7) with ground-and-pound football by rushing for 164 yards, including 80 yards by work-horse Frank Gore on 24 carries.
They displayed an air attack that showcased the capabilities of 49ers quarterback Alex Smith arm strength to zip passes to multiple receivers by completing 20 of 38 for 264 yards, and targeting Michael Crabtree ten times on Sunday.
Crabtree was given an opportunity to show he’s still one of the 49ers big play-makers, and he had an impressive day of 120 receiving yards and was happy to get back on track in the receiving core of production.
“We’re winning, and that’s all I think about,” Crabtree said. “We have some things to work on, but it feels good to win.”
Smith came into the game with a 7-1 home record in his past eight games and prior to playing the Cardinals he passed for 1,619 yards with 14 TDs and two interceptions for a 103.6 passer rating since October 10, 2010.
The connection between Smith and Michael Crabtree was electrifying on Sunday connecting on seven passes for 127 yards and a opening drive third down conversion 38-yard completion up the left sideline that started the Smith to Crabtree chemistry against the Cardinals.
It became more explosive throughout the day as Smith found Crabtree in the third quarter on a short pass, and he broke three tackles by powering through Cardinal tacklers and picked up 29 yards after the catch up to the 49ers’ 46-yard line.
The game started out with an interesting twist, because 49ers special teams had been playing flawless football and head coach Jim Harbaugh continued with his counter- punch mind-set always deferring the toss until the second half.
The defense forced Arizona into a three-and-out situation forcing a punt back to the 49ers’ 26-yard line.
The 49ers drove the ball down the field for a sure-footed David Ackers’ field goal from 46-yards out, but the kick was blocked by Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell.
The 49ers defense recovered quickly when 49ers Patrick Willis intercepted a pass on the Cardinals next possession to the Arizona 38-yard line setting up another Ackers field goal try that missed from 49-yards out.
The third drive allowed the Ackers’ to settle back into his routine in which he nailed a 22-yard field goal with 3:13 left in the first quarter giving the 49ers a 3-0 advantage. He booted two more field goals from 43 and 29 yards to give the 49ers a 9-0 lead heading into halftime.
Smith came out on fire in the second half and threw his first TD strike of 8-yards to Kyle Williams, then he hooked up with tight-end Vernon Davis for an 18-yard TD strike extending the 49ers lead to 23-0.
“We came out looking to put that first drive together and get back on track,” Smith said. “We all realized, especially on offense, how much we left out there, but we needed to come out and set that tone with that first drive of the (2nd ) half.”
The 49ers came out with a blast of fireworks in pre-game and the sparks kept flying into the start of the game. The defense played spectacular all day by producing five turnovers and setting the offense up with good field position, including interceptions by Willis, Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner continues to show the they have one of the best, if not the best defense in the NFL.
Harbaugh praised his defense for the victory, “our defense played extremely well,” Harbaugh said. “We won that game on the strength of a lot of things, but none more important that the turnovers we were able to get from the defense.”
Alex Smith came out in warm-ups and carried a serious vibe of confidence that carried over into his play during the game. The winning is a contagious virus, and the 49ers are wasting no time in getting the fever cured.
Davis’ touchdown was the 34th in his career, and it moved him past former 49er Brent Jones as the all-time TDs leader by a tight end in 49ers’ history
Davis, the 49ers captain, reiterated the 49ers are not focused on playoffs, but instead on the next game on the schedule.
“We take each game one game at a time,” Davis said. “Someone asked me are you thinking about the playoffs, and I said no, we can’t think about the playoffs because we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
The 49ers came out with a blast of fireworks in pre-game and the defense kept the sparks flying into the start of the game.
The defense played spectacular all day by producing five turnovers and setting up the offense with good field positions including interceptions by Willis, Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner, which continues to show they have one of the best, if not the best, defenses in the NFL.
Harbaugh praised his defense for the victory. “Our defense played extremely well,” he offered. “We won that game on the strength of a lot of things, but none more important than the turnovers we were able to get from the defense.”
The 49ers dominated time of possession 44:16 to 15:44 for the Cardinals, which is total dominance by NFL standards. They put up 433 total yards to 229 for the Cardinals and it’s making a believer out of any doubters that the 49ers are for real.
The team continued its destiny toward winning the NFC West, and build on its stance of hosting the NFC Playoff and Championship game, but it won’t buy into the hype and will continue to focus on one game at a time.
The 49ers have a short week of preparation as they meet the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving in a match-up better known as the “Harbaugh Bowl, ” between two brothers coaching their teams to tremendous success.
Written and submitted by Contributing Writer, Mike Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org)