The San Francisco 49ers took their perfect 7-0 record to Arizona to take on the Cardinals Thursday night. With a win, the Niners would finish up the first half of its schedule undefeated.
On the other hand, Arizona had won three of four since starting the season 0-3-1. A game that started with the Cardinals putting up a touchdown on their first possession culminated in the 49ers winning the game, 28-25.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers from San Francisco’s eighth consecutive victory to open the season.
Despite his team’s perfect record, Garoppolo had been inconsistent through the first seven games of the season. He responded with the best performance as a Niner. Garoppolo completed 17-of-21 passes for 172 yards with three touchdowns in the first half.
Avoiding the mistakes that plagued him earlier in the season, Garoppolo threw dart after dart in connecting on all but nine of his 37 attempts for 317 yards and a career-high four touchdowns with zero interceptions. If he continues to play like this, the 49ers are going to be nearly unbeatable moving forward.
No Staley— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) November 1, 2019
Jimmy Garoppolo delivers. 8-0. pic.twitter.com/BbGrqcT2Kq
It’s hard to do much when your quarterback puts up 15 net passing yards in the first two quarters. That’s been a common theme against the 49ers’ defense this season. Even so, this future Hall of Famer was shut out in the first half going up against young 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley.
Fitz finished with four receptions for 38 yards as he stepped it up in the second half. Fitzgerald has caught just seven passes for 58 yards over the past three games. Kyler Murray needs more from his No. 1 target.
Acquired from Miami on Monday, Drake had no time to learn Arizona’s playbook. But with injuries to both Chase Edmonds and David Johnson, he was thrusted into a starting role. Drake responded by putting up a 36-yard run on just his second play from scrimmage. He later ended that opening drive with a touchdown run.
Drake finished his Cardinals debut with 162 total yards on 19 touches. He looked absolutely dynamic in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. As a potential long-term option, this is no small thing.
Kenyan Drake reaches 100 yards rushing in his first game with the @AZCardinals #RedSea @KDx32— NFL (@NFL) November 1, 2019
: #SFvsAZ on @NFLNetwork | @NFLonFOX | @PrimeVideo
How to watch: https://t.co/I6INVckndX pic.twitter.com/EsZCebI1ba
After a four-touchdown performance in a blowout win over Carolina last week, Coleman could not get his footing against a questionable Cardinals rush defense Thursday night.
Coleman put up 23 yards on 12 attempts. He also lost a fumble in the third quarter, one that was reversed on replay, and dropped a would-be first down in the fourth quarter. That inconstancy hurt San Francisco.
We saw early and often just how much Sanders changes the dynamic of San Francisco’s offense. Remember, he scored a touchdown in his first drive as a member of the team last week. Sanders responded Thursday by catching 7-of-9 targets for 112 yards with a touchdown.
Sanders has provided Garoppolo with a consistent receiving threat that doesn’t drop balls. Given how much this group has struggled in that category since the quarterback joined San Francisco, it’s no small thing.
Shockingly, the Cardinals decided to have Peterson follow Sanders around the field. It was just Peterson's third game back from suspension.
However, it wasn’t Peterson’s play against Sanders that makes him a loser here. The veteran was burned by Dante Pettis on a third-quarter touchdown to put Arizona behind the proverbial eight-ball down by two touchdowns. As the leader of this defense, Peterson simply needs to be better.
Despite suffering a minor knee injury early in the first quarter and not being able to finish the game, Kittle put up another stellar performance. That included this brilliant 30-yard catch-and run for a touchdown. The Pro Bowler ultimately tallied six catches for 79 yards.
Kittle is San Francisco’s major cog on offense. Every defense knows this. Despite that, opposing teams simply can’t contain the record-setting tight end. It’s been something to behold.
It became clear early on that the Cardinals had to change their strategy on offense to counteract an elite 49ers pass rush. That included doubling Nick Bosa on pretty much every play. Even then, the likes of D.J. Humphries and Justin Pugh struggled big time.
Kyler Murray was sacked three times and scrambled for his life all game. Couple that with multiple holding penalties, and this unit just wasn’t up to the task against San Francisco.
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