In a season of bewildering losses, the San Francisco 49ers drubbing at the hands of the shorthanded Arizona Cardinals ranks among the most vexing. The Cardinals, sans their MVP candidate quarterback, top-tier wide receiver, and high-profile off-season defensive acquisition, ran away with a 31-17 win. At one point, the Cardinals led 31-7 and seemed quite content to allow a couple of scores in garbage time. The 49ers managed just 39 rushing yards and the Cardinals dominated the ball. San Francisco was favored by as many as five points before kickoff. Two of the offense’s first three possessions ended in fumbles, the second deep inside the red zone. Already down 14-0, the team desperately needed a shift in momentum. But when Brandon Aiyuk’s 22-yard reception ended with a fumble at the 8-yard line, the Cardinals seized control and never relinquished their grip on the game.
San Francisco 49ers Week 9 Game Sees Team Struggle Mightily Against Injury Riddled Arizona Cardinals
49ers Struggle on Both Sides of the Ball
Jimmy Garoppolo completed 28 of 40 passes for 326 yards and two scores and an inconsequential interception in the closing minutes of the game. The Cardinals brought constant pressure and sacked Garoppolo five times. As the team drifts further out of playoff contention, the support for an increase in reps for Trey Lance continues to fester. Kyle Shanahan has professed having patience and exercising caution with the third overall pick. Garoppolo edges out Lance in efficiency and still figures to give the Niners the best chance for a second-half turnaround.
Elsewhere on offense, George Kittle caught a touchdown and surpassed 100 yards receiving for the first time in 2021. Brandon Aiyuk finished with 89 yards on six catches and a touchdown. Both finished with lost fumbles that loom large over otherwise impressive stat lines. There were few other offensive standouts on the afternoon.
The defense disappointed against a depleted Cardinals offense, including 35-year-old career backup quarterback Colt McCoy taking over for the injured Kyler Murray. The Cardinals dominated the time of possession and rushed for 163 yards.
49ers Struggles Continue
The 49ers Week 9 loss drops them to 3-5 and leaves them tied for last in the NFC West once again. They find themselves firmly out of the race for a division title they began as legitimate contenders to win. In addition, the Niners remain winless at home on the year. The absences of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins seemed to present a golden opportunity to steal a win from an NFC powerhouse, but even the Cardinals reserves proved enough to secure a convincing win. It was, ironically, more dominant than their 17-10 win over the Niners in Week 5 in which Murray, Hopkins, and J.J. Watt all played.
Simply put, the 2021 season has fallen well off the rails in San Francisco. The Garoppolo era in the Bay Area seems doomed to end with a whimper. The team bears little resemblance to the NFC Champions of just two years ago, though the majority of the core of that team remains intact. A matchup with the Los Angeles Rams awaits on Monday Night Football in Week 10 with the 2-6 Jacksonville Jaguars on the schedule after that prime time game. If the 49ers faithful have learned anything this year, they will be plenty worried about the possibility of the lowly Jags stealing a win.