The road to the playoffs just hit a speed bump for the Arizona Cardinals, as they fell to the San Francisco 49ers 20-12 Saturday evening in Glendale, Arizona.
The two last played in September, with the Cardinals leaving Santa Clara victorious. Kyler Murray was a big reason for the victory completing 26 passes on 40 attempts for 230 yards while rushing for 91 yards with three total touchdowns.
It looked a little different this time around, with Murray completing 31 passes on 50 attempts for 247 yards while rushing for 75 yards and no touchdowns. The 49ers defense was in Murray’s face all game long, dropping the Cardinals’ quarterback for three sacks with five quarterback hits.
C.J. Beathard has a game
C.J. Beathard made his first start since 2018 for the 49ers. Beathard completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards on his way to earning his second victory of his career.
It was an emotional victory for Beathard as C.J. dedicated the game to his brother Clay Beathard who was fatally stabbed outside of a bar in Nashville, Tennessee last December.
Beathard’s first touchdown came towards the end of the first quarter, with Beathard firing a 21-yard pass to Jeff Wilson Jr. Beathard’s other two touchdowns were to Kyle Juszczyk in the second half. The first one came on a nine-yard pass with 5:13 left to play in the third. The second came on a one-yard strike with 8:36 left to play in the fourth quarter.
Jeff Wilson Jr. also had a day, rushing for 183 yards on 22 carries.
In George Kittle’s return to action, he caught four passes for 92 yards on five targets. In Brandon Aiyuk’s return to Arizona, he had one rush for 16 yards and caught one pass for 15-yards.
San Francisco defense dominates against Arizona
49ers’ defensive coordinator Robert Saleh might have just earned his first shot at as head coach in the NFL. This might have been San Francisco’s best defensive performance all season, with the Cardinals just scoring 12 points on 80 plays for 350 yards.
Two of the Cardinals three scores came on a 43-yard and 27-yard field goals from Mike Nugent.
Kenyan Drake just FLEW into the endzone! ✈️
📺 @SkySportsNFL | NFL Game Pass | @AZCardinals pic.twitter.com/93zaQD19RQ
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) December 26, 2020
The Cardinals one and only touchdown came early in the fourth quarter, with Kenyan Drake getting into the endzone on a one-yard score. Drake finished the game with 45 yards on 18 carries. Murray couldn't connect with DeAndre Hopkins on the 2-point conversion and the 49ers still led 14-12.
The Cardinals' next offensive drive stalled at their 35 when they went for it on fourth-and-2. Another Murray-to-Hopkins attempt couldn't connect, and the 49ers took over on downs.
A Ahkello Witherspoon interception would bring a 10-play drive to a halt for the Cardinals, leaving 4:42 on the clock.
The Cardinals remained in the game due to kicking issues from Robbie Gould. Gould missed his first field goal to open the third quarter from 41-yards out. His second missed field goal would be from 37-yards out, leaving Arizona with 1:09 on the clock in the fourth quarter.
Linebacker Haason Reddick (hamstring) left the game in the first quarter but returned early in the second quarter. He leads the team with 12 1/2 sacks this season. Running back Chase Edmonds (hip) left the game in the first half and didn't return.
The biggest injury scare came at the end of the game, with Kyler Murray shaken up on the final offensive play of the game. Murray gingerly walked off the field after being evaluated by trainers. While being evaluated, the trainers were looking at his right leg.
Arizona (8-7) no longer controls their playoff destiny. If the Chicago Bears win their final two games, Chicago would own the tie breaker and win the final spot in the NFC Playoffs. Arizona will take on the Los Angeles Rams (9-5) next week on the road in Los Angeles. Each team will be fighting for their playoff chances and hopes. The Rams defeated the Cardinals in week 13.
San Francisco (6-9) will close out their season against the Seattle Seahawks (10-4) in a home game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.