RECAP: 49ers beat Cardinals 20-16

This is the first time since the Niners win I have been able to post an update.  Life gets in the way sometimes…

The 49ers defeated the reigning NFC champion Cardinals on Sunday 20-16.  While it wasn’t the greatest of games played by the Niners in recent years, in the end it was a win.  There were many positives: Shaun Hill managed the game effectively and he led the team on what turned out to be the game-winning drive with over seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter;  The 49ers D showed that they are capable of sacking the quarterback and having a pass rush the whole game (3 sacks in the game);  The rest of the defense plays extremely well when the D-line constantly gives the QB pressure and they can make turnovers (2 INT’s by Nate Clements and Patrick Willis);  And the fact they held onto the lead after going up 20-16 with plenty of time for Kurt Warner to make a comeback was huge.

But there were negatives in the win that cannot be overlooked:  The offensive line did not play well.  They were supposed to be one of the better groups on the roster but were over matched throughout the game (Hill was sacked four times);  Frank Gore only averaged 1.4 yards on 22 carries and totaled 30 rushing yards (but he did have a rushing and passing TD);  Most importantly the Cardinals D played eight to nine defensive players in the box and the offensive line and Gore could not get past them.  This was disconcerting because teams will study how the Cardinals D over matched Gore and the offensive line and they will perfect on what the Cardinals did not do correctly.  The O-line needs to step up it’s play if the 49ers want to contend in the NFC West, the Seahawks are better and the Cardinals are still the Cardinals in that they can win the division.  The only pass I give to the O-line is that Adam Snyder and David Baas both missed time during training camp with injuries.  Regardless though if you do not produce Mike Singletary will replace you with someone who will.  Another thing that worried me was the 49ers inability to close out the game after going up 13-3 late in the second quarter.  Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye needs to figure out why his offense was dormant between scores from the 2:23 minute mark in the second quarter until the fourth quarter with 7:26 left on the clock.  The other playoff contending teams the 49ers will face this year will beat the Red and Gold every time if they cannot close it out the game on their own.

My favorite three moments of the game:

1.  Justin Smith ending the game by sacking Warner as the Cards tried to score and win the game in the final seconds.  Seeing Kentwan Balmer rushing from the outside and occupying blockers that allowed Smith to sack Warner and force a fumble showed the D can get to the quarterback and more importantly they can do it when the game is on the line.

2.  Gore’s three yard game-winning touchdown reception with 7:26 to go in the game.  The Cards D was playing well all game and seemed to have the whole defense watching Gore on every play but when it mattered most, amazingly no one was covering Gore on the right flat.  Game-winning touchdown.

3.  The 49ers receivers stepping up showing, at least for one game, they don’t need any additional help at wide receiver.  Hill spread the ball around to all of his receivers:  Isaac Bruce- 4 receptions, 74 yards, Vernon Davis- 5 receptions, 40 yards, Josh Morgan- 3 receptions, 38 yards.  The 49ers receiving corps needs to keep this up if they want to make the 49er Faithful believe they do not need a certain unsigned rookie receiver.  Watching Bruce catch a 50-yard reception to set-up their first touchdown of the day was awesome.  He is still a force at wide receiver.

Next Week:

The 49ers home opener will be against the resurgent Seahawks.  Even though the Seahawks played against the hapless Lams on Sunday they showed Matt Hasselback is back in full form and they have a good rushing attack with Julies Jones.  The 49ers have a great opportunity to go up 2-0 in the division and pull a full game in front of the Cards, Rams and Seahawks in the NFC West.  That will only happen if their offensive line corrects the many mistakes they made in week 1.

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Tags: 49ers 49ers 2009 Week 1 49ers Offensive Coordinator 49ers Quarterback Frank Gore Jimmy Raye Josh Morgan Justin Smith Kentwan Balmer Mike Singletary Nate Clements Patrick Willis RECAP: 49ers Beat Cardinals 20-16 San Francisco 49ers Shaun Hill Vernon Davis

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