49ers defensive tackle Arik Armstead had a would-be sack, but an awfully questionable facemask penalty negated a key third-down stop versus the Cardinals.
The San Francisco 49ers shouldn’t need a lot of breaks against a shorthanded Arizona Cardinals squad in Week 9, particularly with the Cardinals missing quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who were both out with injuries.
This meant the Niners would have to outduel backup quarterback Colt McCoy, who hasn’t tossed a pass this season and hasn’t started since 2020 when he was with the New York Giants.
Advantage San Francisco, right?
Well, not so much.
Arizona got out to a 7-0 lead after the 49ers dealt with some notable issues, including a fumble by tight end George Kittle that led to the red birds’ first points. But on the following Cardinals possession, it was the officials who helped out Arizona.
49ers DE Arik Armstead flagged for a garbage call vs. Cardinals
On a 3rd-and-9 play at the Niners’ 49-yard line, McCoy looked to convert the first down but was sacked by defensive tackle Arik Armstead in what looked like a clean play, Armstead’s second sack of the season.
But after a long delay, the officials tossed a flag and decided Armstead grabbed McCoy’s facemask, penalizing San Francisco 15 yards and giving the Cardinals a first down.
Following that ludicrous call, Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury called for a trick play, which saw wide receiver Christian Kirk toss a 33-yard pass to depth wide receiver Antoine Wesley, which got the ball down to the 49ers’ 1-yard line.
Then, running back James Conner pushed it in for both his and Arizona’s second touchdown of the game to increase the lead to 14-0 over the Niners.
Ugly chain of events.
True, San Francisco bears some blame for its sluggish start, including Kittle’s fumble and continued problems on third downs.
Considering the 49ers’ other struggles, however, not having the officials call a clean game won’t help matters at all.