The opportunistic 49ers defense took advantage of Kyler Murray and the Cardinals when Charvarius Ward notched a pick-six touchdown.
One of the Arizona Cardinals' strategies in Week 15 was to maintain aggressiveness against the San Francisco 49ers with the hope of turning a three-win season into one with at least four wins.
Cornerback Charvarius Ward and the 10-win Niners weren't having any of that, though.
Sure, Arizona got off to solid start with a methodical seven-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 2-yard rushing touchdown by running back James Conner. Yet San Francisco answered back with quarterback Brock Purdy hitting wide receiver Deebo Samuel for a game-tying touchdown in the middle of the first quarter to make things 7-7.
With the Cardinals looking to respond and turn things into a shootout, Ward took advantage.
Charvarius Ward picks off Kyler Murray, returns it 66 yards for 49ers defensive TD
Ward, who was listed as questionable with a groin injury entering the game, helped ensure Arizona's aggressiveness did not pay off early.
On a 4th-and-3 play from the 49ers' 42-yard line, Ward jumped the route on a pass from Murray and pulled in his third interception of the year.
What was more impressive, though, was how Ward showed off some serious speed while evading would-be Cardinals tacklers all the way into the end zone for a 66-yard score:
According to Next Gen Stats, Ward reached a top speed of 20.64 miles per hour on the play. And it was the first pick-six of his career and the first the Niners recorded this season.
Ward is playing like a bona fide Pro Bowler and perhaps even a first-team All-Pro this season, and he currently leads the NFL with 20 passes broken up.
The interception returned for a touchdown should only increase his stock value as one of the league's top corners.
Meanwhile, the Niners look to expand on their early 14-7 lead over Arizona in Week 15.