It was a game of back-and-forth that ultimately resulted in the San Francisco 49ers pulling off a 36-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, despite a struggling start. Both of the 49ers final two scores came with under :40 seconds left on the clock. Kyle Shanahan described his team best, calling the 49ers resilient following the comeback victory.
"A lot of ups and downs in that (win)," Shanahan said." There were definitely some good things and there were some really bad things. It actually reminded me a lot of Monday Night, to where there were some things we got very excited about and then it felt like you blew it a number of times to where you kind of get crushed. The guys were just resilient and just kept coming. We were able to finish out the right way unlike we did last week. Two similar games like that and by no means was it perfect, but real proud of the guys how they just kept fighting. Found a way to get it done."
San Francisco's 16-point comeback victory is the largest regular season come-from-behind win by the 49ers since Oct. 2011 at Philadelphia Eagles when they trailed 3-23 in the third quarter. Here are 13 takeaways from the 49ers roller coaster win:
1. The Cardinals managed to score on each of their three first drives. Here's a synopsis:
- The Cardinals first series nearly ended in a punt, when Kliff Kingsbury challenged a deep pass in the end zone intended for Christian Kirk. The 41-yard penalty moved the Cardinals to the 49ers 2-yard line. An offensive pass interference penalty followed by two big plays by DeForest Buckner (Kyler Murray tackle) and Jimmie Ward (pass breakup in the end zone) forced a Cardinals field goal.
- Penalties were the same story on the ensuing drive. Richard Sherman was flagged for the second-straight drive putting Arizona inside the 49ers 10-yard line. On 2nd-and-goal, Murray connected with Larry Fitzgerald for a 5-yard touchdown. A missed extra point put the Cardinals up 9-0.
- The 49ers granted the Cardinals a short field following an unsuccessful fourth down attempt. Murray found receiver Pharoh Cooper for a 7-yard touchdown to extend the lead 16-0.
2. San Francisco's offense struggled to get in a rhythm in the first quarter, registering just one first down which came by way of a penalty. However, the 49ers battled back in the second quarter. Under pressure, Jimmy Garoppolo connected with Richie James Jr. as blockers led him to a 57-yard pickup. On the ensuing play, Kyle Juszczyk made his second reception of the game, a 14-yard gain to move the offense to the 4-yard line. On 3rd-and-4, Garoppolo found tight end Ross Dwelley who filled in for George Kittle (knee, ankle) for the score, the first touchdown of his career. With Garoppolo's pass, the quarterback has now thrown touchdowns to 11 different receivers this season. More to come on Garoppolo and Dwelley.
3. On San Francisco's ensuing series, the 49ers drove down the field with the aid of back-to-back penalties on Arizona's defense, a 23-yard completion to Deebo Samuel and a 14-yard pickup by Emmanuel Sanders. Garoppolo found Dwelley in the end zone again, however the score was nullified due to an offensive holding call. The 49ers settled for a field goal to cut the lead to 16-10 going into the half.
4. Tevin Coleman opened up the second half with a 37-yard catch-and-run. Under pressure, Garoppolo lobbed the ball to Coleman as the running back made his way up the left sideline to midfield. The drive capped off with a 5-yard touchdown, again, to Dwelley, his second of the game and his career.
5. On San Francisco's ensuing drive, Garoppolo was intercepted by Arizona linebacker Jordan Hicks. San Francisco's defense managed to hold Arizona to a field goal, as the Cardinals regained the lead, 19-17.
6. San Francisco responded with a 10-play 75-yard drive that culminated in a 2-yard touchdown reception by Kendrick Bourne. Samuel highlighted the drive with a bobbled 26-yard pickup in double coverage. Juszczyk caught back-to-back receptions for a gain of nine and seven yards, respectively, to move the 49ers inside their own 10. On the next play, Garoppolo connected with Bourne in the back of the endzone to regain the lead.
Juszczyk caught all seven of his targets in Week 11, a career-high.
7. Following a 22-yard touchdown by Murray and a Garoppolo interception in the red zone, San Francisco ran a two-minute offense while trailing 26-23 that included quick passes to Bourne, Samuel, Marquise Goodwin and Dwelley to move the 49ers into scoring position. On 1st-and-10 from their own 25 yard line, Garoppolo connected with Jeff Wilson Jr. on a slant to the house to retake the lead, his fifth touchdown of the season.
"That was the route we liked him on," Shanahan said. "Something that we worked out with him in the week. All of our guys are capable of doing it, but you try to do it how you practice it in the week. It was nice that we had enough time afterwards so we could make the decision to get the sub in. It was neat watching him just because that was the play we were calling as long as we got the first. When they were reviewing it and watching Jeff do high knees in the huddle, trying to get warmed up for the route. Glad he had the time to get loose, because we got it versus the right look and he beat it versus zero and good job by Jimmy retreating because they brought a lot more than we could block. The O-Line gave him enough time and Jeff did his job perfect on it."
8. San Francisco's defense came up big again with a game-sealing takeaway. Murray completed a pass to KeeSean Johnson when the ball was forced out of the receivers hands. Damontre Moore, who was signed to the team on Wednesday, knocked the ball out of Johnson's hands and was recovered by Jaquiski Tartt. San Francisco's offense managed to run down the clock to :11 seconds before giving the ball back to Arizona.
9. On Arizona's final play of the game, (and the most bizarre play of the game) Murray pitched the ball to Fitzgerald who lobbed a backwards pass to his offensive lineman. The pass fell to the ground as several members of the 49ers rushed to retrieve the fumbled ball which was ultimately recovered by D.J. Reed Jr. and returned for a touchdown.
10. Arik Armstead recorded his team-leading eighth sack of the season. Ward, Buckner and Dee Ford also each recorded a sack on the day.
11. Samuel recorded his second-straight 100-yard game. The rookie wideout caught eight passes for 134 yards on Sunday. Samuel has registered 16 catches for 246 yards in his last two games. Samuel is the first rookie in franchise history with eight or more receptions and 100-plus yards in back-to-back games. The last rookie in the NFL to do so was Odell Beckham Jr. (four straight games).
"Deebo Samuel is fearless," Sherman said postgame. "He'll run through any catch. You get some receivers running across the middle and they're looking for who's going to hit them. Deebo is looking for who he's going to hit. That's a much different mentality from most people. It's almost like you expect him to break the tackle when he catches the football. It takes a tremendous amount of trust in your quarterback. A tremendous amount of trust in your abilities to be able to play like that. Some of the plays they're drawing up is him running into traffic. It's him running into a safety who's breaking and it could be a huge hit and he's not wincing, he's not crunching up he's running through catching the ball and keeps going. That's fearlessness that can't be coached, that can't be caught. You either have it or you don't."
12. Despite the slow start (four yards in the first quarter), Garoppolo put up a career-high 424 yards on 34-of-45 passes and tied for a career-high four touchdowns against the Cardinals.
13. As far as injuries, Emmanuel Moseley was dealing with cramps and returned. K'Waun Williams dealt with a stinger and Samuel suffered a shoulder injury, both returning to the contest. Sanders (ribs) and Ford (hamstring) did not return to the game.