Arizona pieced together an 18-play, 62 yard drive finished by a Neil Rackers' 30-yard field goal to make it a two-score game just after the two-minute warning.
Trailing by 10, J.T. O'Sullivan was sacked by Travis LaBoy, and fumbled the ball which was recovered by Arizona. The 49ers did get the ball back with 16 seconds, but one play was not going to do it as the Cardinals won the season opener 23-13.
Joe Nedney's 30-yard field goal with 12:05 left in the game had helped pull the 49ers to within a touchdown (20-13). The score capped off a 13-play, 60-yard drive, a possession that started with just under four minutes left in the third quarter, and marked the first offensive series for the 49ers in the second half.
Arizona proceeded to then piece together their long drive which ate ten minutes off the clock. In all, the 49ers offense possessed the ball for just over seven minutes in the second half.
Arizona captured a 20-10 advantage with back to back scores in the third quarter.
Arizona opened the second half with a 15-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 31-yard Neil Rackers field goal to take a 13-10 lead with 8:25 to go in the third quarter.
Linebacker Takeo Spikes muffed the ensuing short intentional kickoff and Arizona recovered at the 33-yardline. The Cardinals needed 8 plays to score on a 1-yard touchdown run by Tim Hightower. The drive was kept alive by a late-hit penalty on Kurt Warnery by Ray McDonald. The re-play showed a legitimate pass rush, earning loud boos from the Candlestick Park crowd. Nonetheless, on an eventual 4th and 1, Arizona went for it and got the touchdown.
Despite three turnovers in the first half, the 49ers managed to make a tied 10-10 game at the half.
Arizona scored first in the game with a quick opening drive that was set up by a 17-yard punt return by Breaston. Starting from his own 40, Warner found Fitzgerald for a short pass that Fitzgerald gained 21 yards on by putting a move on Manny Lawson and Walt Harris. On 3rd and 7, Patrick Willis and Dashon Goldson laid a hit on tight end Leonard Pope right under the goal post to make certain of an incompletion. Neil Rackers' 25-yard field goal finished the 7-play, 33-yard drive.
The 49ers opened the game with a three and out, followed by a turnover that set Arizona up at the 11-yardline. Gore had fumbled on his first down carry, but Adam Snyder fortunately recovered for San Francisco. But on the next play, fullback Zak Keasey caught a short pass and then fumbled the ball when he was drilled by Darnell Dockett.
Arizona would have had a first down at the 1-yardline, but tackle Mike Gandy dove into the pile at the end of the play to instead bring Neil Rackers on for a 35-yard field goal that he missed, allowing the 49ers to escape the turnover.
The offense came out on the next drive determined to amend for the mistake, and gained a 7-3 lead with a 41-yard touchdown by Frank Gore. Gore's explosive run capped off a 5-play, 75 yard scoring drive that ended with six minutes left in the first quarter.
With 10:25 to go in the second quarter, the Cardinals recaptured a 10-7 lead with a 1-yard Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald touchdown pass. The touchdown was prompted by a 40-yard pass to Steve Breaston. The six play drive covered 58 yards total.
Joe Nedney's 39-yard field goal ended a 9-play, 69-yard scoring drive that tied the game at 10-10 with 1:52 to go in the first half. The drive was highlighted by a 14-yard pass play to Gore, who slipped two defenders to ignite the drive that began at their own 10-yardline. Bryant Johnson accounted for the most explosive play on the drive with a 31-yard reception into Arizona territory.