A win was all that was missing from Colin Kaepernick's redemption game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Kaepernick completed 17-of-30 passes for 210 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in the 23-20 road loss. The quarterback also led the 49ers in rushing with 55 yards on the ground and another score. Kaepernick's Week 10 performance was a vast improvement from his four-interception game last season in Arizona.
"There were positive signs," Kaepernick said after the 49ers dropped to 1-8 on the season. "Our defense played well today. They came out and forced turnovers and gave us a chance to score. I thought we did a good job on offense. We had some opportunities and took advantage of them.
"There's still room for us to grow. There's still room for us to get better. There's still room for us to capitalize the things we saw on the field today."
In the second quarter down 14-0, Kaepernick rolled to his left and found a wide-open Jeremy Kerley in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. San Francisco's second scoring drive of the first half resulted in a 49-yard Phil Dawson field goal. The 49ers went into halftime trailing 20-10.
San Francisco pulled within one score, 20-13, with 3:24 remaining in the game. That's when Gerald Hodges intercepted Carson Palmer to give the 49ers one more chance to tie the game. The pick was Hodges' second of the season and the fourth takeaway for San Francisco's defense in the game.
Kaepernick marched the 49ers down the field and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 20.
"It was a great feeling to be back in the end zone," Kaepernick said. "It was a great play by Gerald to get that pick and give us that opportunity. Offensively, to be able to go down and capitalize on that and tie the game up, that's what we have to be able to do. But we also have to be able to take advantages of the opportunities we have earlier in the game and put more points on the board for our defense."
The opportunities that Kaepernick alluded to were the first three takeaways that the 49ers offense was only able to turn into three points. Eric Reid intercepted Palmer midway through the third quarter, and San Francisco reached Arizona's 28-yard line. Back-to-back holding penalties, however, pushed the 49ers out of field goal range and forced a punt.
San Francisco had nine penalties for 100 yards in the game.
"There are plays like that and drives like that where we have to not shoot ourselves in the foot and be able to put points on the board," Kaepernick said.
The 49ers quarterback will look to build on back-to-back impressive performances in Week 11 when San Francisco hosts Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.