Game Rewind: 49ers Drop NFC West Opener to Cardinals

Select images from the 49ers Week 3 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After letting a game slip away early last week in Pittsburgh, the San Francisco 49ers hoped to return to their Week 1 form in their NFC West opener on Sunday.

But for the second straight week, the 49ers fell into an early hole they couldn't dig out of, falling to the rival Arizona Cardinals, 47-7, at University of Phoenix Stadium.

San Francisco (1-2) now trails first-place Arizona (3-0) by two games in the division.

Colin Kaepernick ran for the 49ers only touchdown of the game, but the quarterback threw a career-high four interceptions. Pierre Garçon carried the ball 15 times for 51 yards. As a unit, the San Francisco offense was held to 156 yards while Arizona amassed 446 yards.

Here's what else transpired in the team's Week 1 loss on Sunday.

How It Happened

Sunday's tough outcome began unfolding shortly after the opening kick.

After forcing an Arizona punt near midfield on the game's first possession, San Francisco took its first snaps backed up deep in its own territory.

On 3rd-and-11 from the 12-yard line, heavy pressure from the Cardinals front seven forced an off-balance Colin Kaepernick throw intended for Vernon Davis. Without enough speed on the ball, Justin Bethel jumped the route and ran untouched into the end zone for a 21-yard pick-six.

Lightning then struck twice on the 49ers ensuing possession. On 2nd-and-9 from the San Francisco 31-yard line, Kaepernick tried to hit Anquan Boldin near the right sideline. Tyrann Mathieu, however, read the quarterback's eyes, intercepted the pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to put the Cardinals ahead, 14-0, just six minutes into the first quarter.

While San Francisco was unable to find a rhythm on offense, Arizona continued to build on its lead – this time in more traditional fashion.

On consecutive possessions, the Cardinals mounted 81-yard touchdown drives ending in Chris Johnson runs into the end zone. The first score took 10 plays and close to six minutes and the second spanned nine plays and four minutes. In a matter of a quarter and a half, Arizona jumped out to a 28-0 lead over San Francisco.

Facing a four-touchdown deficit at halftime, Jarryd Hayne gave the 49ers a temporary spark they desperately needed. After the defense forced an Arizona 3-and-out, the Australian import fielded a punt near midfield with plenty of room to room.

Hayne hit his running lane hard and returned the ball 37 yards to the Cardinals 19-yard line to give the offense its best field position of the afternoon.

Three plays later, the 49ers scored their first points on a Kaepernick 12-yard touchdown run off a read-option play. Phil Dawson added the point after to cut the Cardinals lead to 28-7 just before the two-minute warning.

The 49ers looked as if they might swing momentum when Kenneth Acker intercepted Carson Palmer in San Francisco territory, but Kaepernick threw his third interception of the half moments later to turn the ball back over. Arizona then tacked on a field goal to put the halftime score at 31-7.

San Francisco got the ball out of the break looking to close the gap, but on the first play from scrimmage Kaepernick threw his fourth interception, this time under throwing Torrey Smith deep downfield. On the Cardinals next drive, Palmer led Arizona's offense 58 yards in four plays for a touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald finished the drive with a 4-yard scoring catch to put the Cardinals up, 38-7.

Arizona later punctuated its win with a safety and a Fitzgerald 8-yard touchdown catch.

Key Stats

-- Entering Sunday's contest, Kaepernick had not thrown an interception in his previous 142 pass attempts. 

-- Kaepernick's rushing touchdown was his first since scoring from 90 yards out in Week 16 of last year versus the San Diego Chargers.

-- The Cardinals scored 24 points off turnovers on Sunday. They also added a safety, bringing down Carlos Hyde in the end zone midway through the third quarter.

--  The 49ers have allowed 40 points in back-to-back games for first time since 2006.

-- Arik Armstead, San Francisco's first-round pick in 2015, recorded his first career sack late in the third quarter. The pass-rusher sped around his blocker and brought down Palmer, marking the first time this season the Cardinals have allowed a sack. Armstead later added a forced fumble of Palmer.

-- NaVorro Bowman led the team with nine tackles.

Injury Report

Vernon Davis left the game in the second half with a knee injury. The team announced his return as questionable.

The tight end did not go to the locker room to receiver treatment. Davis did not record a catch in the game.

Up Next

The 49ers return home to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Levi's® Stadium. The Packers play at home on Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, so they will be traveling to the West Coast on short rest. San Francisco won its home opener in Week 1, defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 20-3. The 49ers have defeated the Packers four consecutive times, including twice in the postseason.

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