Every Monday throughout the season, 49ers.com will ask a different player to break down Sunday's game in this Team Issued column. This week, we asked cornerback Walt Harris to review Monday night's game from his perspective. **
When Allen Rossum returned the opening kick 104 yards for a touchdown, I think that was obviously a big play for us. Rossum picked up a couple of nice blocks from Kentwan Balmer and Michael Robinson and it was a big play, because right off the bat it got our whole team fired up. It basically set the tone for the whole game and let everyone know that we were ready to play.
From where I was on the sideline, all I could see was that Rossum never slowed down from the time he caught the ball until he scored the touchdown. And because he didn't have to slow down, it meant that guys were able to pick up their blocks, which made a huge hole for Rossum to get through and make it to the end zone.
From the defense's perspective, it was nice to go out on the field with a 7-0 lead. Anytime you have an exciting type of play to start a game, it's definitely motivation for the team as a whole. It inspired us to go out there and play good football for the rest of the game.
Offensively, I think we started the game nicely. Shaun Hill was able to throw two touchdown passes in the first half, one to Josh Morgan and the other to Vernon Davis. Both were nice throws and even better catches. I think what helped our offense the most was that our guys were out there making plays.
On Vernon's touchdown, it was an awesome effort on his part to go up and get the ball before Adrian Wilson turned his head around. I thought that play got everyone excited, because it put us up 21-13 with less than 30 seconds left in the first half. Plays like that showed, how we were ready to play and that the focus was there on our part. That's really what the game is all about, making plays. And I felt like we did a good job of that in the first half.
Another play that was an example of that was when Shaun Hill scrambled for extra yards to pick up a first down, even when Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby knocked his helmet off. You could tell that Shaun was playing motivated football just like the rest of us out there. We were all very inspired by Coach Singletary and had the right mentality coming into the game.
On the other side of the ball, our defense did a much better job of getting stops on third down than we did in our first meeting with Arizona. I think we played pretty well on first and second down and that helped put the Cardinals in longer situations on third downs. Also, Coach Manusky was making great calls and guys were able to make plays on those third downs and disrupt Arizona's momentum.
Another thing I think we did well was stop their running game and running back Tim Hightower, who had 22 yards on 13 carries. I think that all started with the play from our defensive line up front. We really didn't have too big of a concern coming into the game, because we knew our guys up front would fly around to the ball and make it hard for Hightower to get to the second level.
For me personally, I matched up one-on-one against Anquan Boldin, and I have a ton of respect for him, especially because of how he came back after the injury he suffered to his face. He's a great player, and it's always a challenge to go against a guy like that.
Late in the game the fumbled snap exchange on offense, our defense was able to hold the Cardinals to a field goal, despite Arizona having a first and ten on our 10-yard line. That field goal kept our lead at 24-23 and it was a big stop for us. Anytime the offense has a high percentage scoring situation in the red zone, it's important to hold them to three points. I think we were able to do that, because like I said earlier, we were playing inspired football.
Unfortunately, on the second short field we did give up the touchdown that allowed Arizona to take the lead.
Although we didn't come up with the win, there are a lot of things to look forward to on the positive side. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win, but I think the game says a lot about where we are and where we're going.
The Arizona game was definitely mentally draining for us, but we have to rebound and come out next week against St. Louis and try to make up for it. They are in the same predicament as we are in and have the same record of 2-7. They're definitely in need of a win, just like we are, so it should be a good football game. We just have to come back ready to work and get the sour taste from this game out of our mouths. We need to take the positives and build off them.