After opening up the game 10-0, following a 76 yard Raheem Mostert touchdown, the 49ers could not get out of their own way; leading to a 24-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
The box score was kind to 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The former Patriot threw for 249 yards with a 2:0 TD: INT ratio. However, this strange, surreal outing proved to be a microcosm of all Garoppolo’s problems.
Whenever Garoppolo was forced off his first read, which was often this game due to interior pressure from the Cardinals defensive line, the play was over. You could chalk it up to a Super Bowl hangover, rust or lacklustre communication with the centre and right-guard. Nevertheless, these problems, hesitancy in the pocket, lack of improvisation and poor accuracy, have plagued Garoppolo for a while now.
Garoppolo told reporters after the game, ‘Not the way we wanted to start the season … every little detail on every single play … consistency for our offense needs to improve.’
With Garoppolo’s struggles in mind, the blame should not solely be put on his shoulders. The 49ers receivers, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne combined for a pathetic 41 yards. George Kittle was nonexistent in the second half after sustaining a blow to the knee and, as mentioned before, the interior of the offensive line was nothing short of a disaster.
Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert were the lone bright sparks on offence. Mostert finished the game with 151 yards of total offence and one touchdown reception for 76 yards. Moreover, McKinnon marked his long-awaited 49ers debut with a touchdown – a great sight to see for NFL fans everywhere.
On the defensive side of the ball, 49ers defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, did not have any answers on how to contain Cardinals quarterback, Kyler Murray. Murray carried the ball 13 times for 91 yards, as well as throwing for 230 yards and one touchdown.
It is important to note that there was more than one ‘questionable’ late hit call against the Niners defence whenever Murray would slide. Costly penalties that, no doubt, had an impact on the outcome of this game.
The Niners D did force an interception from Murray and Nick Bosa was constantly pressuring the shifty field general. But it proved to be too little as Cardinals new signing Deandre Hopkins constantly roamed free in the 49ers secondary – 141 yards on 14 receptions. It seems possible that the number one passing defence from 2019 is missing defensive backs coach Joe Woods, who is currently heading the Browns defence in Cleveland.
Although it is best to start on a positive note, there are still fifteen weeks left to correct this loss for the Niners. However, if the Niners are to move on – it is of vital importance that they iron out the kinks that can make or break a season in the National Football League.
A trip to the East Coast comes next for Shanahan and co. – the perfect opportunity to correct this dastardly performance against two shoddy New York teams.
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