We just arrived at the press box at University of Phoenix Stadium for the 49ers Monday Night Football matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. With Seattle losing to Kansas City yesterday, the winner of this game will be just one game back in the division.
Congratulations is also in order for Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr., Roger Craig, Charles Haley and Richard Dent after they were named semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011. In all, 7 of the semifinalists have ties to the 49ers. The candidates will be narrowed down to a list of finalists before the 2011 class is announced on February 5. You can also vote online.
Stay tuned as I’ll post the inactives for both teams as soon as they’re available.
49ers Inactives: QB David Carr (3rd QB), K Joe Nedney, WR Kyle Williams, CB Tramaine Brock, CB Will James, LB Thaddeus Gibson, T Joe Staley, T Alex Boone
Cardinals Inactives: QB John Skelton(3rd QB), DE Calais Campbell, CB Greg Toler, WR Max Komar, S HamzaAbdullah, CB MarshayGreen, LB Reggie Walker, C Ben Claxton.
With Joe Nedney inactive, Shane Andrus will again handle kicking duties and Barry Sims will start at left tackle. The Cards will also be sporting their black uniforms tonight.
I spoke with Ted Robinson earlier for our Week 12 edition of Teddy Football. Click here to listen to the audio. Thanks to all of you who sent in questions!
The 49ers received to start the game. Ginn took a knee for a touchback. Frank Gore got the 49ers off to a fast start with a nice 25-yard run on first down. After a false start by Anthony Davis, the 49ers were faced with a 3rd and 15. Gore got the carry up the middle and was able to get just enough for the first down. On 3rd and 4, Smith tucked the ball and scrambled forward for a gain of 7 and a first down at the 32. On 2nd down, Smith tossed right and Gore was stopped for a loss of one. On 3rd and 11, Westbrook picked up 3 on a carry up the middle. Shane Andrus pushed the 47-yard field goal wide right. The Cardinals will take over at the 37.
Anderson handed the ball to Beanie Wells who had the ball bounce off his chest and it was recovered by Aubrayo Franklin.
The 49ers went with play action on the first play. Vernon Davis drew the attention of the safety and Smith hit Crabtree, who was one-on-one, for a diving 38-yard touchdown.
49ers 7 – Cardinals 0
Andrus’ kickoff was short and fielded by Stephen Spach who returned it to the 32. On 3rd down, Anderson hit Wells who was lined up as a receiver. Wells beat Spikes for a 43-yard gain. On 3rd and 3, Anderson’s pass for Hightower in the flat was low. The Cardinals settled for a Jay Feely field goal.
49ers 7 – Cardinals 3
Ted Ginn gave the 49ers good field position with a 41-yard return up the left sideline. The 49ers started their drive at the 45. After going to the locker room with a hip injury, Gore came back in the game and gained 9 yards on a run up the middle on first down. The 49ers picked up 9 yards on the next first down as Smith hit Morgan on a comeback down the left sideline. Anthony Dixon got the carry on second down and picked up 2 for another first down. Smith bought some time on second down and found Vernon Davis crossing to the right for a gain of 16. 1st and 10 at the 13, Westbrook got the carry and wiggled his way up the middle for 8 yards. Westbrook got the carry up the middle again on 2nd down and got just enough for a first down to give the 49ers first and goal at the 3. Westbrook got the pitch to the left side and dove for the pylon but was marked just short. On 3rd and goal, Anthony Dixon got the carry to the right side and leaped back to the left for a 1-yard touchdown. It was a 10 play, 55 yard drive.
49ers 14 – Cardinals 3
After the return, the Cardinals started the drive at the 30. On first down, Reggie Smith came on the blitz and dropped Hightower for a loss of 3. The first quarter came to a close with San Francisco up 14-3.
Highlight Reel: This is an easy choice. Troy Smith’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree was on the money. Crabtree dove to make a nice catch. As the replay showed, he did a great job of keeping his arm under the ball so it couldn’t be overturned.
Standout Stat: The 49ers had 9 first downs in the first quarter.
Put it in Perspective: The 49ers are moving the ball well, playing solid defense and other the return units have played well. After missing his first couple throws, Troy Smith has settled in. With the injury to Gore, Brian Westbrook looks to get a good amount of playing time. Gore came to play with 52 yards rushing in the first quarter alone so it will be important for Westbrook continue to set the tone on the ground. It should be interesting to watch how this offense operates when playing with the lead.
On 3rd down, Anderson hit Roberts over the middle. Willis made the tackle to stop him just shy of the first down and the Cardinals sent out the punt unit. Ginn returned the kick to the 22.
Westbrook picked up 7 on the carry up the middle on first down. Smith hit Dixon on a screen but the lay lost five yards as Hayes wrapped him up in the backfield. On 3rd and 8, Westbrook got the carry on the draw to gain 4. Andy Lee came on for his first punt of the night. Lee’s punt was a good one and the coverage was equally impressive to wrap up Roberts at the 17.
LaBoy came around the left side and tipped Anderson’s pass on first down. Phillip Adams made a nice play on 3rd down, nearly picking the ball off intended for Breaston. Ginn nearly broke the punt return as he cut it up the middle and was tripped up by the last man back at the AZ 42. It was a 42-yard return.
The 49ers converted on 35 as Smith hit Davis in between the coverage for a first down at the 21. Smith hit Morgan on a quick out to the left side and Morgan dove forward for 6 yards. Westbrook picked up the first down on the next play as he took the sweep to the left side and down to the 8. Westbrook punched it in on the next play on a run up the middle. Great blocks by Vernon Davis and Mike Iupati paved the way for Westbrook.
49ers 21 – Cardinals 3
Stephens-Howling returned the kickoff to the 40. Anderson hit Fitzgerald on an out route for 14 yards and a first down. Wells picked up 8 yards on the next play, but the Cards were flagged for holding on second down. On 3rd and 12, Brown looked like he had a pick, but Breaston ripped the ball from him as they went to the ground. Anderson hit Fitzgerald on a comeback for a gain of 11. Anderson nearly hit Fitzgerald in the end zone on the next play, but Reggie Smith fought him for the ball and Fitz couldn’t hold on to it as he fell to the ground. Two plays later and Jay Feely came on an d connected on a 39-yard field goal.
49ers 21 – Cardinals 6
Ginn had another nice return on the kickoff, but this one was called back for a hold. So instead of having the ball at midfield, the 49ers will start the drive at their own 11 with just over two minutes left in the half. After two runs by Westbrook, the 49ers have a first down at the 23. Smith threw for Crabtree on the next play, but the ball went off his hands and right to Michael Adams. Definitely a ball that Crabtree could have caught.
Shawntae Spencer made a nice play on second down to dive and bat the ball away from Fitz. Anderson escaped a sack on third down and threw the ball away. Ginn let the punt roll into the end zone for a touchback.
The 49ers were content to run out the clock on the first half. Westbrook was able to pick up a first down and the 49ers lead by 15 at the half.
Highlight Reel: It was great to see Brian Westbrook get in the end zone for his first touchdown as a member of the 49ers.
Standout Stat: The 49ers 21 first half points were the most since November 16, 2008.
Put it in Perspective: The 49ers were fortunate that Arizona couldn’t take advantage of the interception late in the half. The 49ers need to be weary not to provide similar opportunities in the second half. It’s still just a two-score lead and the Cardinals will get the ball when play resumes. The 49ers definitely had all the momentum in the first half, but the Cards will most likely come out fired up since it’s a important divisional contest on a national stage.
The Cardinals had a huge kick return to start the half, but it was called back because of a hold. Nate Clements made a nice play on 3rd down, stepping in front of Breaston an nearly picking it off. The punt was downed just inside the 30.
Smith began the 49ers drive, hitting Crabtree on an out route for a 10-yard gain. Norris got the carry on the next play and Haggans was flagged for a personal foul after leading with his helmet. That gave the 49ers a first down at the AZ 45. Smith hit Ginn to the right side on the next play and Ginn picked up just enough for another first down. On 2nd down, Westbrook got the carry and had a nice hole up the middle to pick up 12 and give his team a 1st down at the 19. On 2nd down, Smith was thrown to the ground by Haggans for a loss of 4. On 3rd down, Smith hit Zeigler over the middle down to the 18. Andrus’ field goal was blocked.
On the first play, Willis came in unblocked and brought down Anderson for the sack. It was the first time Willis recorded a sack in three straight games and his 5 sacks this season is a career high. Anderson’s pass on 3rd down was short of the sticks. The punt was downed at the 36. Spillman got a piece of it.
Josh Morgan took the handoff on the reverse and got out to the 49. Troy Smith even threw a block on Branch on the play! Two plays later, Westbrook had a nice hole up the middle and picked up 19. After the play, it’s Westbrook’s 21st game with 100+ yards rushing. Westbrook got great blocks from Norris and Iupati to open the hole. On 3rd and 4, Smith tried to hit Crabtree who looked like he hesitated on the route and the pass sailed long. Third time’s the charm for Shane Andrus who connected on a 38-yard field goal to extend the lead.
49ers 24 – Cardinals 6
The kickoff was short and Spach returned it to the 37. Willis nearly got his sixth sack of the season as he came on the blitz and Anderson barely got the ball away, too low for the intended receiver. On 2nd down, Anderson hit Doucet who found a hole in the zone for a gain of 22. On the next play, Spikes stepped in front of Doucet for the pick and immediately took of down field. Spikes pitched the ball to Clements who took it all the way back inside the 10. The Cardinals were called for unnecessary roughness and that will be tacked on, half the distance to the goal. The Cardinals challenge that Spikes was down by contact and the call was overturned. The foul on the Cardinals is still enforced and the 49ers got the ball at the 50.
On 2nd down, Westbrook found a hole to the left side and picked up 15 after breaking a tackle by Hayes at the line of scrimmage. Westbrook tacked on 7 more on a run up the middle on the next play. On 2nd down, Westbrook picked up just enough to move the chains once again and that brings and end to the third quarter.
Standout Stat: Brian Westbrook now has 20 carries for 131 yards.
Highlight Reel: It didn’t count, but I loved the pick by Spikes and the awareness to pitch it to Clements who nearly took it to the house.
Put it in Perspective: Spikes’ pick was huge as the Cardinals could have gotten back in the game with a score. Is it stands now, the 49ers are threatening with a chance to really pull away. If the 49ers hang on, they’ll be just one game pack in the division.
On 3rd and 10, Smith hit Morgan who found a spot in the zone and picked up 13. On 3rd down, Smith was under pressure and tried to throw it away. It was ruled a backward pass and recovered by the Cardinals. Singletary challenged the ruling n the field. After the review, it was ruled a forward pass and the 49ers keep the ball. So on 4th down, Andrus came on and connected on the 26-yard field goal.
49ers 27 – Cardinals 6
Stephens-Howling returned the kickoff to the 26. On 1st down, Anderson hit Fitz on a quick comeback for 6 yards. On 2nd down, Anderson connected with Stephens-Howling on an out route for 6 more yards. The Cards again gained 6 as Anderson hit Doucet. Anderson hit Doucet again on the next play for a gain of 18. Willis didn’t see it coming or he would have had a pick. The Card continue their march on this drive as Anderson completed it to Breaston for 7 more yards. Anderson then hit Roberts over the middle as he got down to the 14. Anderson’s 3rd down pass went out of the end zone intended for Fitzgerald. On 4th down, Nate Clements made a nice play to dive in front of Doucet and break up a potential touchdown. The 49ers will get the ball after the turnover on downs.
On 3rd down, Dixon picked up 7 to move the chains. Dixon got teh carry once again and bounced around the right side of the line for 9 yards. We’re going to run down to the field now, but stay tuned to Twitter for the final score.
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