Santa Clara -Jimmy Garoppolo on the sidelines didn’t change the 49ers’ fortunes. Garoppolo couldn’t stop the 49ers’ three step – one step forward, two steps back and repeat.
The season-long tango from hell continued to the 49ers as they lost to the reeling Cardinals 20-14 at Levi’s while new acquisition Garoppolo beheld the spectacle from the sidelines. The 49ers dropped to no wins, nine losses on the season.
At least the 49ers are back to losing close games, after two straight one-sided affairs, the 49ers dueled the Cardinals down to the final quarter.
The 49ers also got another gritty performance from their rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard. Despite being sacked four times and getting pummeled throughout the afternoon, Beathard rose from the deck to complete passes and run for yardage.
Beathard finished the day 24 of 51 for 287 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. It has to make the 49ers wonder what Beathard could do with a healthy offensive line and a full complement of receivers.
When given time, Beathard had some hot streaks. In the second quarter, he started dealing throwing six straight accurate passes. Nevertheless the drive failed to be fruitful after he under threw a covered Aldrick Robinson and then was pressured into an incompletion on third down.
Beathard stayed hot in the third quarter, leading a touchdown drive with more accuracy and a run of his own for 4 yards that got the 49ers down to the Cardinals’ 2. From there, Beathard faked a handoff to running back Carlos Hyde and spilled over the goal line himself. He endured a hard hit in the process.
Beathard’s touchdown brought the team back from a two-touchdown deficit to a 14-10 score. Beathard was also bedeviled by some dropped passes. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin dropped a 25 yarder in the beginning of the fourth quarter on a low throw. One play later rookie tight end George Kittle couldn’t hold a 4-yard throw.
Injuries were again a huge sidebar for this game. Safety Jaquiski Tarrt (wrist), wide receiver Trent Taylor (ribs), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (neck), linebacker Elijah Lee (knee) and tight end Cole Hikutini (knee) all exited. It follows last week’s game, when the 49ers lost five starters in the loss in Philly.
The team also failed to overcome some early mistakes. In the first quarter, after Beathard completed a 14-yard pass over the middle to college roommate George Kittle, he fired another pass to Juszczyk who broke a tackle and then promptly fumbled. Patrick Peterson plucked the loose ball like a major league short stop and would have scored if not for the fastest man in the NFL. Goodwin, an Olympic long jumper, chased him down at the 49ers’ 6. Arizona scored the first points of the game two plays later.
On defense, the 49ers couldn’t hold the Cardinals from scoring. Arizona when on killing seven-minute drive in the fourth quarter that only covered 39 yards. However the resulting Phil Dawson field goal upped the score to 20-10 with 5:33 left.
With a rookie quarterback and a battered offensive line (rookie free agent Eric Magnesum from Michigan started at right tackle) the 49ers lacked the firepower for a two score comeback.
Fittingly, the game ended when a Beathard pass intended for Goodwin bounced off of tackle Trent Brown’s helmet and was intercepted by Karl Dansby.