The 49ers squeezed out a win Sunday afternoon against the Cardinals, and guaranteed their first winning season since 2013.
Early in the game, however, it looked more like they would be the first team in NFL history to win its first eight games and then lose its last eight. It was life support time.
I was already composing their obituary six minutes into the second quarter, trailing 16-0 and getting thrashed, when suddenly Richie James took a simple little screen pass and roared 57 yards down to the Arizona eighteen yard line. A few plays later, Jimmy Garoppolo hit Ross Dwelley for a 4 yard TD.
From that point on, the Niners outscored the Cardinals 30-10. Which is more what you’d expect from them. And it would have been more if Garoppolo hadn’t mixed in two red zone interceptions that killed two scoring opportunities and provoked two cardiac arrests.
That’s three straight nail-biters and three straight games that the Niner running attack has been squashed. Opposing teams have evidently decided to force Garoppolo to beat them. He’s two for three and a missed FG from three for three. Sunday, he racked up 424 yards passing.
Deebo Samuel had another big game, catching 8 passes for 134 yards. That’s two straight games he’s been over a hundred yards in receiving. The Niners finally seem to have a bona fide number one WR.
He’s gotten his chance because Kyle Shanahan finally quit force feeding Dante Pettis, trying to get him to live up to his second round draft status. Yesterday, Pettis stood on the sideline the entire game and probably would have been inactive if there was any room on that list. With six injured starters plus third string QB CJ Beathard, there was no room for Pettis. He’ll get one last chance next year in Training Camp, but for now it looks like he’s done for the year.
The next three games are going to be tough. A litmus test on the season. At home against Green Bay, then road games in Baltimore and New Orleans. They probably need to win at least one of these games if anybody is going to take them seriously this year.