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Week 11 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 26, San Francisco 49ers 36

What you need to know

Arizona Cardinals

For the second time in three weeks the Cardinals were competitive until the final minutes with one of the best teams, by record, in the NFL. Arizona had a fourth quarter lead until the 49ers raced back for the high-scoring win. For the Cardinals, Kenyan Drake was the clear starting running back as David Johnson sparsely played, posting 80 yards and largely being held in check. Christian Kirk paced the passing game with nine targets, but his tepid stat line was shaded by three defensive pass interference penalties beyond the box score and a dropped pass. While not resulting in a win, Kyler Murray and the offense continue to show promise as they fade from 2019 playoff probabilities.

San Francisco 49ers

Emmanuel Sanders tried to play through his rib injury, but had to tap out midway through the third quarter. However, Deebo Samuel came up big in his stead, including making one of the greatest catches of the season. Matt Breida remains sorely missed in the backfield. Jimmy Garoppolo nearly cost San Francisco the game ... twice, but then threw a fourth quarter game-winning touchdown... twice.

Arizona Cardinals

QB Kyler Murray, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 33 - 150 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 8 - 67 - 1
Murray showed well against division rival San Francisco for the second time in three weeks, logging zero turnovers and being an x-factor as a runner. Murray showed speed to the edge on his highlight run of the game to take a fourth quarter lead from distance. Murray also had a touchdown to Charles Clay called back by penalty and several defensive pass interference penalties siphoned from his tepid-looking box score tally. Murray, however, avoided mistakes, his calling card thus far through 10 games with just five interceptions and no fumbles lost on the season and no turnovers against the 49ers in two contests. Murray was stuffed on a goal line keeper as another opportunity to find the end zone.

RB Kenyan Drake, 61 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 67 - 0, Rec: 6 - 13 - 0 (7 targets)
Drake was a workhorse in his role against the 49ers, seeing 22 touches and David Johnson barely playing and not seeing an offensive touch. Divergent from their matchup two weeks ago, Drake had tough sledding throughout the game with every rushing yard being challenged by the 49ers defense especially between the tackles with few clear opportunities to the second level by the offensive line. Drake did log multiple third-down conversion in shorter yardage situations as his most positive contributions on the ground. As a receiver, most of Drake’s yardage came on a split-out screen with after-the-catch yardage.

RB David Johnson, 9 offensive snaps
Johnson sparsely played against the 49ers as Kenyan Drake has emerged as the clear starter since his arrival from Miami. Johnson, working through his own injuries, is a shaky bet to see significant work until further notice, seeing only nine snaps and no touches against the 49ers.

WR Christian Kirk, 68 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 6 - 41 - 0 (9 targets)
Kirk’s impact against the 49ers went beyond the box score as the second-year receiver drew three defensive pass interference penalty, two down the field and another on third down. Kirk added a third-down drop to his performance, making for a tepid stat line despite a hearty nine targets and coming off a three-touchdown effort against the Buccaneers last week. The 49ers held Kirk in check in their previous meeting as well with Kirk totaling 6-49-0 on 14 targets against their divisional foe this season.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 37 - 1 (5 targets)
Fitzgerald converted all five of his targets against the 49ers, including his first touchdown since Week 3. Fitzgerald got loose at the goal line with a missed assignment by the defense, standing alone for the straight-forward score. Fitzgerald added a chunk of yards-after-the-catch on his other notable reception but was largely held in check by the San Francisco defense, who limited Fitzgerald to less than 40 yards in their matchup two weeks ago.

WR Andy Isabella, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (4 targets)
After two quality contributions Isabella crashed back to earth in impact against the 49ers. Isabella saw a career-high four targets but only one downfield opportunity of note. Isabella and Kyler Murray were not on the same page with a deep back-shoulder target. Isabella added a short screen gain as his lone reception.

San Francisco 49ers

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 77 offensive snaps, Pass: 34 - 45 - 424 - 4 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0
Garoppolo threw two absolutely awful interceptions, both on 3rd down, and both inside Arizona's 25-yard line. On the first, he threw to a bracketed Emmanuel Sanders at the goal line, but it was actually a third defender, an underneath linebacker that he didn't see, who made the interception. On the second, Garoppolo high and behind Ross Dwelley, who helpfully tipped the ball into the waiting arms of safety Jalen Thompson. Despite how awful these were, they actually shed light on why he's still plenty good enough to have produced a 400-yard, 4-touchdown, game-winning performance. Namely, Garoppolo a) makes reads and gets the ball out as fast as anyone in the league, b) he's willing to throw as he's about to get hit, and c) he defaults towards pushing the ball downfield rather than checking down. These are good traits for an NFL quarterback, but they sometimes manifest themselves in hero throws that shouldn't be made; say, on 3rd-down in the red zone when you're about to gain or extend a second-half lead.

RB Tevin Coleman, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 14 - 0, Rec: 3 - 48 - 0 (4 targets)
Vintage Coleman, this was. Except for one carry, he only gained what was blocked for him. Becase Arizona frequently employed eight-man boxes on running downs, that meant not a lot. In the passing game, he could have had a walk-in touchdown on a swing pass at the goal line, but Jimmy Garoppolo led him toward the goal line, whereas Coleman kept his route flat. He did have a 37-yard catch to start the second half, however. On that play, Coleman actually lined up in the slot and ran a shallow cross uncovered through Arizona's short zone. After the catch, he used his speed to run untouched down the sideline until being touched by Budda Baker. Then he went down.

RB Raheem Mostert, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (3 targets)
Unfortunately, Mostert's passing-down role in place of Matt Breida, although placing him on the field more because of the 49ers being down most of the game, didn't result in touching the ball more because Jimmy Garoppolo was throwing downfield with reckless abandon.

WR Deebo Samuel, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 134 - 0 (10 targets)
Samuel's first six targets came either on third down or in the red zone. The sixth of these produced both the highlight reel catch of the day and a first down the 49ers desperately needed while down three in the fourth quarter. On 3rd-and-9 at the 49ers' 26-yard line, Samuel ran a deep out route to the left sideline against slot cornerback Kevin Peterson. Jimmy Garoppolo was hit as he threw, so the pass was underthrown, which actually caused a faceguarding Peterson to badly interfere with Samuel. No big deal, as he leapt, popped the ball up to himself behind Peterson's back, followed it in the air as it bounced off Peterson's helmet, then caught it while diving to the sideline and being tackled by both Peterson and safety Jalen Thompson.

WR Kendrick Bourne, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 31 - 1 (6 targets)
Bourne's second target nearly produced a carbon copy of the "while wide open, drop a slightly high throw and tip it to the defender for an interception" play that he pulled off against Seattle last week. He redeemed himself two targets later by badly beating cornerback Byron Murphy, Jr., on a quick slant at the goal line for a touchdown that gave the 49ers a fourth quarter lead.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (5 targets)
Sanders couldn't make it through three quarters in his attempt to play through the rib injury he suffered last week. He was visibly affected by it while on the field, as several of his receptions were followed by Sanders wincing as he slowly got to his feet. Sanders' final play involved being the target of Jimmy Garoppolo's first red zone interception, and that route involved a quick twist back to the inside, which he did not execute quickly at all.

TE Ross Dwelley, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 14 - 2 (5 targets)
Both of Dwelley's touchdowns came on blown coverages near the goal line. On the first, safety Budda Baker never picked Dwelley up when he cut towards the corner of the end zone. On the second, linebacker Hasson Reddick didn't pick Dwelley up when he came off the line after feigning a run block. Heck, even a third touchdown that was nullified by penalty resulted from a blown coverage.