Here’s our report card from the 49ers’ 28-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium.
Passing offense: D
After completing all five of his throws for 59 yards on the opening touchdown drive, C.J. Beathard completed 29 of 49 (59 percent) for 290 yards the rest of the game. The outcome was ultimately decided late in the fourth quarter, when Beathard had the ball knocked out of his hands by linebacker Haason Reddick, allowing fellow linebacker Josh Bynes to return it 23 yards for the decisive touchdown to make it 21-12. It was Beathard’s third turnover of the game and second fumble. He later added a late interception to Bene Benwikere, leading to Arizona’s final touchdown. Beathard opened the game with a left-handed shovel pass to Matt Breida and found Trent Taylor for a touchdown to make it a two-point game in the fourth quarter.
Rushing offense: C
San Francisco’s running game got off to a fast start thanks to Breida’s 56 yards on his first eight carries. But he left the game on the last play of the first quarter with a left ankle injury and the running game wasn’t the same. The 49ers finished with 134 yards on the ground, with Alfred Morris and Raheem Mostert averaging 3.1 yards on their 23 carries.
Passing defense: B-
It appeared free safety Adrian Colbert made a mistake on the first play of scrimmage, allowing rookie wideout Christian Kirk to streak up the middle of the field while Ahkello Witherspoon was playing to his help on the inside. Kirk beat the secondary for a 75-yard touchdown, which accounted for nearly half the team’s total output through the air on the afternoon. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen finished with just 170 yards while completing only 10 of 25 passes.
Rushing defense: B
David Johnson had just 55 yards on 18 carries (3.1 average), but scored two touchdowns, including one when the game was decided. Johnson, for the most part, was held in check. His longest rush went for just 10 yards. The Cardinals averaged just 4.8 yards per play, which would be good enough to win, but the 49ers’ 5-0 loss in the turnover battle was too much to overcome.
Special teams: D
The 49ers had a gaffe on their first extra-point try when holder Bradley Pinion couldn’t handle the snap preventing from Robbie Gould from getting off an attempt. Then Gould missed a 45-yard attempt early in the fourth quarter, snapping his franchise-best streak of 33 consecutive makes. That took four points off the board, preventing the 49ers from taking a lead in the fourth quarter with Taylor’s fourth-down touchdown.
The 49ers wound up behind the eight ball with Breida sidelined, who was clearly an integral part of the game plan coming in. It didn’t help that his replacement, Mostert, had a game-changing fumble on his first carry of the game. The offense was sloppy with penalties and couldn’t get in rhythm, scoring a season-low 12 points, the fewest since last losing the Cardinals in November 2017.