SAN FRANCISCO -- When the 49ers stopped settling for field-goal attempts Sunday, the NFC West leaders ran away with a 23-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park.The 49ers improved to 9-1, the organization's best start since 1997 with their eighth consecutive victory. The 49ers, who face the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, will have a chance to clinch their first division title since 2002.The 49ers remained one game behind the Green Bay Packers (10-0) in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.The 49ers piled up a lot of yards in the first half but had only three field goals to show for it. The 49ers had 249 yards of total offense, but settled for David Akers field goals of 22, 43 and 29 yards.But the 49ers took all drama out of the game in the third quarter when quarterback Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes. Smith finished the game with .Takeaways galore: The 49ers forced five turnovers in the game, as they continue to excel in the takeawaygiveaway category. Linebacker Patrick Willis had an interception and forced a fumble. Donte Whitner recovered a fumble and had an interception, and Dashon Goldson recorded his third interception of the season. Also, NaVorro Bowman recovered a fumbled punt.FG struggles: Akers entered the game with 23 field goals in 25 attempts, but he missed three attempts in the first half. Two of the kicks were blocked, and Akers was also wide right from 49 yards.Williams emerges: Second-year player Kyle Williams took advantage of his chances on Sunday, as he replaced Ted Ginn as the No. 3 receiver. Williams had five catches for 54 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown catch from Smith. Williams has two touchdown catches on the season, and that leads all 49ers wide receivers.Crabtree's best: Miichael Crabtree had a season-best seven catches for 120 yards, including a 38-yard reception on the firstDavis' milestone: Tight end Vernon Davis caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the 49ers a 23-0 lead. It was Davis' 34th career touchdown to give him the sole lead in franchise history for most touchdowns by a tight end. He had previously been tied with Brent Jones.Gore starts: Running back Frank Gore returned to action after behind held to zero yards and sustaining a right knee injury against the New York Giants. Gore started and carried 24 times for 88 yards before being removed with the 49ers holding a sizable second-half lead.Shortage of fullbacks: Rookie fullback Bruce Miller sustained a concussion in the first half and did not return. So the 49ers used backup tight ends Delanie Walker and Justin Peelle in that role the remainder of the game. Veteran fullback Moran Norris has not suited up since the second week of the season when he sustained a fractured leg. While Norris was out of the lineup, Miller took over and held onto the starting fullback job.Goldson ejected: The game figures to have been costly for Goldson, who was ejected for retaliating in the fourth quarter against Cardinals receiver Early Doucet with a flurry of punches. Goldson is subject to a fine and possible suspension. "We will not make any determinations today on game-related discipline," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.