Cards get win over biggest rival


Cards get win over biggest rival

The Arizona Cardinals remain on the periphery of the NFC playoff race with their 21-19 victory over the NFC West champion 49ers on Sunday.At 6-7, the Cardinals have now won five of their past six games, and they snapped a five-game losing streak to the 49ers -- the team they consider their biggest rival. The Cardinals also avenged a 23-7 loss to the 49ers three weeks ago.
Here is some of the reaction from the winning locker room:"They are so good with their front seven that we came in with the idea of spreading it out a little bit. I would have preferred to do better in the run game. But we made some big plays, some stretch-the-field plays that we thought we could attack them with."
--Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt"I didn't think it was a catch. That's why I threw the challenge flag . . . other than I suspected that they may try to run a fake field goal."

--Whisenhunt, laughing, on the challenge of a Kyle Williams reception that negated a 49ers fake field goal that would've resulted in a first down and possibly a touchdown"What I'm more interested in is beating a team that is 10-2 and has won their division. Say what you want to, that's a good football team. For us to beat them means we have made progress as a team. There's a rivalry with the 49ers because they have good players and they play a physical game. It's nice to get it from that perspective because our guys really wanted it."
--Whisenhunt on ending the five-game skid to the 49ers"It was an exciting day all-around for this ballclub. The last couple weeks have been great to be able to talk about the wins. Our defense played lights out again. To be able to hold a good football team in the San Francisco 49ers like they (the defense) did, it was impressive. We gave them some bad luck by turning the ball over three times. That's something you definitely cannot do against a good ballclub like them."
--Receiver Larry Fitgerald"I feel like every game is our Super Bowl. Every game is a playoff game for us and that's how we look at it. I don't know what the 49ers were thinking this week. That's still a great team. I wish them well in the playoffs. Right now, we're finding our identity and playing well."
--Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett"I think we just continue to stay within our scheme and believe in everything that the coaches tell us. We know we have been putting in the work continuously. It was too bad the way the game turned out in San Francisco but we knew what type of team we had. If we continue to play hards and for four quarters like we did (Sunday), it shows the type of team we have."
--Receiver Early Doucet"It is huge. They are our biggest rivals in my opinion. What makes it even sweeter is that they are the division champs. Our mindset is that we are going to go out and show that we can beat the division champs, try to make a run at this and hopefully get to the playoffs."
--Defensive end Calais Campbell"It's a big one. First of all, it's a division game and we just wanted to come out here and win the game. We are just trying to keep it going. We are going to let the chips fall where they may. . . I don't know if you could call it a rivalry if they kept beating us. We came out and took care of business."
--Receiver Andre Roberts"Coach Horton's defense (defensive coordinator Ray Horton) is really starting to come together for a lot of us. We are really starting to understand it and you can see it on the field. We gave up a few big plays, and you never want to do that. Now, the next step is trying to get some turnovers. I dropped an interception and we could have made a lot of big plays."
--Linebacker Sam Acho"Who knew? When we were 1-6, especially after winning the first game, we were thinking we were a good football team. We just had to find ourselves at some pint in the season. Going 1-6, we never kept our heads down. We stayed up. To win five out of six games, it has been amazing."
--Linebacker Darryl Washington"Hats off to the coaches for just staying the course. With the lockout and not being at minicamp and all the other stuff, we basically had to use Flagstaff (training camp), the preseason and even the season when it counted to try to get acclimated with the defense and where everybody fit in. I would say the last month-and-a-half or so, everything has come together."
--Linebacker Clark Haggans

Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?


Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?

After five consecutive close losses and some reason for optimism, it all came crashing down for the 49ers on Sunday.

Rookie Trent Taylor fumbled a punt just one minute into the game. Ninety seconds later, the Dallas Cowboys scored.

And it was over.

The Cowboys steamrolled the 49ers, 40-10, providing a slap across the face to anyone who believed this rebuild of the franchise was trending consistently upward without any complications.

The team appeared to be moving along harmoniously. But on Sunday, there was an incident in which Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon and Ray-Ray Armstrong were seen jawing at each other. Things got heated. The optics in a home blowout loss were not good.

There are plenty of questions, and here are some of the questions from The Day After that were submitted on our Facebook page:

What is the philosophy? Are we trying to win or develop players? Cause it seems you can't do both? (Frank Vega)
The 49ers are definitely trying to develop players. They are also trying to evaluate players. They are looking to the future, and they are not deploying a win-at-all-cost approach this season. They do not want to win an extra game or two this season at the expense of possibly making the team worse for the future.

That is why the 49ers, almost invariably, went with younger players at any position in which there was competition . . . Eli Harold over Ahmad Brooks; Trent Taylor over Jeremy Kerley; Raheem Mostert over Tim Hightower; etc.

It’s why the 49ers made the decision two weeks ago to part ways with NaVorro Bowman, who had expressed dissatisfaction over his reduced role. Bowman was still the 49ers’ best linebacker at the time. But he would not have been on the team next year, so the decision was made to release Bowman now and go with the other less-accomplished players. (The Raiders, by the way, say 'Thank you.')

Rookie C.J. Beathard is now the starting quarterback. Cole Hikutini has moved into the No. 2 role at tight end behind fellow rookie George Kittle. Ahkello Witherspoon is being weaved into the action at cornerback, splitting time with Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson.

The 49ers did not want to create a mirage. They did not want to win any games this season that would be the result of a veteran rent-a-player approach. In that respect, the 49ers have succeeded. The 49ers will be picking near the top of every round in the 2018 draft.

The risk, of course, is that the young players get beaten down so badly that they lose their confidence and their edge.

What do you make of Eric Reid’s move to LB? Is his time with Niners nearing the end? (Peter Chan)
The 49ers no longer use a “nickel” defense. They go straight from their base defense to six defensive backs whenever the opposition puts more than two wide receivers on the field. It’s not a true linebacker position Reid is playing. It’s considered more of a “big nickel," designed to give the 49ers more speed on third downs to cover and run to the ball.

Reid is no longer a starter. What it shows is that the 49ers are sold on Jaquiski Tartt being a long-term answer for the 49ers secondary. The 49ers view Tartt and Jimmie Ward as the starters for 2018. All things being equal, Reid will have a chance to go somewhere else next season and be a starter.

The 49ers are not committed to re-signing him on a deal that extends beyond this season.

Is it a coincidence that the two worst teams in the NFL have the most cap space? (Gary Staebler)
That is no coincidence at all. It is the very reason the Cleveland Browns and 49ers are the only two winless teams in the NFL.

The Browns have $61.6 million in cap space. The 49ers are currently $61 million under the cap. Next year, with carryovers of unused space, the 49ers and Browns are projected to both have more than $117 million in cap room, according to Overthecap.com.

Bad teams do not draft well.

Teams that do not draft well, do not sign their draft picks to lucrative second contracts.

Therefore, teams that do not draft well cannot spend a large portion of their cap space to retain their own players because they have no good players worth retaining.

49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense


49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense

Veteran safety Eric Reid returned from a knee injury that kept him out three games to discover he lost his starting job.

Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt has continued to serve as an every-down player for the 49ers’ defense. On Sunday, Reid played 48 snaps (64 percent) as the 49ers employed six defensive backs against the Dallas Cowboys three-receiver sets.

The 49ers had to adjust their sub package after nickel back K’Waun Williams sustained a hip injury. Rookie Adrian Colbert entered the game at safety with Jimmie Ward taking over Williams’ role. Colbert played 29 snaps.

Newly signed defensive linemen Leger Douzable and Tony McDaniel saw a lot of action in their 49ers debuts. Douzable played the third-most of any defensive lineman (behind Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner), seeing action on 47 of the team’s 75 snaps. McDaniel played 25 snaps.

On offense, the 49ers appear to be making a point to go with younger players. Rookie Cole Hikutini played 21 snaps, taking over as the No. 2 tight end over Garrett Celek and Logan Paulsen.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, another undrafted rookie, played a season-high 23 snaps. On fourth-and-4 from the Dallas 28 early in the third quarter, coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. Bourne was the intended target. But he stumbled after a spin move from the slot, and C.J. Beathard’s pass was incomplete.

“As I was throwing the ball he tripped,” Beathard said. “If he hadn’t tripped on a DB’s feet or whatever happened there, it would’ve been a big play.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

(66 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 66
Running back – Carlos Hyde 51, Matt Breida 15
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 46, Trent Taylor 46, Marquise Goodwin 39, Aldrick Robinson 30, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 31, Cole Hikutini 21, Garrett Celek 18, Logan Paulsen 11
Offensive line – Joe Staley 66, Daniel Kilgore 66, Laken Tomlinson 66, Brandon Fusco 52, Trent Brown 45, Garry Gilliam 20, Zane Beadles 14

(75 plays)
Defensive line – Solomon Thomas 61, DeForest Buckner 50, Leger Douzable 47, Earl Mitchell 38, Xavier Cooper 26, D.J. Jones 25, Tony McDaniel 25, Elvis Dumervil 15
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 53, Eli Harold 31, Ray-Ray Armstrong 27, Brock Coyle 22, Dekoda Watson 9
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 63, Rashard Robinson 51, Ahkello Witherspoon 35, K’Waun Williams 20
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 75, Jimmie Ward 75, Eric Reid 48, Adrian Colbert 29

(24 plays)
Elijah Lee 21, Coyle 21, Raheem Mostert 16, Celek 15, Colbert 16, Witherspoon 15, Breida 14, Harold 12, Hikutini 12, Armstrong 10, Tartt 10, Bradley Pinion 9, Jones 8, R.Robinson 8, Ward 8, Johnson 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Buckner 6, Thomas 6, Paulsen 6, Reid 5, Mitchell 5, Douzable 4, A.Robinson 3, Taylor 3, Robbie Gould 2, Foster 2, Staley 2, Kilgore 2, Gilliam 2, Beadles 2, Tomlinson 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1, Dumervil 1, Watson 1, Williams 1

QB Brian Hoyer

WR Victor Bolden
DB Dexter McCoil
FB Kyle Juszczyk (back)
LB Mark Nzeocha
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OL Erik Magnuson