GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 49ers went with a different formula for success on Thursday night in their 28-25 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers’ defense had an alarming number of breakdowns, and the team’s running backs had a difficult time getting going. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo put the team on his back to lead the way to the victory.
The 49ers won for the eighth consecutive time to open the season, and have 10 days to get ready for their next game. The 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, Nov. 11, at Levi’s Stadium.
“I’m glad we were able to pull that off, so we could enjoy our few days off,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Seven-and-one would not have felt nearly as good. You only feel as good as your last game. We’re really excited about being 8-0, but it doesn’t mean anything. It just means we can enjoy our couple days off even more.”
The 49ers’ fifth consecutive road win was the most for the franchise in a single season since 1994.
Here are the 49ers’ grades from their victory, which breaks an eight-game losing streak to the Cardinals:
Matt Breida, who was nursing an ankle injury, showed no signs of the injury as he gained a team-high 78 yards rushing on 15 attempts. Tevin Coleman, coming off his best game of the season, had difficulty finding any room to run. Coleman gained just 23 yards on 12 rushing attempts.
But Coleman had one of the biggest plays of the game when he managed to stay inbounds and pick up 3 yards on a crucial third-and-3 running play late in the game. The 49ers ended up getting another first down to run out the clock.
The Cardinals stacked the box in an attempt to take away the 49ers’ run game. But in putting so much emphasis on the run, it opened the door for the passing game.
Garoppolo had the best game of his 18-start NFL career, as he completed 28 of 37 pass attempts for 317 yards with a career-best four touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 136.9.
Garoppolo and the passing game was particularly effective on third downs. Garoppolo completed 12 of 14 pass attempts on third downs for 159 yards. Nine of those completions were good for first downs, including his game-clinching 11-yarder to Ross Dwelley on a third-and-9 situation. Garoppolo also threw a 1-yard touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders on fourth down.
Sanders caught seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, and tight end George Kittle had six receptions for 79 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown. Kendrick Bourne and Dante Pettis added touchdowns on their only receptions of the night, covering 7 and 21 yards, respectively.
Garoppolo was well-protected for most of the night. He was sacked just once for 7 yards.
Things got off to a rough start for the 49ers’ run defense, as Cardinals newly acquired running back Kenyan Drake ripped off a 36-yard run on the first play of the game.
The Cardinals gained 153 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Drake rushed for 110 yards on 15 carries, and quarterback Kyler Murray added 34 yards rushing on five attempts.
The first half was what everyone has come to expect from the 49ers’ defense, as the Cardinals managed just 15 yards of net passing through 30 minutes.
But the 49ers let Arizona back in the game with some breakdowns in the defensive backfield, including allowing Andy Isabella to break free for an 88-yard touchdown pass from Murray. Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley took a chance, going for the interception, and he got burnt.
Dee Ford had what looked like a big play early with a sack on third down, but he was called for a horse-collar tackle. The Cardinals ended up scoring a TD on their game-opening drive.
Ford, DeForest Buckner and Dre Greenlaw registered sacks in the game, but Murray completed 17 of 24 passes for 241 yards with two touchdowns. Fred Warner dropped what would have been an easy pick-six.
Punter Mitch Wishnowsky and punt returner Richie James had their usual solid games. Wishnowsky had a net 42.8-yard average on five punts. James averaged 8.3 yards on three returns.
The 49ers gave up a long punt return, but it was nullified due to a holding penalty. The Cardinals’ average starting point after four kickoffs was the 22-yard line. Robbie Gould did not have any field-goal attempts, but he made all four of his extra points.
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The 49ers did not generate any takeaways, nor did they surrender any giveaways. This was a game the 49ers had in control after taking a 21-7 lead in the second quarter. But they did not close the door.
There is plenty for the 49ers to clean up after this victory.
“We need to be humble,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said. “That was a humbling game. We need to be humble on all levels, and I think there’s accountability on all levels. . . . That was not championship football.”