SANTA CLARA – The 49ers were in danger of tumbling out of first place in the NFC West on Sunday.
The pesky Arizona Cardinals got off to a roaring start and controlled the 49ers for much of the first half. But the 49ers rallied from a 16-point deficit for a 36-26 victory at Levi’s Stadium.
The comeback was the 49ers’ largest in the regular season since coming back from 20 down to beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 2, 2011. In the NFC Championship in January 2013, the 49ers came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.
The 49ers (9-1) extended their lead in the NFC West to a full game over the idle Seattle Seahawks (8-2).
Here are the 49ers’ grades from the Week 11 victory:
The 49ers were having such little success that coach Kyle Shanahan scrapped the running game altogether in the second half.
“I think that was the first time I consciously got away from it in the second half, just because it didn’t look like it was going well,” Shanahan said. “I think they were playing really well upfront. We weren’t creating a ton of lanes.”
Matt Breida was sidelined with an ankle injury. Tevin Coleman had just 14 yards rushing on 12 attempts, while Raheem Mostert added 13 yards on six carries. The only good thing that can be said about the 49ers’ running game is they did not fumble.
It was not without some drama, but ultimately quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo got the job done with a career-high 424 passing yards, including the game-winning 25-yarder to third-string running back Jeff Wilson in the closing minute.
Garoppolo completed 34 of 45 passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was 115.4.
Both of his interceptions came deep in Arizona territory in the second half and looked to be costly. Then, he drove the 49ers 65 yards on eight plays for the go-ahead touchdown.
Deebo Samuel had eight catches for 134 yards, and tight end Ross Dwelley had four receptions for 14 yards and two touchdowns.
The 49ers had a difficult time bottling up the quarterback-driven run game of Kyler Murray, as he gained 67 yards on just eight attempts. And when he was not keeping the ball to himself, he was giving it to Kenyan Drake, who also had 67 yards on 16 carries.
Linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw led the way for the 49ers’ defense with 12 and 10 tackles.
Murray had a solid day, completing 24 of 33 passes for 150 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. But the 49ers also forced two fumbles in the passing game.
Newly signed defensive end Damontre Moore had a big forced fumble in the closing minute and Jaquiski Tartt recovered. Then, in a desperation situation, D.J. Reed scooped up a fumble and returned it 4 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game.
Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner and Jimmie Ward were credited with sacks.
Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman had a difficult day in coverage against Arizona wide receiver Christian Kirk. Sherman was called three pass interference penalties totaling 72 yards.
The 49ers held their own on special teams.
Kicker Chase McLaughlin, filling in for injured Robbie Gould, made three extra points and a 43-yard field goal attempt. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 50.5 yards net on his two punts.
Richie James averaged 4.0 yards on two punt returns and 23.3 yards on three kickoffs.
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Considering how this game started, the 49ers can feel fortunate to escape with a victory and a one-game lead in the division.
The 49ers bounced back on a short week to withstand a gritty performance from the Cardinals, who gave the NFC West leaders everything they could handle.
Despite some agonizing moments for Garoppolo, he rallied the team with a game-winning drive late in regulation.
The defensive performance was not dominant, but the 49ers made the plays necessary to win for the ninth time in 10 games this season.