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49ers takeaways: What we learned in gritty 28-25 win over Cardinals

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49ers takeaways: What we learned in gritty 28-25 win over Cardinals

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. – If the 49ers can beat the Arizona Cardinals, something special must be brewing.

The 49ers on Thursday night snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Cardinals with a 28-25 victory. Not since Jim Harbaugh’s last game, the finale of the 2014 season, have the 49ers won against Arizona.

That streak includes last season, when the Cardinals won just three games the entire season and were granted the No. 1 overall draft pick as the worst team in the league. Arizona beat the 49ers twice.

The Cardinals selected quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick, while the 49ers went with defensive end Nick Bosa at No. 2. The 49ers maintained its lead in the NFC West, improving to 8-0 on the season.

Here are three things you need to know about the 49ers’ victory in Week 8:

Yes, Garoppolo can throw the ball

Is there still a question about whether Jimmy Garoppolo can hold up his end of the bargain?

When the 49ers’ run game got off to a rough start on Thursday, Garoppolo tossed the ball around the field to exploit the Cardinals’ young secondary.

In the 49ers’ first 21 offensive plays, Garoppolo completed 11 of 13 passes for 142 yards while the run game was sputtering along with just 18 yards on eight rushing attempts.

In the first half, Garoppolo completed 17 of 21 pass attempts for 172 yards and three touchdowns. He hit seven different receivers, including Emmanuel Sanders, who caught all five targets in the first half for 74 yards.

Two of his better throws came in the third quarter. He got rid of the ball early to avoid the rush. He dropped in a 22-yard pass to Sanders on a third-and-4 play past Baker and just as Sanders was turning to look for the ball. Three plays later, he again threw in anticipation and capitalized on a defensive mix-up for a 21-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis.

Garoppolo finished his night, completing 28 of 37 pass attempts for 317 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Kittle, the man who makes it happen

The 49ers’ season could have taken a dramatic turn on the first offensive play of the game when tight end George Kittle went down with an injury.

On a run play in which Kittle was blocking to the left, Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones came crashing from the opposite direction and inadvertently hit Kittle in the left knee. Kittle exited for the remainder of the drive.

Trailing 7-0 late in the first quarter, the needed a spark, and Kittle was just the man to provide it. He lined up in the right slot, beat free safety Budda Baker off the line of scrimmage to catch a pass over the middle. After making another man miss, Kittle tossed Baker aside near the goal line for a 30-yard touchdown.

Kittle had a score to settle with Baker, who was particularly animated on the series prior to that one when he broke up a third-down pass intended for Kittle. His play seemed to energize the team, which was a crucial element when returning to action on a short week.

Kittle finished with six receptions for 79 yards.

Alexander's injury cause for concern

Linebacker Kwon Alexander has played an important role on the 49ers with his speed, energy and playmaking ability. But there is definite reason for concern when he left the game in the fourth quarter with a chest injury.

The 49ers’ defense was not as sound as in previous weeks, but it still played a major role the club’s eighth consecutive victory to open the season. Three of the past four games have opened with the opposing offense marching down the field against the 49ers’ defense, which entered Thursday ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

The Cardinals moved the ball 71 yards on six plays, getting off to a strong start when newly acquired running back Kenyan Drake tore off a 36-yard run on the first play of the game. Drake ended the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.

But the 49ers’ defense dominated for the remainder of the half, until Arizona scored another touchdown on their first drive of the third quarter.

The pass rush generally did a good job of keeping Kyler Murray in check. Dee Ford, Dre Greenlaw and DeForest Buckner registered sacks.

The experience of defending Murray could be good practice for facing Russell Wilson. The 49ers return to action in Week 10 in a key NFC West matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, Nov. 11, at Levi’s Stadium.

Ravens' John Harbaugh reacts to 49ers' Tim Ryan's Lamar Jackson remarks

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Ravens' John Harbaugh reacts to 49ers' Tim Ryan's Lamar Jackson remarks

49ers broadcaster Tim Ryan was suspended for one game after comments made about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson following Sunday’s loss.

“He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with the dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see the thing,” Ryan said on the show (H/T The San Francisco Chronicle).

The comments created a social media firestorm, but Ravens head coach John Harbaugh isn’t interested in furthering the controversy.

“I don’t really know too much about it or understand the context of it. It’s not relevant to what we’re trying to accomplish right now,” Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.

[RELATED: 49ers' Harris to start at strong safety for injured Tartt]

Former 49ers defensive end Dennis Brown will replace Ryan on Sunday’s broadcast in New Orleans.

49ers injury report: Marcell Harris to start in place of Jaquiski Tartt

49ers injury report: Marcell Harris to start in place of Jaquiski Tartt

BRADENTON, Fla. – Marcell Harris on Sunday will be back where he ended his rookie season with the 49ers.

Harris will take over as the 49ers’ starter at strong safety with Jaquiski Tartt out for at least one game after sustaining cracked ribs in the team’s 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.

Tartt and backup defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow) have been ruled out for the 49ers’ game Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Two of the 49ers’ seldom-used wide receivers, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis, are listed as questionable, along with left tackle Joe Staley. Goodwin has knee and foot issues, according to the team, while Pettis has already missed one game with a knee injury.

Staley has missed three games after surgery to repair a fractured and dislocated finger. He is expected to play Sunday.

All other 49ers players, including Dee Ford and Richard Sherman, will be available for Sunday’s game.

Harris started the final five games of his rookie season after being a sixth-round draft pick from Florida in 2018. He did not earn a spot on the team’s 53-man roster at the beginning of this season. Harris was promoted from the practice squad in October and has appeared in nine games this season.

“I’m real happy for Marcell,” coach Kyle Shanahan said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3). “He’s gone come a long way, in that he was a very good college player, tore his Achilles his senior year, which really hurt him. That’s why we were able to get him in the draft. It affected him his whole rookie year.

"He’s been able to string together about eight months where he has been healthy, and when you’re made of the right stuff, you have the talent and you can stay healthy, you usually just need the time.”

Harris took over for Tartt on Sunday and made one of the top plays in the game when he took the ball away from Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on a running play to create a turnover.

[RELATED: Sanders has been valuable resource for 49ers' young WRs]

49ers injury report

Out
S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
DT Jullian Taylor (elbow)

Questionable
WR Marquise Goodwin (knee, foot)
WR Dante Pettis (knee)
T Joe Staley (finger)