Five turnovers turn 49ers' 'domination' into 28-18 loss to Cardinals


Five turnovers turn 49ers' 'domination' into 28-18 loss to Cardinals

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers’ statistical advantage over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday was mind-blowing.

You name the statistical category, and the 49ers dominated it.

Actually, there were two rather important areas where the Cardinals came out way ahead. They won the turnover battle, 5-0, which enabled them to leave Levi's Stadium with a 28-18 victory, giving first-year head coach Steve Wilks his first NFL win.

“You look at the stat sheet, usually when it’s 90 plays to 40, or something like that, you double them in time of possession, yards, our defense played their tails off, did good on third down,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You look at a lot of those things, and it’s hard to find how we lost the game.

“But it’s very easy to look at the turnover column. I haven’t been a part of any game -- I don’t think many people have -- where five turnovers to zero leads to a win. We have to improve that drastically to have a chance.”

The 49ers lost the game, falling to 1-4 on the season, but they won the meaningless statistical comparison in a landslide:

-- The 49ers piled up 33 first downs, compared to the Cardinals’ 10.

-- The 49ers doubled Arizona in total yards, 447 to 220. They dominated the Cardinals in the air (300 to 164) and on the ground (147 to 56).

-- San Francisco converted 10 of 17 third downs (59 percent), while the Cardinals struggled with just 2 of 12 conversions (17 percent).

-- The 49ers ran 92 plays to Arizona’s 49, and doubled the Cardinals in time of possession -- 40 minutes, 12 seconds to 19:48.

“It’s pretty hard to win with five turnovers,” 49ers receiver Pierre Garçon said. “We talk about it every day in practices that we got to protect the ball. We didn’t do that today.”

Said left tackle Joe Staley: “We got to hold onto the ball. That’s what we talk about all the time. We did a terrible job on offense of not turning the ball over. The frustration is a loss.”

Quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 34 of 54 passes for a career-high 348 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. He also lost two fumbles on sacks, accounting for four of the team’s five turnovers. No. 3 running back Raheem Mostert also lost a fumble.

“We dominated in so many categories, we should’ve won the game,” 49ers running back Alfred Morris said. “But if you look at the one that really matters, that’s turnovers. Usually, when you win the turnover battle, your chances of winning the game are a lot higher. They won the game even though we dominated them in so many other categories.”

Why Kyle Juszczyk's wife was upset with 49ers' Matt Breida on Sunday

Why Kyle Juszczyk's wife was upset with 49ers' Matt Breida on Sunday

SANTA CLARA -- Fullback Kyle Juszczyk’s wife, Kristin, was watching the 49ers’ game Sunday on a flight from New York to the Bay Area when she saw her husband sustain an injury after catching a short pass in the fourth quarter.

“Immediately when I went down, she started crying,” Juszczyk said. “And, then, when I got up ... "

When Juszczyk got up following the penalized hit from New Orleans Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Kristin saw something on the screen that made her direct her emotions toward 49ers running back Matt Breida.

“Oh, my, God, my wife freaked out,” Juszczyk said, laughing.

“When I got up, Breida hit me on the head, and she’s like, ‘I could f--king kill you, Breida!’ Classic.”

Breida was shown on live TV patting Juszczyk on his helmet several times as the 49ers’ fullback left the field en route to the medical tent for a mandatory concussion evaluation.

Inside the tent, Juszczyk was asked questions and tested for eye movement and stability. He did not experience any concussion symptoms and returned to the game.

“Luckily, my head was OK, so it didn’t matter,” Juszczyk said of his Breida’s ill-advised gesture of support.

Immediately after absorbing the hit, Juszczyk grabbed at his helmet with both hands.

[RELATED: 49ers fear top nose tackle D.J. Jones out for season]

“Honestly, it just kind of scared me,” he said. “You take that hit, and it did hurt my neck. So I just reached back there.”

Juszczyk said he still feels as if he was in a car accident, but his neck is feeling better due to a lot of treatment, including acupuncture. He was a full participant in the 49ers’ practice on Wednesday.

Why Kyle Shanahan once was determined to coach for Dan Quinn's Falcons

Why Kyle Shanahan once was determined to coach for Dan Quinn's Falcons

SANTA CLARA -- Kyle Shanahan convinced then-Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine with a 32-point presentation to let him out of the final two years of his contract as offensive coordinator following the 2014 season.

Then, Shanahan was unemployed and getting increasingly anxious about where he was going to be heading next on his football coaching odyssey.

His plan was to join Dan Quinn’s staff.

But Quinn, then the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, did not yet have a head-coaching job. And he could not become a head coach until the Seahawks’ season concluded. Seattle advanced to the Super Bowl that season.

“I was specifically hoping to go to Atlanta, but Dan still had another five weeks going through their playoff run, their bye week and the Super Bowl,” Shanahan recalled on Wednesday. “I knew that talking to him that it would be a chance if he did end up taking a job and stuff, but he turned one down (head-coaching offer) the year before.

“Sitting there without a job, it wasn’t like I was just totally set and confident that it was going to happen. But I was definitely hoping it would.”

Shanahan was determined to join Quinn’s staff, despite never before meeting Quinn. He knew of Quinn’s reputation, and the two men had spoken on the phone. But it was not until the Monday after Seattle’s loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl that they first met face-to-face.

“I was already sitting there in the office, so I met him that Monday in person,” Shanahan said. “I always thought he was going to be a great guy on the phone, and then after being able to spend two years there with him, learned a lot from him. It was good to be in a good place like that and really enjoyed the players, too.”

Shanahan was Quinn’s offensive coordinator for two seasons before the 49ers hired him as head coach the day after the Falcons’ crushing Super Bowl loss to the Patriots in February 2017.

[RELATED: Falcons coach Quinn defends Shanahan's Super Bowl play-calling]

The 49ers will face the Falcons on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. Shanahan's 49ers are 11-2 and atop the NFC, while Quinn’s job appears to be in jeopardy as Atlanta is 4-9 in his fifth season as coach.

Shanahan said he specifically targeted joining Quinn’s staff to join because he found Seattle’s style of defense to be particularly vexing as an offensive coordinator. He wanted to get close to that kind of defense to learn more about it.

He freely admits that part of his purpose was to study the Falcons' defense to help him down the road when facing teams that play the three-deep zone concepts. He also had an eye to the future -- if or when he became an NFL head coach.

“That’s why I wanted to go to a place like that as a coordinator and that’s why when I became a head coach I was hoping to get someone who knew that type of defense and also knew how to expand it,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan eventually hired Robert Saleh to become defensive coordinator. Saleh spent the 2013 on the Seahawks’ defensive staff when Quinn was defensive coordinator.