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.”