The first few minutes of the 2020 season seemed good for the San Fransico 49ers.
Robbie Gould started with a field goal to give the 49ers a 3-0 lead. For the Arizona Cardinals the 49ers defense forced a punt after allowing a first down. Raheem Mostert then took advantage of a mistake by rookie Isaiah Simmons resulting in a 76 yard touchdown reception and a 10-0 lead.
After San Francisco’s defense forced a three and out. Arizona’s defense did the same. Yet, blocked the punt of Mitch Wishnowsky and nearly returned it nearly got returned for a touchdown. Chase Edmunds caught a pass from Kyle Murray to open the scoring for the Cardinals and get within three.
Quite possibly the biggest moment of the game came on a drive by the 49ers that started late in the first quarter and ended in the second. Mostert got stopped short of the goal line on a fourth and inches keeping the score at 10-7. Kyle Shanahan challenged the ruling on the field and it got upheld. Though one angle did appears to show the football crossing the plane.
Arizona did get a scoring opportunity of their own on the ensuing drive. Kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a 52-yard field goal.
After a punt by the 49ers. Dre Greenlaw batted a pass of Murray that got intercepted by Jaquiski Tartt. Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense didn’t get much going and the result another field goal for Gould.
Still Arizona answered with a 56-yard field goal by Gonzalez.
Neither team wound up with points in the third quarter. At one point the 49ers were 0-7 on third downs. Arizona did manage to get their groove offensively in the fourth. Its first scoring drive took nearly seven minutes. Several penalties got called on the defense of San Francisco. Including a questionable holding call on K’Waun Williams who seemed to get grabbed more by DeAndre Hopkins. On that same play the officials ruled that Murray got outside of the pocket so there was no intentional grounding on the play or offsetting penalties. Kerry Hyder got called for unnecessary roughness after barely making contact with Murray and Emmanuel Moseley got called for pass interference on Christian Kirk.
Murray capped the drive off with a 22 yard touchdown run.
There was a feel good moment on the next drive for the 49ers as Jerrick McKinnon scored on a five yard touchdown reception from Garoppolo. It was his first touchdown in nearly three calendar years.
unfortunately the 49ers defense couldn’t come up with the stop. Which is difficult when one of the best wide receivers in the game, Hopkins doesn’t get covered. He didn’t wind up with the touchdown, Kenyan Drake did one play later.
With plenty of time Garoppolo got his chance for the win. He didn’t make the plays when needed. He had a shot at finding Kendrick Bourne in the end zone, yet under threw the football. On fourth down he got the ball out late to Trent Taylor and the pass got broken up by Byron Murphy. If he got it out it’s a first down and possibly a touchdown.
Cardinals then ran out the clock and picked up the 24-20 victory.
For Shanahan and the 49ers getting their receivers more involved is a must; Bourne, Taylor, Dante Pettis and Richie James combined for four catches for 41 yards. Of the 33 passing attempts for Garoppolo the receivers got targeted 11 times.
Mostert led the way with 95 yards on four receptions. George Kittle also caught four and those were all in the first half. He did hurt his knee late in that half. The biggest issue that will need to get addressed is the lack of success on third downs. San Francisco went 2-11 and it seemed like the defense spent a lot of time on the field.