The Arizona Cardinals came into San Francisco today looking to upset the 49ers and prevent them from clinching the NFC West Division title, but it was not to be. Arizona started this game much the same way they began the season, strong. It looked like they might be able to pull off this upset, winning the field position war in the first quarter, and making good plays to gain yardage.
However, San Francisco’s stout defense, which has looked gassed since the 3rd quarter of the Patriots game, showed up in force today and held the Cardinals to only two field goals in the first half.
Colin Kaepernick started off slowly and looking a little unsure of his decisions, but he threw off the jitters and ended up having a career day, going 16/28 for 276 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no picks. Most impressive however, was the poise that he showed after such a slow start.
Frank Gore continued to set 49ers team records today by breaking the all time rushing touchdown record of 50, held in a tie by Roger Craig and Joe Perry, rushing for 68 yards and a touchdown to bring his total to 51.
Michael Crabtree continued his excellent season, catching eight passes for 172 yards, and both of Kaepernick’s touchdown passes came his way today. He proved why he was regarded as having the best hands in college football, with a fantastic one handed grab, and several other very athletic catches that led to extra yardage.
San Francisco’s defense played an excellent game and stopped the Cardinals hopes in true 49er fashion, by getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers. Ricky Jean-Francois, and Ahmad Brooks each recorded sacks, Terrell Brown picked off Cardinals quarterback Hoyer on a big play down the field that could have given the cardinals a good chance to put points on the board. Ray McDonald forced a fumble that was recovered by Donte Whitner.
The only real negative play came from David Akers who continues to struggle with his field goal kicking accuracy. He missed his first two attempts, 44 yards, and 40 yards respectively, pushing both left of the uprights. He later hit from 43, and again from 26, only proving that his ability to be consistent is questionable. He was 3/3 on PAT attempts.
With today’s win, the Niners clinched the NFC West Division title for the second time in as many years, as the sometimes confusing coaching style of Jim Harbaugh continues to win games. Also, since the Green bay Packers fell to the Minnesota Vikings today, the Niners also clinch the second overall seed, and a first round playoff bye.
If the 49ers offense and defense continue to run on all cylinders, as they did today, we should see another deep playoff run from this team who proved again today why they are the best in the West.