San Francisco 49ers: Turnovers lead to sloppy loss to Arizona Cardinals

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Cassius Marsh #54 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after he recovered a fumble by Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions at Levi's Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Cassius Marsh #54 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after he recovered a fumble by Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions at Levi's Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers get careless as they cough the ball up five times in loss to the Arizona Cardinals, 28-18

The San Francisco 49ers entered week five at 1-3, with their roster beaten up on both offense and defense as they faced the winless Arizona Cardinals.

It may have been a little early in the season to call this is a must-win game. But it kind of felt that way.

However, with San Francisco looking at tough matchups against the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams in the next two weeks, this was a good opportunity to notch their second win of the season.

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Injuries have hit the 49ers hard so far this season. They entered today’s game without wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis, and cornerback Jimmie Ward. On the offensive line, Joe Staley, Weston Richburg, and Mike McGlinchey were all nursing injuries but managed to start the game. Running back Matt Breida and CB Richard Sherman were also playing while banged up.

This week’s matchup with Arizona was certainly a winnable game, as the Cardinals had gone 0-4 to start the season as the NFL’s worst offense. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, the 10th overall draft pick from UCLA, was looking for the first win of his career.

While the Cardinals had the dubious distinction of being the lone remaining winless team, their two most recent games were competitive.

The Cardinals led the Chicago Bears 14-0 before falling 16-14. And last week against the Seattle Seahawks, the Cardinals lost 20-17 as Sebastian Janikowski kicked a game-winning field goal for Seattle as time expired.

The 49ers looked good early against the Cardinals, as they marched down the field on their first possession. A couple of effective screen passes to fullback Kyle Juszczyk set up a 5-yard shovel pass from C.J. Beathard to Matt Breida for the game’s first score.

It was good to see the 49ers execute in the red zone; coming into the game, they were last in the NFL in red zone efficiency. The 49ers led 6-0 though, after they botched the extra point.

The lead was short lived, however. On the Cardinals first play from scrimmage, Rosen hit wide receiver Christian Kirk for a 75-yard touchdown. Suddenly the 49ers were behind 7-6.

Later in the first quarter, the 49ers had their first turnover, as Pierre Garcon tipped a Beathard pass into the hands of safety Tre Boston, thereby killing the drive.

Breida, already playing with a sore shoulder, injured his ankle, and left the game. In the second quarter, his replacement Raheem Mostert fumbled the ball for the Niners second turnover. Patrick Peterson returned the ball 43 yards, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by David Johnson.

Despite outgaining the Cardinals in yardage in the first half, the 49ers were down 14-6.

On San Francisco’s first possession of the second half, their drive was once again killed by a turnover. With the Niners driving down the field, Chandler Jones knocked the ball out of Beathard’s hand, and outwrestled him for possession.

In the fourth quarter, Robbie Gould missed his first field goal of the season for the 49ers. On the next drive, the Niners closed the gap to 14-12 on a drive highlighted by a 45-yard pass from Beathard to tight end George Kittle.

Trent Taylor caught the 1-yard pass for the score. The 49ers failed in their two point attempt, but clearly had momentum on their side.

They forced the Cardinals into a three-and-out and got the ball back on their on 32. But three plays later, Beathard fumbled again and linebacker Josh Bynes ran the ball back 23 yards for the defensive touchdown. The Cardinals led 21-12.

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With time running out and the San Francisco 49ers in desperation mode, Beathard committed the 49ers fifth turnover as Bene Benwikere picked off his pass down the middle.

Five plays later, David Johnson scored his second rushing touchdown of the game.

The 49ers added a late touchdown but failed on the two-point attempt, making the final score 28-18.

There were a couple of positive takeaways for the 49ers. Their tackling, which had been a big problem earlier, was much improved in this game. There were no back-breaking missed tackles.

The 49ers also moved the ball well against the Cardinals and ran 92 plays from scrimmage, compared to 49 for Arizona.

Next. San Francisco 49ers v. Arizona Cardinal live game day open thread. dark

But with a tough schedule in front of them, the San Francisco 49ers will need to play mistake-free football the next two weeks to avoid finding themselves at 1-6.