A lot of fans wanted the 49ers to lose for a better draft pick, but a win is a win. If the team wants a player, they’ll trade up for him. The mood after a victory compared to a loss is stark. It was nice to have George Kittle back, and C.J. Beathard should deserve credit for keeping the offense on schedule.
“We’re not proud of our record, we’d like to be better, but that doesn’t tell the story of who we are,” Shanahan said.
t’s been a difficult past 12 months for Beathard, whose brother Clayton was fatally stabbed last December outside a bar in Nashville, Tennessee. The quarterback is popular among his teammates because of his upbeat personality despite personal and football setbacks.
“That’s why people don’t mind breaking their neck for him,” Wilson said.
Beathard wasn’t amazing on Saturday but avoided big mistakes. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards, Wilson earned hard yards on the ground and the 49ers came up with two big defensive stops late in the fourth quarter, including Ahkello Witherspoon’s interception of Kyler Murray’s pass in the end zone.
“I think CJ played awesome,” Shanahan said. “I thought he made some plays in the pass game, made some in the zone read … Just his leadership out there, the way the guys gravitated to him.”
Following the touchdown, San Francisco’s Robbie Gould missed a crucial extra point that kept it a one-possession game at 20-12. He also missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt with 1:05 left. But the 49ers overcame those mistakes and held on for the win.
The Cardinals had a promising opening drive that bogged down in the red zone and ended up settling for a 3-0 lead after a 27-yard field goal by Mike Nugent. It was a common theme for Arizona, which moved the ball at times, but couldn’t hit on enough big plays downfield.
“We didn’t execute as well as we probably could have,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “I didn’t call as good of plays as I could’ve. Give them a ton of credit because I thought they were phenomenal with their effort and execution.”
San Francisco took a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter on a 21-yard pass from Beathard to Wilson and the 49ers took a 7-6 advantage into halftime.
Twas the day after Christmas and the Arizona Cardinals had an opportunity to prove their playoff worth.
Instead, they showed they clearly are not, losing to the San Francisco 49ers 20-12 on an afternoon where …
- The defense made running back Jeffery Wilson Jr. look like an All-Pro and quarterback C.J. Beathard appear to be more than a third-stringer.
Wilson totaled 204 yards from scrimmage with 183 yards rushing on 22 carries and another 21 on one reception that went for a touchdown. On too many occasions, he simply had open spaces to run.
Beathard completed 13 of 22 passes for 187 yards (14.0 per completion) and had a passer rating of 125.4.
Overall, the 49ers had seven plays of 21 yards or more and another 10 of 10-plus. They gained 398 yards on only 55 plays, an average of 7.2.
- The offense was virtually a no-show. The Cardinals were brutal on first-down plays, running 30 for a total of 67 yards. That included a remarkable 16 where they had zero or minus yardage.
Reporters asked Kittle what he thought of the playoff-shifting 49ers win on Saturday and the San Francisco tight end didn’t hold back his feelings with his answer.
“I will say this: I grew up a Bears fan and the fact we helped the Bears makes me happy. Da Bears!” he said, courtesy of 49ers reporter Cam Inman.
Cardinals fans can’t be happy with Kittle’s comments. But Arizona certainly didn’t play well enough to win.
Kyler Murray was under fire all afternoon long, as he ended the day with one of his worst performances of the year. The young Cardinals quarterback threw for just 245 yards and an interception, while scampering for 75 additional yards on the ground. He looked uncomfortable for most of the day which didn’t bode well for Arizona.
Behind a revamped Mitch-Trubisky-led offense, the Bears should be in good shape come Sunday. A win over the Jaguars puts Chicago firmly in the driver’s seat for a trip to the playoffs.
Best of all?
George Kittle will probably be on his couch cheering for the Bears to get the job done.
But the conditions on the draft pick were unusual, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported in November. Normally, the conditions would cause the draft pick to move up a round or two in that same draft year, but according to Breer, the 49ers could have gotten a 2021 fifth-round pick if Alexander had met certain playing time benchmarks with the Saints.
It’s unclear what the playing time requirements were for the compensation to convey as a 2021 pick, but with Alexander missing the final game of the season, there’s a chance he might not meet the threshold.
Alexander played in his seventh game with the Saints on Friday, so it’s possible he did meet the requirements. Presumably, the 49ers and Saints will make an announcement in the coming weeks regarding whether the pick will remain a 2022 selection or move up to 2021.
But for now, the immediate concern is with the health of Alexander, who could miss a portion or all off the 2021 NFL season as he recovers from the Achilles injury.