The 49ers’ Offense Deserted their Defense on the Road in the Desert

Niners Live, heading into week four of the NFL schedule, provided the Faithful the: Pregame Marquee Match ups vs. The Arizona Cardinals.  And now we drop our post-game recap and another objective dose of reality: The 49ers’ Offense Deserted their Defense in the Desert on the road at the University of Phoenix Stadium.


The San Francisco 49ers went on the road to take on their arch division rivals the Arizona Cardinals on their own home turf at the University of Phoenix Stadium. They came up short in a heartbreaker by the 49er killer himself, Wideout and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, who torches the 49ers more than any active player in the NFL for touchdowns (17 career times to be exact). Final overtime score: San Francisco 49ers 15, Arizona Cardinals 18. 

Defense, the Highlights with Extreme Violence

  • Aaron Lynch accounted for one solo tackle total and one tackle for a loss. Lynch was responsible for Ray-Ray getting his interception. It was his pressure that forced the errant throw by quarterback Carson Palmer. 
  • Ray-Ray Armstrong accounted for 10 tackles, eight being solo, one sack, one tackle for a loss and one QB hit. This is the Ray-Ray we saw last year before he got hurt; a lot of energy, passion and athletic/playmaking ability on display.
  • Earl Mitchell accounted for two tackles, one being solo, 0.5 for a tackle for loss and two QB hits. 
  • Solomon Thomas, the prize #3 overall pick in the draft, recorded his first career sack, five solo tackles total, two tackles for losses and four QB hits. 
  • NaVorro Bowman had eight total tackles, four being solo, 0.5 tackle for a loss, one pass defended and a QB hit. Bowman had a clear drop of an interception fall right out of his hands but you still have to give him credit for doing his part to hold the Cards to just 51 yards rushing. 
  • DeForest Buckner accounted for four solo tackles total, one sack, two tackles for loss, one pass defended and four QB hits. Buckner had several pressures in this game and was dominant against the Cards backup interior offensive linemen that recently came off the practice squad and depth/replacement guys.
  • Elvis Dumervil recorded two sacks on the day, sack 100 and 101, and as he stated, they come in bunches. He also had two solo tackles total, two tackles for losses and two QB hits. 
  • Jaquiski Tartt finished with seven tackles, four being solo and one tackle for a loss. Tartt played a role in holding the Cards to just 51 yards rushing from his in the box safety position. 
  • Eli Harold had two solo tackles total, one tackle for a loss, one sack, and one QB hit. 
  • Bradley Pinion makes this list as he helped control the field position game and was an added weapon on defense with his 50.1 punting net average on seven attempts while pinning the Cards inside the 20 three times.

Defense, the Lowlights

  • Ahkello Witherspoon was inactive for the 4th straight week.
  • Rashard Robinson accounted for six tackles all solo and four passes defended. He also was beaten several times and had a multiple pass interference/penalties called against him.
  • Dontae Johnson accounted for eight tackles, seven being solo and two passes defended. He also was beaten several times and had a pass interference call against him.
  • K’Waun Williams had eight tackles, five being solo and no passes defended. He has to share the blame with (DC Robert Saleh on his coverage defensive play call) for the last play of the game’s walk-off TD by wideout Larry Fitzgerald.
  • Arik Armstead accounted for one stat on the night; a QB hit. The whole defense had favorable matchups across the board with Arizona having three starting offensive linemen out of the game and inexperienced backups as their replacements. Note: Armstead did help collapse the pocket and set other guys up for sacks and he deserves some credit for being part of holding the Cards to just 51 yards rushing on 2.3 yards an attempt.
  • Jimmie Ward accounted for four solo tackles total and no passes defended or turnovers. Ward was flagged for a pass interference and shares the responsibility for giving the last play of the game’s walk-off TD by wideout Larry Fitzgerald (he’s still the last line of the defense, the “Eraser.”
  • Lorenzo Jerome had two tackles, one being solo.
  • Asa Jackson one solo tackle total (stats courtesy of

Defensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers Defense forced (1) turnover which tied the turnover battle Cards (1). The defense generated six sacks, 11 tackles for losses, 16 QB hits and several pressures against the Cardinals offensive’ line and quarterback Carson Palmer. The defense allowed 368 yards of total offense on 75 plays and allowed the Cards to only go 1 out of 4 in the red zone. The 49ers’ defense held Arizona to just 51 yards rushing at 2.3 yards per rush. The Cards’ offense went 5 of 16 on third down and totaled (25) first downs in the game (17) passing, (5) rushing, (3) by way of penalties. The 49ers’ defense (secondary) allowed Palmer to throw for 357 yards passing while completing 33/51 for a touchdown and one interception at 7.0 per pass play while generating a QBR 42.6 and a passer rating of 83.5 (summary stats courtesy of

Important to note: As of 10/2/2017 the 49ers are ranked 14th in total defense, while giving up 23.5 ppg.

Let’s look a little deeper: Nickel back K’waun Williams, who just this week was rewarded with a contract extension, accounted for eight tackles and did a solid job in coverage on Larry Fitzgerald for the majority of the game. However, most notably on the last play of the game, instead of staying glued or even getting a jam to affect the rhythm or timing of the route of his man, ala Fitzgerald in the slot, he decided to pass coverage to Ward, who had deeper depth in/on the back end of the end zone, and to Robinson, who was already covering his man on the far right; left his coverage to help Ward cover Fitzgerald. After he realized what had happened, it was too late to stop the walk-off touchdown by Larry “Legend”.

Was it a questionable coverage call by defensive coordinator Robert Saleh that called for Williams to pass his man off to Jimmie Ward? While using the trail underneath technique? Should Williams have at least gotten a jam on Fitzgerald? Do you let a future Hall of Famer run free off the line of scrimmage untouched? In crunch time?

Williams showed poor awareness, and after providing good initial coverage, left the door wide open from quarterback Carson Palmer to throw a high inside ball putting his help at a disadvantage. Robinson said in an interview (via NBC Sports bay area), “We had three men on one and I had a lot of ground to cover, good throw, good catch.”

Did Robinson indirectly lay blame towards DC Robert Saleh and Williams as aforementioned? 

Here’s what Matt Bowen of ESPN had to say about the play:

“Carson Palmer hit Larry Fitzgerald for the game-winner in OT on a straight seam route. With Fitzgerald aligned inside, the 49ers didn’t jam or re-route the release. That allowed Fitzgerald to work up the seam before the cornerback could overlap the throw.”

Are your eyes Wide open???

Offense, the Highlights

  • Carlos Hyde had 16 carries for 68 yards at 4.3 yards a pop along with five catches for 27 yards at a 5.4 average on six targets. Hyde had a crucial first down catch on a third-down play late in the game to sustain the drive that led to the 49ers taking the lead 15 to 12. 
  • Trent Taylor had five catches for 47 yards on 10 targets at an average of 9.4. Taylor’s role is increasing and he’s making key catches on third down most of the time when his number is called. The 5th round rookie/pick continues to take steps in the right direction. 
  • Kyle Juszczyk, the $20 million fullback, had one run for eight yards on a key third down conversion play, Juszczyk blocked well and had three catches for 15 yards at an average of 5.0 on three targets.
  • Robbie Gould was 5 out of 5 for Field goals and accounted for 15 points and was the offensive MVP of the game, so he makes this list.

Offense, the Lowlights

  • Brian Hoyer completed 24 of 49 passes (49.9%) for 234 yards at 4.8 per pass attempt, no touchdowns and one interception on a much to be desired performance. He posted abysmal 19.8 QBR and 54.3 quarterback rating while showcasing his consistent inaccuracy and turnover prone happy self. Flash backquote by Former GM and NFL Executive Charley Casserly summed it best in a recent interview when he said, “The more he starts, the more his accuracy betrays him.”
  • Aldrick Robinson had three catches for 52 yards at a 17.3 average on 12 targets and several drop balls including running the wrong routes, as well. 
  • Trent Taylor makes both lists. He had a second week of being flagged for offensive pass interference and a drop to his name.
  • Pierre Garcon had four catches for 36 yards at an average of 9.0 on eight targets and was basically a non-factor in the game courtesy of All-Pro lockdown corner Patrick Peterson. Telling stat: Peterson held Garcon to one catch for six yards in the first half.
  • Marquise Goodwin had one catch for 18 yards on two targets and left the game with an eye injury and a concussion, but before he left, he was never a threat in the game.
  • Matt Breida had nine rushes for 18 yards at 1.8 yards per rush and one catch for four yards on three targets. Note: He was adequate in the pass blocking game.
  • Logan Paulsen had a key drop pass in which Hoyer laid it right in his bread basket and he couldn’t deliver.
  • George Kittle had two catches for 35 yards at a 17.5 average on three targets. Kittle “Mr. Hands of Stone” continues to be consistent at dropping passes and being an inconsistent blocker. 
  • The entire offensive line makes this list: The 49ers’ O-line gave up three sacks and 10 hits. The running game couldn’t break the century mark and it only averaged 3.5 yards a pop. 

Offensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers had (20) first downs (6) rushing, (13) passing (1) penalties; converting on third down just 5 out of 19 times and 1 for 1 on 4th down and were 0 for 3 in the red zone. The 49ers accounted for 75 plays for 305 yards which 210 of that was from the passing game on 13 drives for 3.9 yards per play average. On the ground, the 49ers managed just 95 yards total at 3.5 yards a carry. Staying true to being undisciplined, the 49ers had 13 penalties for 113 yards and another back-to-back week of a pass interference call on Trent Taylor which he admitted this week he pushed off.  

Important to note: As of 10/2/2017 the 49ers are ranked 27th in total offense while averaging 17 ppg (via In 2016, under former 49ers’ head coach Chip Kelly, the 49ers averaged 19.3 ppg.

The time of possession was close, SF 33:13 and Cards 36:15. The 49ers’ offensive line gave up three sacks and 10 QB hits. Although not good or great by any means, the offensive line did, however, give Hoyer time in the pocket throughout this game to make plays, but either he was inaccurate with the ball, held the ball too long, turned it over, receivers ran wrong routes or it was simply a case of dropping passes. In the end, everything that could go wrong and keep this offense out the end zone, pretty much did go wrong. 

Quote of the Night

“You have to throw and catch better. It’s as simple as that, or at least it was in this game. When guys are open and you have time, you have to hit them. When he does hit you, you have to catch it. I know nobody’s perfect, but there was way too much of that between both positions today.” (Per head coach Kyle Shanahan and via the team’s website). 

The 49ers’ Offense Deserted their Defense on the Road in the Desert

Quarterback Brian Hoyer and the offense led by Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, clock management and play calling just, simply put, isn’t getting it done overall on a consistent basis. And, in this game, deserted their defense on the road at the University of Phoenix Stadium. You know what, this might sound crazy, but you can’t blame Hoyer for being who he is, and that’s a model of inconsistency that has always shown deficiencies in his game and talent level which Niners live tried to point out to anyone that would listen when we brought you, the Faithful: Are Brian Hoyer’s Deficiencies a part of the problem on offense?

It’s deeper than just Hoyer, though

No, this starts at the top and works its ugly head all the way down. Hoyer was sold to the fan base and the sports world to be the perfect stop gag to run Shanahan’s offense to perfection while being efficient at the same time over former 49ers’ starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. And as of right now, the 49ers are 0-4 and 0-3 in their division with more potential moral victories, heartbreaks, and losses in sight.  

49er updates, interviews and news:

Hoyer recaps his playQuote Roundup by playersfull highlights, and here’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan had to say about Sunday’s performance (via the team’s website).

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

Welcome to

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims .