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49ers vs. Cardinals: Live Grades and Analysis for San Francisco

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 29:  Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with his teammates after scoring a 3 yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick #7 against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter during a game at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 29, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Phil GCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2013

The San Francisco 49ers defeat the Arizona Cardinals, 23-20. On the leg of Phil Dawson and two crucial turnovers, this 49ers win gives them a 2-0 record against the Cardinals this season.

This loss officially eliminates the Cardinals from the postseason. In addition, this win by the 49ers locks them in as the fifth seed in the NFC.

As one of the two designated Wild Card teams, the 49ers will play the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field in the first round of the playoffs. 

Check below for final grades and analysis.



San Francisco 49ers - 23

Arizona Cardinals - 20

San Francisco 49ers Grades
Position UnitFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseA-B+
Run OffenseC-D-
Pass DefenseB-B-
Run DefenseBA-
Special TeamsBA-
vs. Cardinals Week 17


Game Analysis for the San Francisco 49ers

Pass Offense: For just a sixth-round pick, Anquan Boldin has proven to be the steal of the offseason. Anquan Boldin absolutely dominated his former team to the tune of 149 receiving yards and a touchdown. Where would the 49ers be this season without Boldin?

Run Offense: The Cardinals have the best rush defense in the league, bar none. With veterans like Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell setting the edge, Frank Gore was held to just 14 yards on 13 carries.

Pass Defense: In his second-consecutive game against this 49ers secondary, Carson Palmer threw for more than 250 passing yards. However, he also has three interceptions in the same time span. Credit the 49ers for taking advantage of a turnover prone quarterback.

Run Defense: Against a tough 49ers front seven, the Cardinals did little on the ground. However, it was concerning to see the Cardinals success with short runs on fourth downs. It's nothing major, but it's certainly something to keep a eye on with Eddie Lacy ahead.

Special Teams: Dawson’s impressive streak sadly ended in the second quarter this afternoon. However, the veteran kicker was the definition of clutch, hitting the game-winner to seal the 49ers victory.

Coaching: If there is one stat that should be recorded, it should be the effectiveness of the challenge flag. Is there any doubt that Jim Harbaugh would rank near the bottom of NFL coaches in this stat?

Dec 29, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detailed view of hair flying on the head of San Francisco 49ers running back Anthony Dixon prior to the game against the Arizons Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

First-Half Analysis for the San Francisco 49ers

Pass Offense: After recording just three catches for 28 yards in the 49ers Week 6 victory over Arizona, Boldin has more than tripled his total in just the first half of this afternoon's game. Against a solid secondary, the 49ers passing attack has looked superb thus far.

Run Offense: As expected, the Cardinals stout front seven has shut down Gore and the San Francisco rushing attack. The 49ers did have some early success with end-around plays, but they’ll have to eventually get Gore going. Gore finished with 14 yards on 13 carries.

Pass Defense: In his last two games against the 49ers, including this afternoon, Fitzgerald has at least two pass plays for over 40 yards. For the most part, the 49ers have done a good job in defending the deep ball, with Fitzgerald being the exception.

Run Defense: Despite some solid numbers from Rashard Mendenhall in the first half, the Cardinals have done little on the ground. Outside of a nice 28-yard gain by Mendenhall, the 49ers front seven has done their job in the first half.

Special Teams: Dawson made his 27th-consecutive field goal on the season in the first quarter, but sadly, his impressive run came to an end in the second quarter after his attempt hooked left.

Coaching: The 49ers struggles on the ground are concerning, but the play-calling was magnificent in the first half. In all honesty, the 49ers look like the team needing to secure a playoff berth.

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