It was a weird game right from the start. But then, what did the 49ers expect? The Cardinal defense has been rejuvenated. Active, smart and hard-hitting, it did well to cram the middle. Even first-down pass plays and some trickery did little against the Arizona defense.
But when the Niners have a 3-0 advantage in turnovers, had a 62-yard punt return to inside the Arizona five and about a 22:30-7:30 advantage in to time in the first half, the Niners were not able to open a sizeable lead. And from that the avid 49er fan can start to worry about the team’s chances in the playoffs.
Against better teams—and Arizona at home is playing much better—the Niners cannot expect to succeed when leaving so many points in the dirt. That’s what happens when three Red Zone possessions—three deep Red Zone possessions—bring only field goals, not TDs.
That’s nine instead of 21 points. That’s the difference in the game. And thus going forward, the Niners suffered for the first time from what they’re lacking to be a real threat in the NFL playoffs, touchdowns. From that here are the five things we learned in the 21-19 loss.