In a defensive battle, on a day where runningback Frank Gore was shut down, the 49ers managed to pull off at thrilling 20-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals. This is a big statement to make in the very first meeting with the former NFC West champions
The San Francisco 49ers flew into Arizona with a very motivated spirit and played like it. They had every reason to want to win even more after the Cardinals celebrated their home opener by raising their NFC East Champion and NFC Champions banners up in the rafters. The Cardinals defense completely shut down Frank Gore as he had just 33 yards on 22 carries. It was clear Dansby and his squad came in prepared for the 49ers brutal running game. It had a mellow feeling in the first half as it was a low scoring game. Shaun Hill was playing exceptionally well and his play really made the difference. The 49ers got out of the first quarter up by a score of 6-0 on two Joe Nedney field goals. Rackers would respond with a field goal of his own to cut the deficit in half. Although Gore was shut down, he did manage to plunge in two touchdowns, including a 6 yard run to put the 49ers up 13-6 at the half. Both teams did a good job up to this point shutting down the rushing attacks of their opponents. The 49ers had just 21 total yards rushing and the Cardinals had 40 at the end of the game. Kurt Warner looked a little shaky in the first half as he threw two picks, that held the Cardinals offense down and Larry Fitzgerald was without any catches at the half.
It didn't take the Cardinals long to wake up, as Warner broke out of his little funk and found Fitzgerald finally in the endzone after a 69 yard drive. This was by far in my eyes the best Warner looked all game. He looked a little out of character even though he did have 288 yards through the air. Some of the throws he made just weren't there and he didn't look like the confident, superbowl quarterback he was last season. There is no cause for concern as it is the first game but it was notable. Shaun Hill didn't exactly light up any numbers but he didn't make any costly mistakes and threw the game winning touchdown to Frank Gore from three yards out. The final drive, the Niners' marched 80 yards down the field trailing 13-16. Hill guided the team as he stepped it up when he needed to. With the rushing attack slowed down, the 49ers had questions if Hill could be their guy to be relied on. He delivered and the 49ers stunned the Cardinals, spoiling their home opener with a 20-16 victory. Even better, the team starts off on a positive not 1-0. The team got off to a hot start last season but cooled down, hopefully they can fair much different this time around.
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Written by Zach Arce