Somehow San Francisco ends up with the division title and a bye week.
The 49ers managed to grab the #2 seed in the NFC for a 2nd year in a row with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals 27-13 while the Minnesota Vikings managed to beat the Green Bay Packers 37-34 with a last second field goal. Michael Crabtree was a big part of the win for San Francisco with 8 catches for 172 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on the day.
“I mean he’s a play maker, that’s what he does,” Colin Kaepernick said about Crabtree after Sunday’s win. “You get the ball in his hands and he’s gonna go out there and do something with it.”
San Francisco (11-4-1) now gets a week off to rest and prepare for the divisional round while Green Bay (11-5) have to host a playoff game next week, ironically enough against Minnesota. The 49ers managed to clinch the NFC West for the 2nd straight season as well. The Arizona Cardinals finish last in the NFC West at 5-11, this after starting the season 4-0.
As for Crabtree’s big day, it got started in the 2nd quarter. With the ball at the SF 20 yard line, Crabtree caught a 31 yard pass from Kaepernick over the middle and then a 49 yard touchdown pass from Kaep on the very next play. Kaepernick finished the day 16/28 for 272 passing yards and 2 touchdown passes to Michael.
The 2nd TD pass to Crabtree came in the 3rd quarter on a 7 yard pass from Colin at the 2nd of a 5 play 38 yard drive. That score put San Francisco up by 11.
The career day for Crabtree also marks a milestone for him and the 49ers. Crabtree finishes the year with 1105 receiving yards on 85 catches. That makes Crabtree the first 49er receiver with over a 1000 receiving yards in a season since Terrell Owens in 2003.
“My dude made it happen,” Crabtree said about his milestone and Kaepernick. “I’m just going out there running routes, catching the ball, trying to make a play.”
Crabtree’s great performance might’ve been stemmed from his drive to succeed in the upcoming postseason.
“Like I said I’m really focusing on these playoffs you know with how bad I did last year,” Crabtree said “In my opinion I feel like I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. I feel like I get another chance, uh, back again and just ready to win.”
Their was some team history made on the next San Francisco possession. Frank Gore managed to score a 2 yard touchdown run which gave him his 51st rushing TD as a 49er passing Joe Perry and Roger Craig for the most in team history. Gore finished the game with 68 yards on 20 carries. That Gore TD run capped off a 12 play 72 yard drive which was kept alive with a 14 yard catch from Crabtree on a 4th and 6.
Why go for a 4th and 6 at the ARI 36? Possibly because of David Akers’ turbulent game and season. Though he would make two field goals with one being from 43 yards, he missed two other tries before that in the 2nd quarter; one from 44 yards and the next from 40 yards both going wide left. The 44 yarder could’ve been San Francisco’s first points of the game.
It could be questionable on whether or not Akers will be their kicker in the postseason based on 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh’s answer about it after the game.
“We’ll evaluate that,” Harbaugh said. “It’s his job to make the kicks.”
Akers finishes the 2012 regular season going 29/42 in field goals and making 10 of 20 field goal attempts from 40 yards or more.
The Cardinals offense struggled greatly after the 1st quarter. Arizona’s kicker Jay Feeley made two field goals with one being early in the 2nd quarter. After that, the Cardinals wouldn’t score again until the two minute warning in the 4th quarter when Brian Hoyer threw a 37 yard TD pass to Michael Floyd in the back of the end zone on a 4th and 24. The Cards were still behind by 14. They would try an onside kick to get more before the clock expired but it was recovered by San Francisco.
Arizona receiver Michael Floyd almost matched Crabtree in yards with 166 receiving yards, 8 catches, and that TD catch late. Larry Fitzgerald was thrown to 5 times but only caught the ball twice for 13 yards.
Brian Hoyer seemed mediocre in his first NFL start going 19/34 for 225 passing yards, that one touchdown pass to Floyd, and an interception thrown to Tarell Brown of the 49ers earlier in the 4th quarter. Hoyer was also sacked twice on the first two plays for Arizona in the 2nd half. San Francisco’s DT Rickey Jean-Francois and LB Ahmad Brooks were the ones to take down Hoyer.
Aldon Smith finished with no sacks in the game which means he finishes the year with 19.5 sacks, still behind Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 sacks in a season. Aldon’s last sack came in week 14 when he had 2 sacks vs. Miami. Houston’s J.J. Watt (20.5 sacks) and Denver’s Von Miller (18.5 sacks) also came up short of breaking Strahan’s record.
Alex Smith came into the game late when the 49ers were up by 21 with just under 6 minutes left in the game. He stayed in for the last two San Francisco possessions and even completed a short 6 yard pass to FB Bruce Miller. Despite the pass failing to covert a 3rd down, the Candlestick crowd gave him a noticeable cheer when he came off after his first drive back under center.
Overall numbers favored the 49ers. San Francisco had 407 total yards on offense while Arizona had 262 yards. Almost half of those yards for the Cardinals came in the first quarter as they outgained the 49ers 129-15 in that quarter. The 49ers also had the ball for just over 36 minutes in this game. That’s amazing considering the first three San Francisco possessions were three-and-outs.
A much needed week off now comes to the 49ers before their postseason begins, one that will be used to get rested and prepared.
“I think the biggest thing is just get healthy and keep working hard,” Kaepernick said looking ahead into the postseason. “We’re going to have a little time off, a little time to rest, then get ready to go into the following week full speed.”
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Written by Daniel Trucios