The San Francisco 49ers clinched the NFC West division with a 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals. They also clinched a first-round bye with the Green Bay Packers losing to the Minnesota Vikings to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
“We understood that we had a horrible loss last week,” said Ricky Jean Francois. “The coaches wanted to see the character of this team from the loss and we bounced back this week.”
Michael Crabtree finished with a career-high 172 receiving yards and two touchdowns receptions. He eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for receiving yards during the game for the first time.
In the second quarter, Crabtree put the 49ers on scoreboard quickly in two plays. A deep reception for 30 yards and a 49-yard touchdown catch put the 49ers up 7-6 after two early field goals by the Cardinals. For the second half, Crabtree caught his second touchdown of the day with a 9-yard grab on a third and goal. He also helped convert two fourth downs to keep drives alive.
“My quarterback made [this] happen,” said Crabtree. “He’s throwing the ball to me and making plays. I try to be the best I can be.”
Colin Kaepernick finished the game with a career-high of 276 passing yards and two touchdown passes.
To start the second half, Randy Moss had a 20-yard receptions and Crabtree helped the 49ers with a 29-yard reception on third down. David Akers made his first field goal attempt of the game with a 43-yard kick.
The defense was on fire with two consecutive sacks by Jean Francois and Ahmad Brooks to put the Cardinals deep in their own territory. Ted Ginn Jr. returned the ensuing punt for 20 yards and Delanie Walker had a 27-yard reception to eventually set up Crabtree’s second touchdown.
Second half adjustments continued to be strong with the 49ers giving the ball to Frank Gore. Gore had seven carries for 35 yards and one reception for 14 yards on the next possession. Crabtree converted a 4th and 6 with a seven-yard receptions. Gore finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown to put the game away. Akers tacked on another field goal to make the score 27-6. The Cardinals would throw a late touchdown to Michael Floyd to make the score look respectable at 27-13.
Harbaugh was pleased with what the 49ers did today. He said it was a slow first half, but the team did good enough to get the win. According to Harbaugh, there is still work to be done and the team has areas to fix.
“There are some areas that we can improve in,” said Harbaugh. “A win is never easy and this is just a game where people said the 49ers would win easily on paper, but games are never won on paper, they are earned on every play and series. We were good enough to win.”
Colin Kaepernick said he is happy to have a bye week, but he knows the work isn’t done. He hopes that practice and the extra week off can make the team better.
“The biggest thing is to keep getting healthy and work hard,” said Kaepernick. “We need to be ready the following week.”
Jean Francois said the team can refocus and be prepared for their opponent in the divisional playoff round. He said the bye week is huge since they don’t have to play another game for two weeks.
“We can turn up in the weight room and training room during this bye week,” said Jean Francois. “It gives recovering time for some of the injured guys and we can refocus on 49ers football.”
The Packers and Vikings will play each other again for the wild card playoff week. If the Packers win, they will come to Candlestick Park to face the 49ers on January 12. If the Vikings defeat the Packers, the 49ers will host the winner of the Seahawks vs. the Redskins.
-David Akers became a liability the game when he missed two field goals from 44 and 40 yards that were wide left. He made two out of four attempts. Harbaugh said he would evaluate the kicker position and claimed Akers was not playing up to his standards.
-While Michael Crabtree led all receivers in receptions and yards, no one else had more than three receptions. Randy Moss and Delanie Walker finished with two catches for 28 and 40 yards respectively while Frank Gore had three receptions for 21 yards.
-Gore struggled in the running game, but finished well with 68 rushing yards and a touchdown. His touchdown put him as the franchise leader for rushing touchdowns with 51 total. Gore now leads the franchise in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
-The defense clamped down after allowing six points in the first half. They forced two three-and-outs to start the second half as well as two turnovers.
-A.J. Jenkins was thrown to for the first time in his career, but he was unable to catch the ball as it slipped through his hands.