San Francisco 49ers beat Arizona Cardinals 28-25 to stay perfect
49ers out to best start since 1990 as Jimmy Garoppolo throws for four touchdowns
Last Updated: 01/11/19 10:32am
San Francisco 49ers maintained their perfect start to the season, seeing off a battling Arizona Cardinals to record an eighth win in succession.
Having used their running game to strong effect over the opening eight weeks, it was the turn of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and his receivers, including recently acquired wideout Emmanuel Sanders to shine in a 28-25 victory at State Farm Stadium.
Garoppolo threw for 317 yards and found four different targets for touchdowns as San Francisco reach the halfway stage of the season with a 100 per cent record, but despite dominating they were never in total control.
Kenyan Drake marked his Cardinals debut with the opening score of the game to give Arizona an early 7-0 lead but despite the 49ers storming back with scores from George Kittle and Kendrick Bourne either side of the end of the opening quarter Arizona made them work every step of the way.
Twice the hosts trailed by 14 points, but led by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and rookie coach Kliff Kingsbury they stayed competitive throughout and chipped away at the 49ers lead closing to within three with Andy Isabella's 88-yard touchdown.
But San Francisco held on to remain one of only two unbeaten teams so far this season, alongside the defending champion New England Patriots who face Baltimore this weekend.
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The Cardinals came into the game without their top two running backs, David Johnson and Chase Edmonds, who were battling injuries so Drake started just days after his arrival via trade from Miami.
He wasted no time in announcing himself, running for a four-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game that only featured a 36-yard run on his first touch of the ball. He went on to lead the team with a 110 yards rushing and 162 total yards.
Questions had been asked about whether the 49ers could win in a different way and they came into the game with concerns of their own on the ground, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert had both been doubtful after a short turnaround from the weekend.
Both featured and after Tevin Coleman's 118-yard, four-touchdown showing last week, it was Breida who carried the load on the ground but Garoppolo who masterminded the comeback.
The 27-year-old tied up the game by finding Kittle for a 30-yard touchdown and after the 49ers dominant defense backed that up by keeping the Cards quiet on the final play of the first quarter, Garoppolo was able to lead his team on a seven-play 86 yard drive to start the second quarter with a Bourne touchdown.
Sanders was the next recipient as Garoppolo made it three touchdowns in three plays by finding his newest target for a one-yard score that gave the visitors a 21-7 half-time lead.
The teams traded touchdowns at the started of the third quarter, Murray finding KeeSean Johnson for the Cardinals first score since the game's opening drive only to see San Francisco hit straight through Dante Pettis 21-yard grab.
Zane Gonzalez scored the only field goal of the game to draw Arizona within 11 points and when they started the final quarter with a blazing Isabella taking a short Murray pass 88 yards they were withing striking distance, especially after Drake added the two point conversion.
But with the Cards defense unable to come up with a play to match their offense, the 49ers ate up the clock over the closing minutes and secured another victory.
49ers - San Francisco take their unbeaten record back to Levi's Stadium for a three-game run at home, starting with a mouthwatering divisional match-up against Seattle (6-2) in Week 10 followed by the Cardinals again in Week 11 and then the rolling Green Bay Packers (7-1) in Week 12.
Cardinals - Arizona will look to return to winning ways next Sunday when they travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) before their return contest with the 49ers in Week 11 leads them into their bye week.
Week Nine continues with Sunday's triple header on Sky Sports Action from 5pm, featuring Minnesota @ Kansas City following by Detroit @ Oakland before a huge AFC clash when Baltimore host New England.