San Francisco 49ers 20-12 Arizona Cardinals: C.J. Beathard steers San Fran to road win that derails Cards playoff push
The Cardinals (8-7) no longer control their own destiny in the NFC playoff race; if the Chicago Bears (7-7) win their final two games, they will reach the playoffs because of a tiebreaker over Arizona
Last Updated: 27/12/20 10:58am
Third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard threw three touchdown passes and Jeff Wilson ran for 183 yards as the San Francisco 49ers dealt a blow to the Arizona Cardinals' playoff hopes with a 20-12 road win on Saturday.
Beathard was making his first start since 2018 and previously owned a 1-9 record as a starting QB in the NFL, but the 27-year-old was efficient, if not spectacular, as he completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards and those three TDs.
- 49ers passing: C.J. Beathard, 13/22, 182 yards, 3 TDs
- Rushing leader: Jeff Wilson Jr., 22 carries, 183 yards
- Receiving leader: George Kittle, four catches, 92 yards
It was Wilson who earned the hard yards for the 49ers on the ground, while the San Francisco defence was mightily impressive in limiting the league's third-ranked offence to just 12 points.
The 49ers, up by just one score, came up with two key defensive stops late in the fourth quarter, including an Ahkello Witherspoon interception of Kyler Murray in the endzone.
The Cardinals (8-7) no longer control their own destiny in the playoff race. If the Chicago Bears (7-7) win their final two games, they will reach the playoffs because of a tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
- Cardinals passing: Kyler Murray, 31/50, 247 yards, 1 INT
- Rushing leader: Kyler Murray, eight carries, 75 yards
- Receiving leader: Christian Kirk, seven catches, 76 yards
Arizona started the day positioned as the No 7 and final team in the NFC playoff field, but the game was a struggle from the outset.
The Cardinals had a promising enough opening drive but got bogged down in the redzone and ended up settling for a 3-0 lead after a 27-yard field goal by Mike Nugent. It was a common theme for Arizona, who moved the ball in spurts, but couldn't hit on enough big plays downfield.
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San Francisco took a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter on a 21-yard pass from Beathard to Wilson and had a 7-6 advantage heading into half-time after Nugent fired through a second FG for Arizona.
The 49ers pulled ahead 14-6 in the third quarter on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Beathard to Kyle Juszczyk, the first of two touchdown receptions from the fullback.
Arizona scored what proved to be their only touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Kenyan Drake jumped on top of a pile and stretched his arm just over the goal-line for a one-yard score. Murray couldn't connect with DeAndre Hopkins on the two-point conversion and so the 49ers held a 14-12 lead.
The Cardinals' next offensive drive stalled at their own 35-yard line when they went for it on fourth-and-two. Another Murray-to-Hopkins attempt fell incomplete and the 49ers took over on downs.
A couple of plays later, Juszczyk caught his second TD, this one on a one-yard toss from Beathard off of play action with eight and a half minutes left in the contest.
Following the touchdown, San Francisco's Robbie Gould missed with an extra point attempt, keeping it a one-possession game at 20-12. He also missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt with a minute left - his third failure of the day - but the 49ers overcame those mistakes and held on for the win.
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