ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals’ questionable play call on defense leads to 49ers’ game-winner

Nov 17, 2019, 6:22 PM | Updated: Nov 18, 2019, 8:07 am
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals were ahead for most of Sunday’s 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Facing arguably one of the best teams in the NFL, the Cardinals were up heading into the fourth quarter.

A lead change wouldn’t hurt their psyche either, as Arizona responded to a San Francisco score with one of its own to hold the advantage with just 6:30 left to play.

Then things got a bit strange.

With the game on the line and two minutes to play, the 49ers started their drive at their own 35-yard line. Behind San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers moved down the field, pulling within 25 yards of pay dirt with 31 seconds left in regulation. Even with their backs against the wall, the Cardinals continued to dig in, having already forced Garoppolo to toss not one but two red zone interceptions on the afternoon.

Looking to put as much pressure as possible on the opposition, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph sent the farm after the signal caller.

There was just one issue: Arizona’s best pass rusher and arguably the best player on the defense in Chandler Jones wasn’t used to disrupt the QB.

He was sent out into coverage.

“I was trying to win, [Garoppolo] was moving the ball, we weren’t getting that much pressure on the guy so I was trying to generate pressure, obviously, and we had a guy free,” Joseph told reporters about the play call. “Jimmy made a play, it was off his back leg, he made a nice play to his halfback. It was a well-timed call and well done job by Jimmy. We’re trying to win games, I wasn’t going to leave her not trying to win the game and that’s the deal.”

The play resulted in an eventual game-winning 25-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Wilson Jr, the player Jones was assigned to, leaving many wondering as to why Joseph would have his best player out of position on the most important play of the game.

“He was just open, we just got to execute,” rookie cornerback Jalen Thompson told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Paul Calvisi after the loss. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to, we just got to execute, do our jobs and coaches are putting us in good positions so we just got to make the plays.”

Kliff Kingsbury gave props to the running back for making move, adding the 49ers executed at the end to get the win.

“We have a long ways to go, guys are playing hard,” Kingsbury told Calvisi. “Great intensity, great effort but in critical moments we’re not making enough plays and they are.

“I’ll have to watch the film to see the [game-winning play] closer but looked like the running back made a nice play and Jimmy made a nice read,” Kingsbury added when talking the final offensive touchdown of the game. “They executed.”

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San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) cannot catch a pass while defended by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Haason Reddick during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs between San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (55) and defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (77) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, center, passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley (82) runs against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk (44) catches a pass in front of Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) rolls out against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley (82) scores against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley (82) celebrates after scoring against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, left, catches a pass against Arizona Cardinals strong safety Jalen Thompson (34) and strong safety Budda Baker (32) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) runs against San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) and middle linebacker Fred Warner (54) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, left, talks with head coach Kliff Kingsbury during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Kevin Peterson (27) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) celebrates after scoring against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, left, is congratulated by Arizona Cardinals wide receiver KeeSean Johnson after scoring against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, top, is tackled by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy (33) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. At right is defensive tackle Rodney Gunter. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (30) runs toward the end zone to score against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (30) celebrates with fullback Kyle Juszczyk (44) after scoring against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (30) celebrates after scoring against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, left, greets San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa after an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, left, greets Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury after an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) stands on the field after an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers free safety D.J. Reed Jr. (32) returns a fumble to score against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (12) is congratulated by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald after scoring against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, center, celebrates with wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) and running back Kenyan Drake (41) after scoring against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) rolls out against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) and free safety Jimmie Ward, rear, during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, right, sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, left, runs toward the end zone to score past San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley, right, is congratulated by wide receiver Kendrick Bourne after scoring against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (12) is congratulated by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald after scoring against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, left, runs against San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

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