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Rapid Reactions: Cardinals take 49ers down to the wire yet again in loss

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 17: Running back Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the NFL game at Levi's Stadium on November 17, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Another day, another tight game with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Arizona Cardinals may be 3-7-1 after falling 36-26, but came to play against the 9-1 49ers.

Leading for most of the game, the Cardinals seemed poised to steal one on the road. But just as it looked like the team would snap their losing streak, a questionable play call on defense late in the game resulted in a San Francisco game-winning score.

Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff:

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

A game like Sunday’s tries your patience. Like last week, the Cards had a lead late. Like last week the defense couldn’t come through at the end. And just like last week all the positives that are plain to see are harder to appreciate because the Cards are denying themselves what they’ll ultimately be judged by: wins. There are so many positives to take from this game. The strong start by the Cards offense. Another turnover-free game from Kyler Murray in which Kliff Kingsbury expertly mixed Murray’s arm talent with his legs. But Jimmy G became the latest QB to skewer the Cards defense. And that decision to drop Chandler Jones into coverage was, at best, odd.

No more congratulations for close. The Cards have graduated to a higher level of expectation now.

Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter:

People can call for Vance Joseph’s job all they want, but the game that came down to one stop probably should be looked at as a whole. And as a whole, Kliff Kingsbury had a very good 49ers team and coaching staff shook for a full quarter before San Francisco got itself together. Arizona had a late lead needing to make one prolonged drive or one stop to get it done.

You know that didn’t happen. Chandler Jones in coverage of a running back looks bad — but did you see that route concept by Kyle Shanahan that had Jeff Wilson Jr. faking a wheel route and then suddenly strutting straight up the field against Jones? That was a great set-up. Maybe he got the best of Joseph and Jones, but he had all game long for more than play-calling reasons.

Arizona’s personnel issues continue to bite them with one trustworthy linebacker and a struggling No. 1 corner to work with. It’s extremely limiting. For the most part, Joseph called a fine game. As for the offense, that is about as good as it gets for a rookie play-caller and quarterback against that defense. It was a missed opportunity, and honestly, who thought the Cardinals would even be in that spot anyway?

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

This is getting old. Cardinals play well enough to win only to lose when Vance Joseph’s defense folds like a cheap suit. Hey Vance — Really? Seriously? Chandler Jones in coverage on the biggest play of the game? That you just won the Super Bowl celebration when Jalen Thompson intercepted a deflected pass was a little premature Vance. Wasn’t like your defense made some great play, Jimmy G made a bad pass. Just like he did when he threw one right to Jordan Hicks. Yes, two interceptions in the second half but everyone and their mother will tell you those were on Garoppolo.

When it mattered. like when it really mattered, your swiss cheese defense allowed the 49ers to drive 65 yards for the go-ahead score like it was taking candy from a baby. Quick how many of you did not know that the 49ers were going to score when they got the ball back with 2:12 left at their own 35 yard line? Anyone? If you said you didn’t know then you are either a liar or drinking too much Kool Aid. Of course the 49ers were going to score — Vance made sure of that!

Which brings me to this point — Hey Kliff — Vance’s defense can’t make a big play when it really matters. You could have not been so conservative after the fluke INT gave you the ball with 4:32 left at your own 25. You know a few first downs ices the game. You do realize you can’t give the ball back to the 49ers because you have Vance calling the defense right? So why so conservative? Why a 3-and-out instead of some Kingsbury daggers? Couple first downs that’s all you needed. Waste their two timeouts. Didn’t need you to score any points just move the ball 30 yards.

Instead, your play calling has Arizona going backwards — yes, the Cardinals actually started at their own 25 but ended up on their own 19. Kliff — you can’t trust the defense to win you the game. Not this year. Chandler Jones one of the best pass rushers in the National Football League in pass coverage versus a running back with 39 seconds left — you can’t make this stuff up.

Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter:

If you would have told me the Cardinals would hold the 49ers to just 34 yards on the ground, I would have figured Arizona won by 10, not the other way around.

After going toe-to-toe with the one-loss 49ers for second game, the Cardinals couldn’t get over the hump once again. Arizona led for most of the game but couldn’t get one last stop when it counted most on a questionable call from DC Vance Joseph, who decided to send the team’s best pass rusher out in coverage, allowing for the shifty Jeff Wilson Jr. to score on the 25-yard game winner.

The good:

The defense held Jimmy G in check for most of the game, giving up just one score from the signal caller in the first half.

The bad:

The defense let that same QB unload on the secondary to the tune of four scores — two to a backup tight end — and more than 420 yards on 34-of-45 passing when it was all said and done.

As for the running back situation, Kenyan Drake seems to have the trust of Kingsbury and the offense in just three short weeks, where as David Johnson continues to regress, failing to record a catch or a carry in the loss.

That begs the question, when Chase Edmonds returns from action — the RB said he was targeting a return following the bye — what does that mean for DJ in the backfield?

It’ll be an interesting bye week to say the least.

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