Cardinals move to 5-0 as defense holds 49ers in big moments

Oct 10, 2021, 2:59 PM | Updated: 5:16 pm
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers is stopped at the 1-yard line on fourth down against the A...
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers is stopped at the 1-yard line on fourth down against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter at State Farm Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance picked up 14 yards on the first play from scrimmage, then completed a 16-yard pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

The ball moved that easily for much of the first half of Lance’s first NFL start Sunday against the Cardinals, but points didn’t come as easily in a 17-10 win for Arizona.

The victory at State Farm Stadium moved the Cardinals to 5-0 for the first time since 1974, when they were the St. Louis Cardinals. They were already the only unbeaten team heading into Week 5.

Lance was dropped for no gain on the third play of the game and then threw an interception to Cardinals safety Budda Baker on the fourth.

Baker returned it 17 yards to the Arizona 45-yard line, setting up an eight-play, 66-yard drive for the Cardinals that ended with a James Conner 1-yard score.

Arizona’s defense, without its top two cornerbacks in Byron Murphy and Marco Wilson, would stand up at the important moments through much of the afternoon.

The Cardinals got a 4th-and-2 stop at their own 34-yard line on the second San Francisco possession of the game, then allowed the 49ers to go 93 yards on the third offensive touch before a monumental goal-line stop by Arizona.

From the Cardinals’ 1-yard line, Lance bounced to the outside but near the pylon was met short of the end zone by Tanner Vallejo and Isaiah Simmons, the latter of whom was forced out of the game to be evaluated for a concussion. Simmons would later return.

Then, as the Cardinals’ offense sputtered — and lost tight end Maxx Williams and center Rodney Hudson to injury — and San Francisco pulled within 10-7, the defense again stood up in the fourth quarter.

With nine minutes left in the game at midfield, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called for a direct snap to Juszczyk, but Arizona stuffed the fullback sneak to turn San Francisco over on downs for the third time.

The next 49ers possession, with the score static, the Cardinals got the ball back with a tipped ball on 4th-and-4 on a Lance pass at midfield.

Just less than eight minutes remained in the game when Arizona finally capitalized with a touchdown after the fourth failed fourth-down conversion by San Francisco. Simmons on a clean blitz batted the pass attempt to give the ball to Arizona.

The Cardinals went 52 yards on five plays, with a 30-yard freelance toss to DeAndre Hopkins setting up a nine-yard touchdown jump ball to the No. 1 wideout on the next play that made it 17-7, Arizona lead.

San Francisco mustered a quick drive that ended with a field goal before Arizona wound down the clock with its final possession.

Lance was widely held in the passing game, completing 15-of-19 for 192 yards with four batted down passes and the pick. He took 16 carries for 89 yards.

Cardinals defensive linemen Leki Fotu (two) and J.J. Watt, plus Simmons had passes deflected on the day.

On offense, Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray passed for 239 yards on 22-of-31 passing with a touchdown, and Hopkins led Arizona with six catches for 87 yards.

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Cardinals move to 5-0 as defense holds 49ers in big moments