CARDINALS

Report Card: Did the Arizona Cardinals do anything well in loss to San Francisco 49ers?

In must-have game, the Cardinals failed in Mexico City and their season now looks completely lost.

Bob McManaman
Arizona Republic

Arizona Cardinals insider Bob McManaman hands out his position-by-position grades for the Cardinals following their game Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers:

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy (12) throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the first half at Estadio Azteca on Nov. 21, 2022.

Passing offense: D

Colt McCoy made his second consecutive start in place of Kyler Murray, still nursing a strained hamstring, but it went nothing like last week against the Rams. Sure, there were some positives, like Greg Dortch getting untracked (nine receptions, 103 yards), DeAndre Hopkins continuing his own dominance (nine receptions, 91 yards), but there wasn’t nearly enough consistency overall from this unit. McCoy was sacked three times, intercepted once, and the passing game never got into a good enough flow against one of the most physical and aggressive defenses in the league.

Rewind: Cardinals embarrassed by 49ers in Mexico City

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) scores a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Nov. 21, 2022.

Rushing offense: D

Arizona couldn’t get anything going here against San Francisco’s dominant front and even on the rare occasions when it happened, it didn’t alter the game. The Cardinals’ longest run of the day was 14 yards by James Conner, who did rush for another touchdown, but only ran for 42 yards on 14 carries (3.0 yards per run). For this offense to be successful, especially with McCoy running a more conservative game plan, Conner needs to be much more involved. Backup Keaontay Ingram, the rookie, didn’t get enough looks, either. He had five carries for just 19 yards.

Read more:In loss, Arizona Cardinals find way to appreciate Estadio Azteca atmosphere

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates after his touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Nov. 21, 2022.

Pass defense: D-

Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t pressured nearly enough and it cost the Cardinals. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph raised some eyebrows weeks ago when he said he doesn’t care about sacks. Well, he could have used a bucket of them Monday night. His defenders didn’t sack Garoppolo once, and only registered four hits against him, and that’s not how you beat this guy. You rattle him and he makes mistakes. Instead, he passed for four touchdowns (20 of 29 for 228 yards) – two each to tight end Georgie Kittle and receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Running back Christian McCaffrey (seven catches, 67 yards) was also a beast. Arizona’s defenders couldn’t tackle nearly well enough and got blocked out of plays far too many times.

Analysis: Cardinals didn't just lose to 49ers in Mexico City, they looked bad doing it

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Rush defense: D

In the first half, this area didn’t cost the Cardinals much, save for a career-high, 39-yard touchdown run on a reverse by wideout Deebo Samuel. Once again, defenders got blocked out of plays to stop it. But the 49ers didn’t really start pounding the ball until the second half and that’s where they killed the Cardinals. They finished with 159 rushing yards overall and the balance of coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense was brilliant.

Special teams: C

Nothing happened anywhere of consequence, which is a shame, really. With the high elevation, it would have been nice to at least see one of the kickers get a shot at a super long field goal attempt but it didn’t happen. Too bad.

Somers: It's not official, but the Arizona Cardinals' season is over

Coaching: D

This is more of a grade on where the Cardinals are now as opposed to how they were coached on Monday night in a must-have game to keep their playoff hopes alive. It didn’t need to come down to this and things should have been so much better across the board, even with all the injuries and madness. The fact that the Cardinals didn’t match the 49ers’ intensity and execution, though, was inexcusable for such a big game. I’ll be curious to see how many players keep giving it their all from here on out, knowing now that the season is basically over.