NFL Wire News

49ers-Cardinals: What we learned

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Frank Gore made sure that San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh went out with a victory Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

The running back gained 144 yards on 25 carries, leading San Francisco to a 20-17 victory against the Arizona Cardinals.

After the game, the 49ers issued a statement saying that Harbaugh and the team mutually agreed to part ways.

Gore cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the eighth time in his career, and he became just the 20th player in NFL history to rush for at least 11,000 yards.

“I just wanted to finish it right for him,” said Gore, who is in the final year of his contract. “I also wanted to finish it right for my fans, since I’ve been here since I was 21. If I’m not here (next season), I wanted to show my fans the way a 49er is supposed to play.”

According to multiple reports, Harbaugh is expected to accept a six-year, $48 million deal to become the coach at his alma mater, the University of Michigan.

“It’s been the time of my life,” said Harbaugh, who went 49-22-1 in four seasons with the 49ers. “Obviously, I’ve said all along you work at the pleasure of the organization. It’s been a tremendous four years.”

The 49ers (8-8) snapped a four-game losing streak.

Arizona (11-5) clinched an NFC wild card playoff berth earlier this month but entered the game with hopes of winning the NFC West and earning a first-round bye. The Cardinals needed to beat the 49ers and have Seattle lose to St. Louis. However, the Seahawks beat the Rams minutes before the Cardinals fell to San Francisco.

The Cardinals will open the playoffs on the road against the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers (7-8-1).

What the 49ers said:

“Forty-nine wins in four years. This year, we dealt with a lot of stuff and it was a down year, but three straight NFC Championship games. That is what he should be remembered for.” — OT Joe Staley, on Jim Harbaugh, who coached his final game for the 49ers.

What the Cardinals said:

“There are things that I’m probably going to look back at and be really happy with. I felt the most comfortable I’ve felt out on the field probably since I’ve been in the NFL. But there’s still a handful of plays that kill you. That’s what the NFL’s about, playing consistently. If those five or six players are on a third down or on a crucial drive, then it’s a turnover. It kills you.” — QB Ryan Lindley.

What we learned about the 49ers:

1. They need to sign running back Frank Gore to a contract extension before he hits free agency. Gore may be 31, but he’s still got plenty of life in his legs. He rushed for 144 on 25 carries Sunday against Arizona, cracking the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth time in his career. He became the 20th running back in NFL history to rush for over 11,000 yards in his career. “I still love the game and I still can play,” Gore said. “I feel great. I want to play again. I want to play next year.”

2. Parting ways with coach Jim Harbaugh might make life more comfortable for CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke, but it will be hard to find a coach who can match Harbaugh’s success on the field. The 49ers won 49 games in four seasons under Harbaugh. They went to three straight NFC title games and made one trip to the Super Bowl before finishing 8-8 this year.

–RB Frank Gore carried 25 times for 144 yards Sunday against Arizona and cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the eighth time in his career. He also became the 20th player in NFL history to rush for more than 11,000 yards in a career. Gore finished the season with 1,106 rushing yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry.

–WR Anquan Boldin caught two passes for 81 yards and a 76-yard touchdown Sunday against Arizona and cracked the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the seventh time in his 12-season career. Boldin finished with 83 catches for 1,062 yards and five touchdowns, leading the 49ers in all three categories this season, his second with San Francisco.

–ILB Michael Wilhoite made his second interception of the season Sunday, picking off a pass from Arizona QB Ryan Lindley in the second quarter, setting up a field goal. Wilhoite led the 49ers in tackles with nine, six of them solo.

What we learned about the Cardinals:

1. Quarterback Ryan Lindley has made big enough strides to make them a tough out in the playoffs. Lindley completed 23 of 39 passes for a career-high 316 yards and his first two NFL touchdowns Sunday in a 20-17 loss to San Francisco. Lindley, however, was intercepted three times, and will need to cut down on those killer mistakes if he starts Saturday against Carolina. “You’re definitely not happy after a loss, but at the same time there are things you can hang your hat on, myself included,” Lindley said.

2. The Cardinals need to shore up their run defense in a hurry. Two weeks ago, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Russell Wilson carried six times for 88 yards and a touchdown against Arizona. On Sunday, 49ers running back Frank Gore carried 25 times for 144 yards, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran seven times for 63 yards against the Cardinals. The Panthers may not have a Lynch or Gore, but quarterback Cam Newton is a big running threat. He carried six times for 51 yards and a touchdown Sunday in Carolina’s victory against Atlanta.

–QB Ryan Lindley completed 23 of 39 passes for a career-high 316 yards and his first two NFL touchdowns Sunday in a 20-17 loss to San Francisco. Lindley was also picked off three times and had a passer rating of 70.0. Lindley threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to WR Michael Floyd early in the first quarter on a flea flicker. Lindley’s first NFL touchdown throw came on his 229th career pass. In the third quarter he hit Floyd on a 41-yard scoring strike.

–WR Michael Floyd caught eight passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns Sunday in a 20-17 loss to San Francisco. Floyd finished the season with 47 catches for a team-high 841 yards and six touchdowns, another team best.

–ILB Glenn Carson, an undrafted rookie from Penn State, started Sunday against San Francisco for injured ILB Larry Foote (knee) and made a team-high nine tackles, six of them solo. The start was Carson’s first in the NFL. He had 11 tackles in five career games before facing San Francisco.


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