On Thursday night, the undefeated 49ers traveled to Arizona to face the talented Cardinals and rookie QB Kyler Murray. What looked like an early blowout turned into a nail biter as the Cardinals made a feverish comeback in the final quarter before ultimately falling short.
The Cardinals opened the game by featuring the newest member of their team, RB Kenyan Drake. Following injuries to RBs David Johnson and Chase Edmonds in recent weeks, the Cardinals traded for Drake, saving him from the tanking Dolphins. Drake took the first play from scrimmage and gained 36 yards and would ultimately finish off that drive with a four-yard touchdown run, his first of the year.
The Niners relied heavily on their running back duo of Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida to answer the opening score before QB Jimmy Garoppolo hit TE George Kittle for a 30-yard score on a punishing catch and run from Kittle. The star tight end had suffered a knee injury earlier in the game but was able to return, though the knee did seem to bother Kittle throughout the night. Garoppolo threw two more touchdown passes in the first half, finding WR Kendrick Bourne and Emmanuel Sanders as San Francisco took a commanding 21-7 halftime lead.
The teams traded touchdown passes (Garoppolo to WR Dante Pettis and Murray to WR KeeSean Johnson) in the third quarter, making the score 28-14 entering the final period. The Cardinals were forced to settle for a field goal early in the fourth but then quickly stopped Garoppolo and got the ball back. Murray found rookie WR Andy Isabella, who sprinted past multiple defenders for his first career touchdown, an 88-yarder. A successful two-point conversion cut the lead to three points with plenty of time left.
The 49ers do what undefeated teams do though, milking the clock and accumulating first downs as their final drive used the remaining 4:14 of game time and Murray never touched the ball again.
Garoppolo finished with 317 passing yards and four scores while Sanders enjoyed a breakout game with his new team, catching seven balls for 112 yards and a score. He’s the clear top receiver in this offense. Kittle added 79 yards on six receptions.
The long touchdown pass to Isabella boosted Murray’s box score as he finished with 241 passing yards, two scores and he added 34 yards on the ground. The story of the game for the Cardinals was Drake, who played one of the best games of his career in his first away from the Dolphins. Drake rushed 15 times for 110 yards and a touchdown, along with 52 receiving yards on four catches. The Cardinals backfield is now very messy with Johnson due back soon. We could be looking at a full-blown three-man committee once Johnson and Edmonds are fully healthy.
Pats Waive Gordon
As expected based on previous reports, the Patriots officially waived WR Josh Gordon, who has been dealing with an injury and was placed on injured reserve last week. Soon after that decision, it was reported that once healthy, Gordon would be sent packing from New England. It is especially puzzling considering the shallow depth chart for the Patriots but both sides will move on. Gordon will be subject to the league’s waiver system, meaning the Dolphins, Bengals and Redskins are the three teams with the first crack at claiming Gordon. The announcement about Gordon’s next team should come later today.
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Trent Williams Update
Early last offseason, reports about LT Trent Williams’ frustration with the Redskins came to light and while the details were unclear, what was obvious was Williams was intent on never playing for this team again. After trade demands and an extended holdout, we are finally learning more about the conflict. Six years ago, a growth on Williams’ head was detected and the team told Williams it was a minor issue. Sometime later, presumably within the past year, Williams learned the growth was cancerous, understandably triggering an ending point with the franchise, at least as far as Williams was concerned. Williams failed his physical after reporting to the team earlier this week and remains intent on never playing for the Redskins again. The team is now requesting the league and player’s association look into Williams’ medical records. This will get even uglier before a resolution is reached.
Earlier this week, following another Broncos loss and some criticism from QB Joe Flacco, the Broncos announced that their veteran starter had suffered a neck injury and would miss significant time. This felt like odd timing but further testing revealed Flacco was dealing with a bulging disc and would miss at least one month. While the injury will not require surgery, Flacco could still land on the injured reserve list and is not guaranteed to reclaim the starting job even when he is healthy.
Jets TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) got in another limited practice and looks to be ready to make his 2019 debut in Week Nine following a suspension and injury that cost him the first half of the season. … Steelers rookie RB Benny Snell (knee) is expected to miss at least two weeks after undergoing surgery. We could see a heavy dose of RB Jaylen Samuels in Week Nine. … Giants WR Sterling Shepard (concussion) practiced in full and is expected to return this week. … Redskins veteran RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) missed another practice, though he is still expected to play against the Bills this week. … After exiting last week’s game with a shoulder injury, it appears as if Eagles rookie RB Miles Sanders will be ready for Week Nine after he returned to practice on Thursday. … Rookie QB Dwayne Haskins is expected to start for the Redskins in Week Nine as veteran QB Case Keenum (concussion) has yet to be cleared. … Eagles WR DeSean Jackson got in a limited practice as he hopes to return after not playing since Week Two. … Titans veteran TE Delanie Walker (ankle) missed another practice and looks to be a long shot to play in Week Nine. It will be another chance for TE Jonnu Smith to claim a larger role moving forward. … Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) remained sidelined and is unlikely to play against the Colts this week…Ravens WR Marquise Brown (ankle) was limited in practice. … Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) did not practice on Thursday, which is a downgrade from earlier in the week. This is not good news for his Sunday availability. … Colts TE Eric Ebron (ankle) missed practice. If he sits out this week, veteran TE Jack Doyle would see a nice usage bump. … WR Amari Cooper (ankle) practiced in full…Browns WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder) was limited in Thursday’s practice but should be good to go against the Broncos. … WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) was limited in practice but is expected to return to the lineup after missing last week’s game. … Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (knee) remained limited in practice. QB Matt Moore is expected to draw another start this week. … The Texans ruled out WR Will Fuller (hamstring) as expected. … Packers WR Davante Adams (toe) practiced in pads for the first time since suffering his turf toe injury in Week Four, though he was limited. It remains unclear if Adams will be able to return to Green Bay’s lineup in Week Nine, though he is certainly trending in the right direction.
DE Michael Bennett, recently traded to the Dallas Cowboys, has agreed to a restricted deal with the team. This will make him a free agent following the season. … Jets RB Le’Veon Bell voiced his frustration with his recent role, which included drawing just 11 touches last week. Bell expects increased usage this week, which would be ideal given the matchup against the Dolphins Defense.