49ers minutia minute: More injuries along the D-line; Jake Moody is PAT king

Last Update :
49ers minutia minute: More injuries along the D-line; Jake Moody is PAT king

The San Francisco 49ers emerged from a game marked by absences along the defensive line with more injuries to defensive linemen. Kalia Davis suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half and will be out a while, Kyle Shanahan said. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell had a regular ankle sprain and is day to day.

Some better news: Nick Bosa didn’t appear on Shanahan’s Monday report after an Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman was thrown onto the back of his left leg Sunday. Shanahan also said that Arik Armstead (foot, ankle) and Javon Hargrave (hamstring) “have a chance” to play this week but that the 49ers will have a better idea when practice resumes Thursday. Neither Christian McCaffrey nor Brock Purdy were part of the day-after report, either. More injury information from the game is found below.

As you might expect when a team has 234 rushing yards, the Cardinals won the time-of-possession battle Sunday by nearly 8 minutes and ran 74 offensive plays versus 56 for the 49ers. Here’s how the individual snaps were divided …

Quarterback: Purdy 46, Sam Darnold 10

Purdy’s streak of games with a completion rate of 70 percent or higher ended Sunday. He was 16-of-25 (64 percent) against the Cardinals. If Brandon Aiyuk hadn’t lost track of a deep ball down the left sideline in the third quarter and if George Kittle had hung onto a pass later in that quarter, Purdy’s completion rate would have been 72 percent.

Purdy’s 135.3 passer rating gives him six games this season with a rating of 130 or higher. Four other quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson — have had six such games in one season. No one has had seven or more.

Shanahan called his best QB-confidence-builder play on Darnold’s first snap. It’s the one in which the quarterback bootlegs in one direction and throws deep in the other. For example, Trey Lance prominently connected with Trent Sherfield on an 80-yard touchdown in his debut in the 2021 preseason.

Darnold’s target, Kittle, was well-covered on Sunday’s attempt, however. His next pass was on target to Kittle, but perhaps arrived with more smoke than Kittle is used to and slipped through the tight end’s grasp.

Running back: McCaffrey 43, Kyle Juszczyk (fullback) 28, Jordan Mason 13, Deebo Samuel 2

McCaffrey scored his 20th touchdown of the season (and seventh against Arizona) in the third quarter, putting him in position to catch Jerry Rice (23) for most touchdowns in a season for the 49ers. Noteworthy: Rice accomplished that in a strike-shortened 1987 season in which he played 12 games.

Remember how left-leaning the running game was last week? It was much more balanced against the Cardinals. Here’s the direction/result of McCaffrey’s 18 carries:

  • Left: Four carries, 26 yards
  • Middle: Eight carries, 44 yards
  • Right: Six carries, 45 yards

Receiver: Aiyuk 46, Samuel 46, Jauan Jennings 23, Ronnie Bell 8, Chris Conley 6

Sunday was the first time this season Aiyuk, Samuel or Kittle didn’t lead the 49ers in receiving yards. The leader was McCaffrey with 72. Aiyuk, in fact, finished with a season-low 37 yards, although the play noted above, plus a first-quarter deep ball that the defender managed — barely — to break up, would have put him on top for the day.

Jennings might have put two more signatures on the receivers’ “knockdown hat” this week. He put Cardinals safety Budda Baker on his backside twice Sunday but also emerged with a concussion. He’ll have an extra day to pass through the league’s concussion protocol.

Tight end: Kittle 48, Charlie Woerner 11, Brayden Willis 6

The defensive play of the game was Charvarius Ward’s 66-yard interception return for a touchdown. The offensive play? It may have been Purdy connecting with Kittle for 35 yards on third-and-11 on the first drive of the second half.

If the 49ers had been stopped there, the Cardinals would have gotten the ball back while trailing by eight points. Instead, Purdy caught the Cardinals on a blitz, hit Kittle and he rumbled for the second-longest play of the day for San Francisco. The longest? It came on the next play when Purdy found McCaffrey all alone for a 41-yard touchdown.

Offensive line: Aaron Banks 56, Jon Feliciano 56, Jake Brendel 54, Colton McKivitz 54, Trent Williams 49, Jaylon Moore 7, Ben Bartch 2, Matt Pryor 2

For the second straight week, Feliciano was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded offensive player for the 49ers. He had a clean sheet — no quarterback pressures — versus the Cardinals. That ought to make things interesting at right guard when Spencer Burford fully recovers from his knee injury. He’s expected to practice this week.

If there had been an injury at guard or center Sunday, Bartch would have filled in at guard. He played the last two kneel-down snaps at right guard; Feliciano moved to center. Offensive line coach Chris Foerster said he had a chat with Bartch’s former position coach, George Warhop, who encouraged Foerster to look at Bartch after the Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Ezra Cleveland and put Bartch on the practice squad. Bartch suffered a season-ending knee injury last season and is still returning to form, Foerster said.

“He’s probably not yet anchoring well enough at guard,” he said. “That’s what concerned me on the Jacksonville tape. But at center he is good. He can play center as well. Those interior three positions, he’s got the quickness, he’s got the length, he’s got some size. And as he gets into our system — we keep working with him — I think he’s a real good fit for our inside three and gives us a chance to add another good quality player inside. I really like the guy.”

Jon Feliciano, celebrating with quarterback Brock Purdy, delivered another solid game on the 49ers’ offensive line. (Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

Defensive line: Bosa 47, Javon Kinlaw 45, Kevin Givens 42, Chase Young 40, Randy Gregory 39, Ferrell 30, T.Y. McGill 29, Davis 13, Robert Beal Jr. 11

One defensive tackle starter, Givens, tied a career-high in snaps while the other, Kinlaw, set a season high in that category. As you’d expect in a game in which the opponent has 234 rushing yards, none of the interior linemen fared well in run defense with Givens (47.2), Davis (44.5), McGill (27.3) and Kinlaw (21.8) graded poorly by PFF in that category.

Some readers have wondered about the defensive end combinations the 49ers have been using. Bosa and Ferrell have started every game this season and they played the most combinations together in Arizona. The three most prevalent were (penalty plays and two-point tries are included):

  • Bosa-Ferrell: 21
  • Bosa-Young: 19
  • Young-Gregory: 15

Beal got his first NFL snaps — including in the preseason — Sunday. In fact, seven rookies played, the most this season. Linebacker Jalen Graham — and Jake Moody, of course — were limited to special teams.

Linebacker: Fred Warner 62, Dre Greenlaw 62, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles 27, Dee Winters 12

Warner did a good job of stopping the Cardinals at the sidelines, but he and the 49ers were plagued by missed tackles. They had 16 altogether, a season high. Warner ranks second in the NFL with 22 missed tackles; Greenlaw is tied for 17th with 15.

Missed tackles Sunday:

Cornerback: Ward 62, Lenoir 56, Ambry Thomas 47, Isaiah Oliver 18, Darrell Luter Jr. 12, Samuel Womack III 12

Lenoir missed a tackle early. But he was sound from that point forth and ended up tying Warner with a game-high nine tackles. Shanahan said Lenoir suffered bruised ribs late in the game and is considered day to day this week.

Ward, meanwhile, was targeted four times, gave up no completions and came away with two interceptions. It’s up for debate whether Sunday’s game or his Week 12 effort against DK Metcalf was his finest performance of the season.

Luter, meanwhile, played the first defensive snaps of his career. He was targeted twice and gave up no catches.

Safety: Ji’Ayir Brown 74, Gipson 62, Logan Ryan 12

Brown had six stops and no missed tackles. But he may have been responsible for tight end Trey McBride’s 38-yard reception on the opening series. Warner seemed to pass McBride off to Brown in coverage, but the rookie went with another receiver instead. Warner’s reaction after the play suggested he wasn’t happy.

Special teams: Willis 25, Woerner 24, Flannigan-Fowles 22, Luter 19, Womack 19, Winters 18, Graham 18, Conley 17, Moody 15, Mason 11, Beal 11, Mitch Wishnowsky 9, Taybor Pepper 9, Ryan 8, Juszczyk 7, McKivitz 7, Moore 7, Feliciano 7, Pryor 7, Banks 6, Bartch 7, Samuel 6, Warner 5, Brown 5, Givens 5, Gregory 5, Ferrell 5, Oliver 4, Thomas 4, Lenoir 4, McGill 4, Gipson 4, Jennings 3, Bell 3, Davis 2, Kittle 1, Aiyuk 1, Greenlaw 1

This is from the Associated Press’ Josh Dubow (who also happens to be a Michigan alum like Moody): The 49ers’ rookie kicker is 53 for 53 on PATs this season. Since the kick was moved to the 15-yard line in 2015, the record for most made PATs in a season without a miss had been 52 by Stephen Gostkowski for the New England Patriots in 2015.

With so many new faces on kickoff coverage, the 49ers didn’t attempt any short kicks. Every one of Moody’s eight kickoffs went for a touchback. … Womack and Luter served as the team’s gunners. … Moody’s 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter was his first field goal attempt since Nov. 23.

(Top photo of Jake Moody: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

“The Football 100,” the definitive ranking of the NFL’s best 100 players of all time, is on sale now. Order it here.