On the strength of three Phil Dawson field goals of 27, 56 and a 40-yard-game-winner set up by a 29-yard strike to rookie Quinton Patton, the San Francisco 49ers (12-4) vanquished their division rival Arizona Cardinals (10-6), 23-20. With the win, the Niners locked up the 5th seed in the NFC, and Dawson, who has been one of the primary offensive weapons for the red and gold, has reminded fans of the way David Akers played during the 2011-12 season.
The offense jumped out to an early lead largely thanks to their special teams and defense. The Niners were constantly in Cardinals territory in the first half and were able to gain a 17-0 advantage thanks to a Dawson field goal and two Colin Kaepernick touchdown passes to Anquan Boldin for four yards and Vernon Davis from seven yards out.
The rushing attack was anemic all afternoon. Frank Gore was limited to just 14 yards on 13 carries, and the 49ers longest carry of the game was a reverse to Patton for 26 yards. Patton’s one run would be the most rushing yards for any 49er all afternoon.
In addition to the rushing struggles, San Francisco only scored six points after the first quarter, both Dawson field goals in the final 1:45. While Kaepernick added 24 yards of his own on the ground, he did most of his damage through the air.
Kap had another solid outing throwing 21-34 for 310 yards and 2 touchdowns. This was also the fifth time in six games that the 49ers signal caller has recorded a passer rating of at least 108.0. While CK7 found both Davis and Michael Crabree three times apiece, it was another wideout who carried the load today.
Anquan Boldin turned in a magnificent performance in his return to Arizona for the first time since being traded in 2009. Boldin was torching Arizona’s corners all day, including the terrific Patrick Peterson, racking up nine catches for 149 yards and the aforementioned score.
On the defensive side of the ball, nobody shined brighter than NaVarro Bowman. Coming off “The Pick” at the ‘Stick last Monday night against Atlanta (4-12) Bowman showed why he earned another Pro Bowl selection this season. He was all over the field, making 10 tackles (1 for loss), a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. In fact, NaVarro became the first player since 2009 to record a pick, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the same game.
With Seattle (13-3) knocking off St. Louis (7-9), the Niners will travel to Green Bay (8-7-1) to try and accomplish what they did last season, beat the Packers twice. With a returning Aaron Rodgers, the Pack won a tight one in Chicago to clinch their playoff berth and the NFC North. However, San Francisco enters this game with three straight victories over “Mr. Discount Double Check.”
The 49ers have won six in a row entering Sunday afternoon’s contest, their second consecutive win streak of five or more this season. Under Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers have never lost more than 4 games in the regular season and have earned an outstanding record of 36-11-1.
Keep it locked all week to 49ers360.com as we get you ready for the playoff game this Sunday.