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49ers derail Cardinals playoff push

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The Cardinals (8-7) no longer control their own fate in the NFC playoff race. If the Chicago Bears (7-7) win their last two games, they will advance to the playoffs due to a draw with Arizona

Last updated: 12/27/20 3:05 am

George Kittle and Jeff Wilson celebrate his touchdown when the 49ers took a Shock Road win in Arizona

Third string quarterback C.J. Beathard, threw three touchdown passes and Jeff Wilson ran 183 yards as the San Francisco 49ers bashed the Arizona Cardinals' playoff hopes with a 20-12 win on Saturday.

Beathard made his first start since 2018 and previously held a 1-9 record as a starting QB in the NFL, but the 27-year-old was efficient, if not spectacular, making 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards and those doing three TDs .

  • 49ers by: C. J. Beathard, 13/22, 182 yards, 3 TDs
  • Urgent leader: Jeff Wilson Jr., 22 porters, 183 yards
  • Receiving leader: George Kittle, four catches, 92 yards

It was Wilson who earned the hard yards for the 49ers on the ground, while the San Francisco defense limited the league's third-placed offensive to just 12 points.

The 49ers, who were only one point ahead, had two key defensive stops late in the fourth quarter, including an endzone interception of Kyler Murray by Ahkello Witherspoon.

The Cardinals (8-7) no longer control their own fate in the playoff race. If the Chicago Bears (7-7) win their last two games, they will advance to the playoffs due to a draw with the Cardinals.

  • Cardinals passing: Kyler Murray, 31/50, 247 yards, 1 INT
  • Urgent leader: Kyler Murray, eight porters, 75 yards
  • Receiving leader: Christian Kirk, seven catches, 76 yards

Arizona started the day as the No. 7 and final team on the NFC playoff field, but the game was a struggle from the start.

The Cardinals had a promising opening run but got stuck in the Redzone and settled for a 3-0 lead after a 27-yard field goal from Mike Nugent. It was a common theme for Arizona that kept the ball moving in spurts but couldn't hit big enough games on the field.

San Francisco took a 7-3 lead with a 21-yard pass from Beathard to Wilson late in the first quarter and had a 7-6 lead at halftime after Nugent shot through a second FG for Arizona.

The 49ers took a 14-6 lead in the third quarter with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Beathard to Kyle Juszczyk, the first of two touchdown receptions from the full-back.

Arizona scored their only touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Kenyan Drake hopped on a pile and stretched his arm just over the goal line for a one-yard score. Murray failed to bond with DeAndre Hopkins on the two-point switch and so the 49ers had a 14-12 lead.

The Cardinals' next offensive drive stalled at their own 35-yard line as they moved into fourth and second places. Another attempt from Murray to Hopkins was incomplete and the 49ers took over the downs.

A few games later, Juszczyk got his second TD out of the game on a one-yard throw from Beathard, and there were eight and a half minutes left.

After the touchdown, San Francisco's Robbie Gould missed on an extra point attempt and held it at 20-12 for a one-ball game. He also missed a 37-yard field goal attempt by a minute – his third failure of the day – but the 49ers overcame those mistakes and held on to victory.

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Steven Gregory