From home opening blowouts, to nail-biting shootouts, there is no doubt that the 49ers knows how to lose games.
On Sunday, San Francisco found one more avenue on the road to “L” street, their home address so far this season.
In a divisional showdown against the Arizona Cardinals (2-2) at University of Phoenix Stadium, the 49ers (0-4) were met with the same result as their last three games. This time though, by way of an overtime heartbreaker, losing to the Cardinals 18-15 on a last second touchdown by Larry Fitzgerald.
For the San Francisco, the most disappointing takeaway of the game comes from the fact that the team was unable to find the end zone throughout nearly 70 minutes of gameplay. Instead, they would have to settle for five Robbie Gould field goals (49, 39, 47, 48, 23).
Amassing a total of 305 yards, moving the ball was clearly not the issue for the 49er offense. Instead, the real problem of the afternoon was that of production on third-down. Led by starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, the group was only able to convert on 26 percent of their third-down opportunities (5-of-19).
Partly attributed to poorly thrown balls by Hoyer, much of the offensive deficiencies can be placed on flat-out drops from the 49ers receiving corp. Ranging from rookie wideout Aldrick Robinson, all they way to 10-year veteran Pierre Garçon, the 49ers let more than a few well-thrown balls hit the turf.
Despite its offense being unable to find the end zone for the entirety of the game, the 49ers defense was able to force the Cardinals into the same situation — until the last play of the game, that is.
Relying on their ferocious pass rush, San Francisco got into the Arizona backfield with ease, laying blow after blow on Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer every chance they got. By the end of the game, the 49ers were able to rack up six sacks, their highest total this season.
Notable players who recorded a sack included rookie defensive end Solomon Thomas, who recorded his first in the NFL, and Elvis Dumervil, who recorded both his 100th and 101st.
Even with a stellar pass rush, however, the achilles heel of the 49ers defense continued to be that of a young and hobbled secondary, which Palmer took advantage of whenever he wasn’t being brought down in the pocket.
Without the likes of all-pro safety Eric Reid, San Francisco was forced to place their faith their top cornerback Rashard Robinson who was attacked early and often. And to say that Robinson had a rough day is an understatement.
Assigned to Cardinals speedster Jaron Brown, Robinson gave up 105 yards on eight receptions to the former Clemson Tiger.
As if giving up over 100 yards to a single receiver wasn’t bad enough, Robinson also dropped a pair of interceptions — one early in the first quarter that was subsequently picked off by 49ers linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong and another in the final moments of overtime that fell incomplete after nearly falling to Brown.
Overcoming those obstacles, the 49ers looked to be in position to capture their first win of the season with two-and-a-half minutes left in overtime after Gould’s fifth field goal of the day put them ahead of the Cardinals 15-12.
But as history would have it, the Cardinals marched 75 yards down field to snatch the game from San Francisco’s collective grasp. A 19-yard strike from Palmer to Fitzgerald with 32 seconds remaining in the game would send the 49ers packing with another loss in their back pocket.
Excluding the 23-3 beatdown on opening day, the 49ers have lost their last three games by a combined total of eight points.
The 49ers will now pack up in Arizona and head to Indianapolis to prepare for a Week 5 matchup against the lowly Colts (1-2) who have begun the year without their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts also rank 29th in the league against the pass this year, so if there’s any hope for the 49ers to start finding the endzone through the air, it’ll be against Indianapolis.