Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald tries for more yardage on a third-quarter catch, but fumbled the ball moments later in the 32-20 loss.
SAN FRANCISCO – Long before the game even started there were tweets from national reporters questioning whether Larry Fitzgerald, now dealing with a hamstring pull in his right leg instead of the left one that was bothering him earlier in the season, would even be able to play Sunday.
Fitzgerald played, and played well. His hamstring held up on the 75-yard short-catch-and-sprint for the Cardinals' first touchdown of the game, and he ended up with a season-high 117 yards on six catches while being targeted 12 times.
But Fitzgerald also lost a fumble in the waning second of the third quarter when the Cardinals
were driving and behind only by two points – and when the 49ers answered with their own touchdown drive, the Cards never recovered before losing, 32-20.
"I wish I could take it back," Fitzgerald said. "Driving, momentum was in our favor and I got a little careless with the football. To be in a game that close, you can't have those kind of mistakes."
Fitzgerald said it was Bruce Arians would made the decision whether Fitzgerald would be active for the game, although Fitzgerald had said last week he did not want to miss a game against a division rival. Now he has to be ready on a short week against Seattle.
"He's a warrior," Arians said. "We had talked. He had a lot of nice blocks (for the run) along the way. He guts it out. He's a pro."
That would have made for a good story, except for the unhappy ending.
"You have the ball in your hands, you are trying to score," Fitzgerald said. "It cost us."
WHILE CAMPBELL GOES ON STRETCHER, FANS DO THE WAVE
Late in the game, defensive end Calais Campbell went down after a play and complained of numbness and tingling in his extremities. The Cardinals' doctors made sure Campbell didn't move any further, and as a precaution, strapped him to a stretcher and wheeled him off.
The Cardinals reported that Campbell was taken to a nearby hospital for a CT scan and an MRI, but initial results were positive.
Unfortunately, during the stoppage in play while Campbell was being tended to, the fans at Candlestick Park inexplicably decided to start "the wave" in the stands. Cardinals players were not happy, but several 49ers players attempted to stop it from the field and afterward, tweeted their dismay.
"To all the fans that did the wave while a player was on the field in pain getting carted off, I was embarrassed for you.," 49ers tackle Joe Staley tweeted. "Very disrespectful"
Tweeted 49ers CEO Jed York, "To say I'm disappointed some fans did the wave this afternoon while @Campbell93 was down is understatement. Hope you get well soon Calais"
UNABLE TO STOP THE DRIVE
While Fitzgerald's fumble killed a scoring chance and running back Alfonso Smith's lost fumble killed off comeback hopes, the Cardinals' defense did allow a stunning 18-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that gave the 49ers a nine-point lead. The drive bled 9:32 off the clock, and featured 12 running plays – including the final eight of the drive.
"As far as manning up against a team trying to physically impose their will, we did a great job early in the game," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "And then the fourth quarter we kind of, I don't know if everyone was believing we could win that game in the fourth."
Said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, "We grinded some meat."
The Cardinals were in the hurry-up offense at the end of the game and Alfonso Smith is the best pass protector, which is why Smith was the one to get the carry on second-and-short when Smith fumbled his lone attempt of the game.
"The play before he picked up the blitzer," Arians said. "He's supposed to hold on to the damn ball."
Smith said he didn't even realize he had fumbled.
"I'm one of those guys who I feel always has the ball high and tight," Smith said. "I thought I had the first down. When I got hit, I didn't even know it was out until I saw it. I thought I still had the ball. It was a freak play. I really can't explain it. I'm going to have to watch film to see how it came out."