There will be a time for talking in depth about the problems the Cardinals had Sunday, whether it be the struggles to get off the field on long 49ers drives or an offense that couldn’t get drives of its own. There will be time to talk about Josh Rosen’s first real hiccups as he couldn’t find his range enough, or the gaps in the run defense.
But at 0-4 – a start this franchise hadn’t had since moving to Arizona – getting the first win is important. It doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t mask some real issues. But it was worth being the big topic of Sunday night for the players and coaches. Analyzing the issues will come soon enough, but a plane trip home is about enjoying the win. The Cards aren’t even last in the division, now that they have a tiebreaker on the 49ers.
-- Haason Reddick was this week’s Deone Bucannon – a week after Bucannon started on defense after not playing, Reddick was the one put into the lineup alongside Josh Bynes. And the two combined on the biggest play of the fourth quarter, where Reddick led a jailbreak going after Niners QB C.J. Beathard and knocked the ball loose, and Bynes picked it up and scored.
“My number was called and I did what I was supposed to do,” Reddick said.
That’s the playmaker the Cardinals hope Reddick can be. He had eight tackles, two passes defensed, a tackle for loss and the sack. I’m guessing there were still times he wasn’t on point, but to get the 2017 first-round pick to be impactful – that’d be nice. We will see if this is a one-off like Bucannon’s start, and what exactly the Cards have planned for Minnesota.
-- Bucannon, I do not think, played a defensive snap, although I will have to check tomorrow.
-- One of the biggest takeaways from Sunday was just how big takeaways are. The turnovers changed everything (because, frankly, being a plus-five really should result in much bigger than a 10-point win.) Those are the things the Cards knew they would need coming into this season.
Now, if teams continue to run on the Cards like this, there are going to be fewer chances to create them. But for the day, they made Beathard’s life pretty miserable.
-- Chandler Jones was playing fine, but he really shined Sunday. He finished with another sack (that’s four) on his forced fumble (that he fell on), a couple tackles-for-loss, a pass defensed and a couple of quarterback hits. Jones’ pass knockdown on the two-point conversion was huge in the fourth quarter
-- There were actually a lot of defenders will numbers. Budda Baker had 15 tackles and a sack. That’s what happens when there are 92 plays.
-- Last week, defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said knowingly that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan knew he and Steve Wilks enough that their defense plays “downhill” and that the 49ers would try to take advantage. Then, the 49ers did just that on their opening drive, burning the aggressive Cards with three long screen plays, and another long screen late in the game to set up what could’ve been the game-tying touchdown.
-- Josh Rosen was not the same guy this week, with his errant throws, but again, he said all along he didn’t care about how he did if the Cardinals won. So we saw that Sunday. Still, it’s easy to have high hopes for Rosen – especially after that textbook bomb to Christian Kirk.
-- Can’t have drops though. Some key ones again – Kirk, Chad Williams, Chase Edmonds. Some will happen, but again, it’s clear with this offense, the margin for error isn’t big enough to sustain many – if any.
-- The case can be made for Andy Lee to get some team MVP votes. Of his eight punts, five were downed inside the 20, pinning the 49ers on long fields – which was necessary, given that the 49ers were able to gain plenty of yards but few points.
-- Another road trip next week. The Vikings are … not the 49ers. We’ll see what the Cardinals can get right.