ReFo: Cardinals @ 49ers, Week 17
More story lines than space to write about them for this game, but the bottom line of it all was the scoreboard-watching Cardinals didn’t get that 12th win they needed for a shot at home field while the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh can now part ways with one last victory to smile about. On the back of a pounding running game and some timely takeaways, San Francisco’s disbanding bunch gave the Lindley-led Cardinals just a bit more than they could overcome.
Arizona Cardinals – Performances of Note
Michael Floyd: +3.3
Breakdown: Floyd’s strong final month continued as he posted his top grade of the season in the finale. His eight catches, 153 yards and two scores all came on 11 targets against the 49ers’ starting CB duo and he wasn’t left with much work to do after the catch as the huge majority of his yards came through the air (137 of his 153).
Signature Play: 2Q 0:42, Floyd’s second score, just before the half, was a twisting effort that saw him sail over the pylon and get fingertips down in the end zone.
Ryan Lindley: -1.0
Breakdown: With Arizona’s hopes for a win and a shot at the division crown largely on his shoulders, Lindley found his way to a number of good throws and racked up over 300 yards and his first two touchdown passes of the season. In the process, though, he also managed to tack on three interceptions. While one of those picks was on a clear miscommunication with his receiver, there were two additional that could have been hauled in by the defense that didn’t end up on his book.
Signature Play: 4Q 1:38, backed up and trailing by a field goal in the final minutes, Lindley’s chance for a game-tying drive ended before it ever got going as he tossed a ball into coverage for a pick to seal the game.
Calais Campbell: +4.5
Breakdown: Whether putting the finishing touch on another outstanding regular season or revving up for the playoffs, Campbell’s force was on full display in this one with a good share of his best work done against the 49ers’ Pro Bowlers on the left. Campbell’s five run stops this week topped all 3-4 DEs and his season Run Stop Percentage of 12.0% was the best at the position.
Signature Play: 4Q 2:57, with the 49ers grinding down the clock late in the game, Campbell catches Gore improvising away from the intended gap and makes short work of Marcus Martin on his way to the tackle for no gain.
San Francisco 49ers – Performances of Note
Michael Wilhoite: +4.7
Breakdown: As San Francisco linebacker shave dropped like flies, Wilhoite has remained in place all season. His 70 snaps in this game sent him over 1,000 for the year, far surpassing the 179 that was his previous high and he put up his best game grade of 2014, built mostly by what he showed in coverage. Allowing four of five passes his way to be completed, Wilhoite limited them to just 17 total yards and just 7 after the catch while picking off the fifth.
Signature Play: 2Q 9:11, his interception came from a clean break on a backfield out route as Lindley tried to jam the ball into a spot that Wilhoite made sure wasn’t there.
Colin Kaepernick: +5.2
Breakdown: In a season of fewer peaks than valleys, Kaepernick saw his coach off on a high note by flashing some of his strengths. Four scrambles netted 66 yards and on three separate occasions he managed to escape would-be sacks. The best of what he can be as a thrower also showed as he mixed in some touch among his patented bullets.
Signature Play: 2Q 7:46, rolling to his right, Kaepernick sets up and fires back across and deep down field, putting the ball on Quinton Patton in a hurry for a 35-yard gain.
Frank Gore: +2.0
Breakdown: If this was to be Gore’s final game as a 49er, he used it well to stir memories of his best years in the uniform. Cutting and driving for that extra bit on each carry, Gore churned out 77 of his 144 yards after contact and saved some of his most impressive runs for San Francisco’s last two drives, helping them eat clock and ride their three-point lead.
Signature Play: 4Q 9:39, slipping out of a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, Gore drove outside past a pair of other defenders before adding a final cut to cap the 12-yard run and pick up a first down.
PFF Game Ball
In what might well be the end of this run for the 49ers, it’s fitting that one of their foundation pieces stood out and Frank Gore takes home the game ball.
Follow Rick on Twitter