SF-ARI grades: Receivers come up big in Cardinals win

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from Arizona’s 23-20 victory over division rival San Francisco.

| 7 months ago
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SF-ARI grades: Receivers come up big in Cardinals win

Arizona Cardinals 23, San Francisco 49ers 20

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Arizona’s victory over division rival San Francisco.

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback grade: Carson Palmer, 77.5

Palmer finds success spreading the ball around the field

Carson Palmer did a nice job not spending too much time focusing on one level of the field. Palmer attempted 26 passes that traveled fewer than 10 yards in the air while also throwing 23 passes that traveled beyond 10 yards in the air. Palmer completed 12 of those intermediate-to-deep level passes for 242 passing yards. Both of his picks were on throws that traveled at least 10 yards.

Top offensive grades 

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 82.8
WR Michael Floyd, 79.7
G Earl Watford, 72.5
C A.Q. Shipley, 70.1
HB David A. Johnson, 66.0 

Receivers lead the way for Cardinals’ offense

Larry Fitzgerald is simply ageless. Carson Palmer’s go-to receiver hauled in 12 of a team-high 18 targets for 133 yards against San Francisco with six of those catches resulting in a first down. Opposite him, Michael Floyd caught five of six targets with an average of 20.2 yards per catch — Palmer had a 118.8 QB rating when targeting Floyd. Johnson was stifled on the ground to the tune of just 2.9 yards per carry but was able to still find a way to contribute by hauling in five of seven targets for 46 yards and a touchdown. Up front on the offensive line, Watford and Shipley combined to allow just two total pressures on the day (both hurries surrendered by Watford).

Top defensive grades

 CB Patrick Peterson, 83.7
LB Deone Bucannon, 82.8
S D.J. Swearinger, 81.1
ED Markus Golden, 79.7
S Tony Jefferson, 76.0 

Markus Golden leads Cardinals pass rush 

Markus Golden led the Cardinals defense with a 79.8 pass rushing grade after applying pressure to Colin Kaepernick five times (including two hits) on 27 pass rush attempts. Deone Bucannon was excellent against the run, finishing with a team-high 85.3 grade in run defense. On the back end Patrick Peterson allowed just one catch for five yards on only two targets, while Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger combined to tally four stops from the safety positions.San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback grade: Colin Kaepernick, 61.0

Kaepernick struggles under pressure vs Cardinals

When given a clean pocket, Colin Kaepernick had a pretty solid day throwing the football, completing 15 of 23 attempts for 169 yards and a touchdown, giving him a 101.5 QB rating. However, when pressured he fell apart, completing just two of seven attempts (while also getting sacked three times) for 24 yards and a 41.4 QB rating. Kaepernick was also able to do some positive things with his legs in this one, gaining 39 yards on QB scrambles (along with a touchdown) while also picking up 12 yards on two designed option runs as well.


Top offensive grades

WR Jeremy Kerley, 80.5
T Joe Staley, 79.8
G Joshua Garnett, 79.4
TE Vance McDonald, 73.9
WR Quinton Patton, 70.5

Joshua Garnett with his highest graded game of the season 

Coming into Sunday’s game, Joshua Garnett had allowed 14 total pressures in pass protection on 144 career pass blocking snaps, a rate of one pressure every 10.3 snaps. On Sunday he allowed just one total pressure on 41 pass-blocking snaps. Sunday was also the first game he started in which he did not allow either a hit or a sack on his QB. Garnett also lead the 49ers offensive line with an 81.3 run blocking grade — an area which he’s excelled in so far through four career starts. After putting up a 43.3 run blocking grade in his first ever start back on Week 6, he’s followed it up with run blocking grades of 86.2, 74.9 and now 81.3 in the three weeks since. Jeremy Kerley led the offense in terms of overall grade after hauling in seven of seven targets for 54 yards and a touchdown. Colin Kaepernick had a 138.4 QB rating when targeting Kerley and five of his seven catches resulted in either a first down or touchdown.

Top defensive grades

LB Gerald Hodges, 93.2
CB Keith Reaser, 89.7
DI DeForest Buckner, 85.9
ED Ahmad Brooks, 84.4
DI Quinton Dial, 83.1

DeForest Buckner breaks out in loss

Coming off of his worst game of the season, in what has been a relatively disappointing rookie season up to this point, DeForest Buckner put on a show in Week 10. Buckner had seven total pressures on Carson Palmer – including a sack – on 55 pass-rush attempts this weekend giving him an average of one pressure every 7.9 pass rushes; prior to this weekend he was averaging just one pressure on every 13.1 pass rushes. Gerald Hodges provided the defense with three defensive stops while also putting up a team-high 93.1 grade in run defense; while Brooks and Dial also had big games in run defense, finishing with grades of 92.3 and 87.7, respectively. On the back end, Keith Reaser allowed just three catches on five targets for a total of 41 yards, with both of his incompletions coming on pass breakups.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Larry Fitzgerald

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • 49ers fan24

    A good percentage of the 49ers higher draft picks are turning out ok the last two drafts which is unusual for Baalke.

    I think Garnett will be good even though I had questions at first.

  • Jcool

    “in what has been a relatively disappointing rookie season up to this point”

    You had him in your top 10 rookies until he got hurt and wasn’t as effective. Not sure how you can say he was having a disappointing rookie season. Unless you think one bad week ruins your season?

    • Amos McCannell

      He had a bad game against the Saints and everybody ready to say he’s a bust. Lol. Watch the tape from yesterday and he looked dominant!

  • crosseyedlemon

    Another game ball for Larry Fitzgerald who almost always gets ignored by PFF when they construct their awards and best of lists. Maybe after he is inducted into the HOF they will look back and acknowledge that he wasn’t half bad.

  • Samuel Mazzini

    Incremental gains,this team has talent ,despite the fan and media perception to the contrary.These past two games have shown that the Niners are finally playing with some cohesiveness on both sides of the ball ,I’m looking forward to another strong showing against the Pats.Believe it or not the Niners are beginning a slow ascent towards mediocrity.

    • Amos McCannell

      I hope you are right. I do see ALOT of improvement on both sides of the ball. Dorsey is eating up blockers playing the nose. That’s really helped Buckner and Dial a lot. Can we finally see Reaser/Robinson more then Brock? I just don’t care for Brock.

      Good to see Garnett stringing some solid performances together and improving every week. He brings a nice punch to his game. Wish Trent Brown could show some consistency. Staley always consistent. Could use an upgrade over Beadles. Campbell dominated him!

      I think Kelly’s offense is coming together a little bit.. if we could just get more from the running game.

      • Samuel Mazzini

        Couldn’t agree more,spot on with your observations,Niners trending with a very slight tilt upward.

  • MosesZD

    What’s not said by the analyst is that Kaepernick continues to struggle throwing the ball past 10-yards. For the season he’s completed 10 of 29 in the 11-to-20 range and 11 of 31 in the 10+ category.

    Even his 1-10 splits are poor with a completion percentage around 55%, which is abysmal for an NFL QB. Even Gabbert, who played himself out of the job by being an inaccurate-turnover machine has a 67% completion rate in that zone.

    The sad state of QBing on the 49ers roster is that the only upside we’ve honestly seen is that Kaepernick is at least not turning the ball over. So there’s something. But it’s a pretty weak something when your QB can’t complete the ball at an NFL level once he throws it past the LOS.