Through three weeks of the NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals’ defense was the strength of the team. It was playing above its talent level. They were getting hands on passes, getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, taking the ball away and slowing teams in the red zone.
In Week 4 against the San Francisco 49ers, they were simply overmatched. San Francisco’s offensive talent was too much.
The defense did none of what they had been doing well.
Get hands on balls in the passing games? After 23 pass breakups in three games they didn’t get their hand on a single pass on Sunday.
Pressure quarterbacks? They had only one sack on Sunday and no other quarterback hits.
Take the ball away? For the first time this season, the defense did not get a take away.
Stop teams in the red zone? The 49ers scored five touchdowns in five trips inside the 20.
The 49ers only punted once. They only had five third downs, converting three of them.
Brock Purdy had only one incompletion, completing 20-of-21 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown. He completed passes to eight different players.
Running back Christian McCaffrey scored four touchdowns, rushing for 106 yards on 5.6 yards per carry, and catching seven passes for 71 yards.
Receiver Brandon Aiyuk caught six passes for 148 yards.
Arizona could not do anything right defensively.
The 49ers are a special team. They have elite talent at every skill position and a quarterback who simply doesn’t make mistakes.
Arizona’s defense has been scrappy and tough. When they face overwhelming talent while shorthanded (they were missing safety Budda Baker, linebackers Josh Woods and Krys Barnes and defensive linemen Carlos Watkins, L.J. Collier and Jonathan Ledbetter), it won’t matter how hard they play. They will look bad.