MEXICO CITY (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers took an extra step of training at altitude in Colorado for a few days before coming to Mexico City, hoping the move would allow them to thrive at Estadio Azteca, which sits some 7,200 feet above them. sea level.
The Arizona Cardinal didn’t think it was necessary.
In the football ideas market, it’s safe to say that the 49ers won this feud by a landslide.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw four touchdowns, including two each to Brandon Ayuk and George Keitel, and the 49ers grew stronger as the game progressed, defeating the Cardinals 38-10 Monday Night.
Niners defensive end Joey Bosa said there was no doubt coaching the team in Colorado was an exciting time.
“(Owner) John Yorke got the ball of the game,” Niners’ Joe Bosa said. “For him to put us in this situation and spend the money you would have to spend to do something like that, that’s why Niners is such a winning franchise.”
Bossa said the Colorado experience didn’t completely solve the altitude problems, but it did allow the team to understand what to expect. Estadio Azteca is nearly 2,000 feet taller than any other NFL stadium.
“It was brutal,” Bossa added. “Three reps full speed and you’re hurting. He’s getting better throughout the game and I think we did a good job sticking with him.”
Cardinals coach Cliff Kingsbury didn’t think the altitude had affected his team.
“I didn’t,” Kingsbury said. “Everyone was tired. I think both teams you could see were sluggish at times but it wasn’t anything that I felt was a game-changer.”
There was no indication that the Cardinals decided to stay in Tempe, Arizona, this week for their practices due to financial problems. Instead, Kingsbury believed that the strength of the team and its well-conditioned staff had developed a good plan for its players, and that a few extra days at home would pay off.
The game was tight at halftime with the 49ers pushing to a 17-10 halftime lead after Robbie Gould’s 39-yard field goal. But the game changed in the first round of the second half.
The Niners put together a punishing eight-play drive that included seven consecutive plays, capped by Deebo Samuel’s 39-yard end-around that resulted in a touchdown. The quick Samuels ripped in and out of the Cardinals’ defense, evading attackers with ease.
Arizona’s offense could not respond, and was shut out in the second half.
“I didn’t think the Niners screwed me up once tonight,” McCoy said. “I knew what they were doing. They showed me a lot of different looks. And that’s the problem. I feel good about it, but we didn’t make enough plays.”
McCoy was forced to work out a second week in a row because starting quarterback Kyler Murray was still suffering from a sore hamstring. The 36-year-old finished 24 of 34 passes for 218 yards and 1 interception.
But it wasn’t the only problem. The Cardinals defense has been strong for most of the season, but couldn’t stop the Niners, especially in the second half. Kettle’s second touchdown came after a short catch, and then the big tight end rammed down the field for a 32-yard score, getting past the Arizona defense.
Whether it was tired players or poor play, the Cardinals clearly didn’t have a great night in Mexico City. Now they sit with a 4-7 record in the bottom of the NFC West. Making the playoffs is a huge long throw.
“We have to get rid of him,” said Kingsbury. “We had a short week with the Chargers coming in. That’s what we talked about. We know we have to play better. You have to get better in a short time. Lots of mental preparation in Sunday’s game before the bye. So we have to find a way to get it right.”
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