Opening with a Loss: Niners Fall to Cards 23-13

Unlike the 2007 season, the 49ers will not rein in the new season with a win. The 49ers lost 23-13 to the Cardinals on Sunday in a game which featured five Niners turnovers.

A Zak Keasey fumble on the Niners’ four-yard line four minutes into the game and a J.T. O’Sullivan intercepton at midfield towards the end of the first quarter stalled Niners drives and reminded fans of the peaks and valleys the Niners offense will travel through this season.

There were some highlights for the Niners offense, though. Frank Gore rushed for 96 yards on 14 carries, although a pessimist would point out that 41 of those yards came on one carry. The long touchdown scamper was easily the highlight of the day, but Gore did have five other runs between five and nine yards.

O’Sullivan was an efficient 14-for-20 for 195 yards, although the one interception – and two lost fumbles – run counter to a preseason pledge: protect the ball.

Takeo Spikes muffed a kick return – yes, that Takeo Spikes – as the Niners slippery hands fumbled away the ball four times in the game.

Attempting to look for some other bright spots in the game aside from the Gore touchdown scamper? The Niners committed just three penalties and the defense did step up, allowing just 2.8 yards per rush. Of course, take away Kurt Warner 5 “rushes” for -4 yards, and Arizona carried the ball 34 times for 113 yards, a 3.3 clip. That’s still good run defense from a team which will have to face Edgerrin James once more as well as Steven Jackson twice.

Parys Haralson showed some playmaking ability on defense with 2.5 sacks and Jeff Smith added seven tackles and half a sack. Michael Lewis tied Smith with a team-high seven tackles.

There was some ominous news before the game as Alex Smith will re-visit Dr. James Andrews in his Birmingham, Ala. office to re-valuate Smith’s ailing right shoulder. It doesn’t sound like a good situation and it only re-iterates the need for O’Sullivan, along with backup Shaun Hill, to quickly help improve the Niners offense. It looks as though O’Sullivan’s starting spot could be safe, unless he continues to turn over the ball to his opponent.

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