SANTA CLARA (AP) — The stat sheet couldn’t have been more lopsided. The San Francisco 49ers had decided edges in yards, first downs, time of possession and just about every other statistical category except one and ended on the losing end against Arizona.
That’s what committing five turnovers and getting no takeaways will do.
C.J. Beathard threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles and Raheem Mostert also coughed one up for the 49ers, who gave away a game to the previously winless Arizona Cardinals in a 28-18 loss Sunday.
The Niners (1-4) lost despite outgaining the Cardinals (1-4) by a 447 to 220 yard margin, recording 23 more first downs, running 43 more plays and more than doubling Arizona’s time of possession.
“You look at a lot of those (stats), it’s hard to find how you lost a game,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Then it’s very easy when you look at the turnover column. I haven’t been part of any game, I don’t think many people have, where five turnovers to zero leads to a win. We have to improve that drastically to have a chance.”
The Niners started the game well, taking the opening kick and driving 75 yards for a touchdown. Beathard completed all five passes on the drive as San Francisco exploited Arizona with screen plays, including the 5-yard touchdown pass to Matt Breida.
But the next eight drives resulted in one interception, two fumbles, one missed field goal and four punts.
“It is self-inflicted wounds and those are toughest ones to swallow,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “Because you don’t feel like it is the opponent, you feel like you are hurting yourself. We have to clean those up in practice.”
Despite those woes, San Francisco’s defense shut down rookie Josh Rosen after allowing a 75-yard touchdown pass on Arizona’s first play and the Niners were in position to take this game when Beathard threw a 1-yard TD to Trent Taylor on fourth down with 6:51 to go to make it 14-12.
Chandler Jones then batted away a potential game-tying 2-point conversion try, but the 49ers forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with 5:50 to play needing only a field goal for the lead.
Then on the third play, Beathard dropped back and Haason Reddick knocked the ball out of his hands. Josh Bynes scooped it up and ran 23 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
Beathard threw one more interception before adding a garbage time touchdown that did little to ease the pain of this loss.
“You can’t win ball games turning the ball over five times,” Beathard said. “I feel like we played well in all the other aspects except for turnovers. Just got to take better care of the ball.”
The 49ers held Arizona to just 3.0 yards per play after allowing a 75-yard touchdown pass from Josh Rosen to Christian Kirk on Arizona’s opening play when free safety Adrian Colbert jumped up in the play to take away Larry Fitzgerald and let Kirk get open deep.
But the defense was unable to help the offense out by generating any turnovers against a rookie quarterback.
“It’s frustrating,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “Obviously the first play of the game on defense, we give up a big play. We just have to be better than that. It was a simple play, it was easy to get stopped and we just didn’t execute it like we needed to. So, that’s where you need to because after that they didn’t have much. We gave them 75 yards to start and I think they had 200 in the game and 30 rushing. So, we have to find a way to get that out of there.”