49ers can't hold off Cardinals in 21-19 loss


49ers can't hold off Cardinals in 21-19 loss


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 49ers were playing to maintain their advantage in the race to be the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffsThe Arizona Cardinals were trying to hold onto their faint playoff hopes.The Cardinals helped their cause with a 21-19 victory Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, and gave the 49ers their first true shot of adversity with three games remaining in the regular season.The 49ers (10-3) have the same record as the New Orleans Saints behind the unbeaten Green Bay Packers. But the 49ers still hold the advantage for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs based on their better conference record. The Cardinals (6-7) remain alive in the NFC playoff hunt.It was a football fight out there, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. I thought we were in position to win this football game really at times during the game. We didnt get it done and we are disappointed about that. We look forward to seeing how our teams responds to some adversity. We havent had a lot of it this year.--Cardinals starting quarterback Kevin Kolb was knocked from the game with a head injury in the first quarter, and backup John Skelton played the rest of the way. Three weeks ago, Skelton started against the 49ers and struggled immensely. He completed 6 of 19 passes for 99 yards and three interceptions before getting benched.Skelton got it going against the 49ers this time with a lot of help from Larry Fitzgerald, who caught seven passes for 149 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown. Skelton figured out the 49ers defense, as he completed 19 of 28 passes for 282 yards with three TDs and two interceptions.--Safety Donte Whitner said the 49ers secondary took full responsibility for the loss. But the 49ers offense was atrocious in the second half after Frank Gore had a 37-yard touchdown run on the teams first play of the third quarter.The 49ers only first down in their final six possessions came on a Cardinals personal foul penalty. The 49ers were 3 of 17 (18 percent) on third downs. Three times the 49ers got inside the Cardinals 10-yard line, and three times they settled for field goals.--The 49ers' pass defense got interceptions from safety Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown, but they also gave up the big play. The Cardinals got on the board on Early Doucet's 60-yard TD reception in the second quarter.--The game's momentum swung on a three-play sequence in the second quarter. After a Kyle Williams 11-yard reception on third down left the 49ers short of the first down, the 49ers sent out their field-goal unit.The 49ers called for a fake field goal, instead of a 50-yard attempt. Holder Andy Lee hit center Jonathan Goodwin (who lines up as a wing on field-goal attempts) on a long pass and a possible touchdown.But Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt threw the challenge flag and referee Alberto Riveron ruled that the challenge was issued before the snap of the ball. Harbaugh said he was watching from the other sideline, and he disputed the ruling.Riveron went to view the Williams play to see if he got both feet in-bounds. But the replay machine malfunctioned, so the play was never reviewed.Kicker David Akers, who made four field goals in the game, then missed from 50 yards. And on the next play, Skelton hit Doucet for the touchdown.--Left tackle Joe Staley sustained a head injury in the first quarter and did not return. Alex Boone stepped in and played well. Staley must be cleared by an independent neurologist before he is allowed to return to practice.--Linebacker Patrick Willis (hamstring) missed his second career start. It is uncertain whether Willis will be available for the 49ers' next game, Monday, Dec. 19, against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Quarterback
College: Iowa
Height: 6-2
Weight: 219
Selection: Third round, No. 104 overall

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers traded back into the end of the third round to select a quarterback to join Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the 49ers' roster.

General manager John Lynch's fourth trade of the draft netted the team the grandson of legendary NFL personnel man Bobby Beathard. His grandson, C.J., joins the 49ers after a four-year career at Iowa. Beathard completed 58.6 percent of his passes last season with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Beathard was not generally expected to be chosen within the first two days of the draft. He was the sixth quarterback selected, falling behind Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Deshone Kizer and Davis Webb.

"They won't regret it," Beathard said on a conference call with the Bay Area media.

The 49ers traded up with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had the No. 104 pick, and called the 49ers to see if they were interested in a trade. After some consideration, the 49ers decided to move up from No. 109 while also giving the Vikings a seventh-round pick at No. 219.

"Might he have been there at 109? That’s what we had to weigh," 49ers John Lynch said. "But at the end of the day, we felt like it was worth it to be able to go to bed knowing that we had a player that we liked and want the opportunity develop at the quarterback position."

And that's what coach Kyle Shanahan plans on doing. He said Beathard is not coming to the team this season to compete with Hoyer for the starting job.

"We’re bringing him in here to develop him and give him a chance, but just like any other position, everyone competes," Shanahan said. "Brian is our starting quarterback and, right now, Matt Barkley is our second. And I look at him to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster.

"By no means did we come into this draft thinking we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian."

Shanahan said Beathard and Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman were the two quarterbacks in the draft who ran offenses in college most similar to the offense he will install with the 49ers.

"One thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play," Shanahan said. "It helps being at Iowa and watching the system he’s in. It’s easier to see to watch him over the years. He’s a three-year starter. He’s led his team to a bunch of wins, especially in 2015 when they had a better team and he played unbelievable."

As a junior at Iowa, Beathard completed 61.6 percent of his pass attempts for 2,809 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

"He’s a leader. He’s tough. He processes very well," Shanahan said. "He's extremely accurate and he lives and dies football."

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Cornerback
College: Colorado
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 193
Selection: Third round, No. 66 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a Sacramento native, in the third round of the NFL draft with the No. 66 overall pick.

“Being close to home is an incredible opportunity, as well as the type of defense they play -- press man, up in your face,” Witherspoon said. “When I came in for a visit, they were asking me if I’ve adopted that role and if I’d be willing to continue that. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s an opportunity to play for such a great organization, close to home, with such a savvy defensive mentality. I think it’s going to be a great place for me.”

The 49ers were also scheduled to have the next pick, but traded the selection at No. 67 for the New Orleans Saints’ second-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a seventh-round selection (No. 229 overall) this year. The 49ers now have 10 picks in next year’s draft.

The Saints used that pick at No. 67 to select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

Witherspoon began his college career at Sacramento City. He played his final three college seasons at Colorado. He started 12 games last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Witherspoon led the nation with 22 pass breakups. He recorded one interception -- a game-saving pick in the end zone to preserve a 41-38 victory over Oregon. A pre-med student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, he said he aspires to be a doctor after his football career.

But Witherspoon said he is committed to football and promised the 49ers during his visit to Santa Clara that he will make huge strides over the next few years as he continues to develop as a player.