Arizona run defense learned from mistakes vs. 49ers

Kaepernick: 'We have to keep our momentum'

Arizona run defense learned from mistakes vs. 49ers
December 26, 2013, 2:15 pm
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Frank Gore rushed 25 times for 101 yards the last time the 49ers and Cardinals played back on Oct. 13. (USATSI)

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers imposed their will against the Arizona Cardinals two months ago.

The 49ers wanted to run the ball, and that’s exactly what they did with an 18-play, 89-yard drive that chewed up 9 ½ minutes. The drive was the key sequence in the 49ers' 32-20 victory at Candlestick Park on Oct. 13.

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The 49ers ran the ball 11 times on the drive. And five of the runs were on the exactly same power play. The 49ers controlled the Cardinals. And they controlled the clock with an impressive display of power football.

“I wouldn’t say we gave up but we lost focus,” Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said Thursday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

“You kind of know what they (the 49ers) want to do, especially if they have the lead. They’re going to want to run the ball down your throat.”

It might come as a surprise, based on that drive, that the Cardinals rank No. 1 in the NFL in run defense. Coach Bruce Arians said the lessons learned that day against the 49ers are still be applied.

“We feel like we’ve gotten better from that drive,” Arians said. “We learned a lot on that drive. And have become the No. 1 defense in the league against he run for that reason.”

The lesson: “Stay in your gap. Don’t try to do too much,” Arians said. “Very, very simple.”

The Cardinals (10-5) remained alive in the NFC playoff hunt with a 17-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Arizona held Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch to 71 yards on 18 carries for a 3.9 average.