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Vernon Davis dominates as 49ers outlast Cardinals


The San Francisco 49ers' defense forced four turnovers and the offense added a heavy dose of the ground game to go along with a huge game from Vernon Davis en route to a 32-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

The Niners overcame two Colin Kaepernick turnovers, numerous failed red-zone opportunities and several big plays from the Cardinals' offense to move to 4-2 on the season.

Thursday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m. ET
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The key 49ers drive came after Patrick Willis stripped Larry Fitzgerald as the Cardinals were driving, trailing by two points, 22-20, near the end of the third quarter. Taking over on the Niners' own 11-yard line, Kaepernick engineered an 18-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that drained 9:32 from the clock and put the 49ers up two scores.

Predictably, Frank Gore carried the ball eight times on the drive (including five consecutive touches in Cardinals territory). Equally predictable: Kendall Hunter vultured the rushing touchdown.

Here is what else we learned:

1. Vernon Davis was an absolute beast. He ended with 180 yards on 8 catches -- 7 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone. He became the first tight end in franchise history with a 60-plus yard touchdown catch in back-to-back games.

2. Kaepernick's performance was uneven again this week, but he leaned on Davis and made plays when needed. His stats were respectable (16-for-29 passing for 252 yards) but his two turnovers were avoidable mistakes. He still stares down receivers too much.

3. Larry Fitzgerald's hamstring looked just fine and dandy on a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the first half. His third-quarter fumble that killed a Cardinals go-ahead drive, on the other hand, looked no bueno.

4. Carson Palmer threw two terrible first-quarter interceptions. He settled down and played well in the second half. At least he is consistent: He throws at least one soul-crushing interception per game.

5. Andre Ellington continues to be the most dynamic running back on the Cardinals' roster. He averaged 8.0 yards per rush and scored one touchdown, but had just seven carries. How Rashard Mendenhall ended up with more carries is baffling.

6. Calais Campbell was carted off on a stretcher in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals defensive end was in the midst of another beast game in what has been a dominant season.

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