Drew Stanton guides unbeaten Cardinals past 49ers


The Arizona Cardinals pulled out an edgy division win at home, topping the San Francisco 49ers 23-14 at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday. Our takeaways:

1. After last week's ugly meltdown against the Bears, Colin Kaepernick was a clean 7-for-7 passing with a touchdown strike on San Francisco's opening touchdown drive. The 49ers starter accounted for 161 of his team's 182 yards in the first half, but Kaepernick's offense -- which hasn't scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter this season -- fizzled out down the stretch. So did a Niners defense overwhelmed by Arizona's speedy cachet of pass-catchers: Michael Floyd and John Brown made mincemeat of San Francisco's secondary.

2. Drew Stanton was the story of the second half. The Cardinals backup absorbed a string of clock-cleaning hits, but kept getting back up. Stanton lit up the 49ers with a pair of third-quarter touchdown darts to Brown, who repeatedly beat coverage before drawing a critical pass interference call on Arizona's game-clinching march. While Stanton missed his share of deep strikes to open targets, Carson Palmer's understudy was all grit.

3. Those who love long, slow drives should view this one on Game Rewind. A first-half stretch saw San Francisco score on a 12-play, 80-yard march before Arizona countered with a 17-play, 66-yard series that chewed eight-plus minutes off the clock. The 49ers countered with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that melted another 8:35 out of the first half.

4. If Kaepernick's turnovers killed the 49ers against Chicago, Sunday's implosion was more about the team failing to convert key third downs. We also saw a departure from their time-tested strategy to bleed teams with the run, as San Francisco employed a heavy dosage of five-receiver sets to make up for the loss of tight end Vernon Davis.

5. That pass-happy approach betrayed the 49ers but helped Stevie Johnson. The veteran wideout caught three passes on San Francisco's first two drives -- and nine for 103 yards on the day -- after just four grabs over his first two games.

6. Arizona's fourth-quarter block of a Phil Dawson field goal deflated the Niners while giving the Cardinals an NFL-leading 17th block since 2008.

7. The Niners have been outscored 52-3 in the second half this season.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps the Falcons' lopsided win over the Bucs and previews every other game in Week 3.