(CBS Local) — The San Francisco 49ers (8-1) were the NFL’s only undefeated team going into Week 10. Then they lost to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night in overtime. Only two teams in the Super Bowl era — the 1972 Miami Dolphins and 2008 New England Patriots — have finished the regular season with a perfect mark, so it was bound to happen eventually, given that their remaining schedule is a veritable who’s who of playoff contenders.
This week the 49ers stay within the NFC West for their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1). While the they’re obviously favored (NFL odds sit at 10.5 points, as of Thursday), the game could be another stumbling block. The signs are there.
As SportsLine senior analyst Larry Hartstein explains, “You look at the Niners, coming off their first loss, that dropped them to 2-7 against the spread in their last nine division games, and now here they are playing another division opponent. They didn’t cover the first time against Arizona. Arizona got that 88-yard touchdown to get the backdoor cover, and that is five out of six covers for these Cardinals.”
Arizona is no pushover. They played the Baltimore Ravens tough in Week 2, and pulled within a field goal of the 49ers in Week 9. Had Jimmy Garoppolo, after tossing four touchdown passes, not been able to run out the clock, San Francisco’s undefeated streak might have ended a couple weeks earlier. The young Kyler Murray had himself a nice outing, going 17-24 for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Kenyan Drake carried 15 times for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Murray, the highly touted rookie out of Oklahoma, remains inconsistent in his first year in the pros. But he is developing into an NFL quarterback. The Cardinals QB went a less efficient 27-44 last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he also piled up 324 yards and three touchdowns. “They lost by three at Tampa this week,” Hartstein points out, “and could have won outright. Kyler Murray is protecting the ball now. One interception in his last six games after four picks in his first four games.”
The 49ers also have a short week to recover from a physical game against the Seahawks. Defense carried both teams in regulation, forcing turnovers and putting up a touchdown apiece. The 49ers’ offense didn’t help. Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida totaled 86 yards on 25 carries. Jimmy G was sacked five times, receivers dropped passes left and right.
“Emotionally, I think they are going to be fine,” says Hartstein, “but physically, that was a violent, brutal game that went almost a full overtime. You look at the injuries. George Kittle didn’t play. Emmanuel Sanders left with the rib injury. Without them, Jimmy Garoppolo has to be thinking, get me some new receivers. These guys dropped nine passes. He didn’t play well either, but they really let him down. You have to watch Kittle and Sanders, their status.”
Kittle hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday yet. Sanders’ day-to-day status could drag on until game-time. Breida is also dealing with a recurrent ankle injury and is day-to-day, while left tackle Joe Staley had surgery on a dislocated finger and is expected to miss another two weeks.
The 49ers will look to return to the win column in Week 11. Another loss, believe it or not, would drop the 49ers into second place in the division, with the 8-2 Seahawks, who have a bye, owning the tiebreaker.
The 49ers play the Cardinals Sunday @ 1:05 p.m. PT.