49ers, Kaepernick horrible in 47-7 debacle against Cardinals

San Jose Mercury News

GLENDALE, Ariz. Colin Kaepernick's first four-interception game of his career began in dire fashion Sunday: the first two interceptions were returned for touchdowns on the 49ers' opening possessions in an eventual 47-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

The 49ers (1-2) trailed 31-7 at halftime, which was reminiscent of last Sunday, when they were behind 29-3 at intermission of a 43-18 loss at Pittsburgh.

The 49ers haven't given up this many points in back-to-back games since they also yielded 90 in 1980 defeats to the Dallas Cowboys (59-14) and Los Angeles Rams (31-17).

Against the first-place Cardinals (3-0), the 49ers' embattled defense couldn't rattle Carson Palmer (20-of-32, 311 yards, two touchdowns, one interceptions), nor cover Larry Fitzgerald (nine catches, 134 yards, two touchdowns), nor make goal-line stops nor make clean tackles.

This was the 49ers' most lopsided loss since a 41-0 defeat at Kansas City on Oct. 1, 2006.

Kaepernick finished 9 of 19 for 67 yards with a career-worst passer rating of 16.7.

The Cardinals' first pick-6 came from Justin Bethel, who stepped in front of a third-and-10 pass intended for Vernon Davis and returned it 21 yards for a 7-0 lead.

Four snaps and 2:03 later, Kaepernick again threw to his right and into the arms of a Cardinals defender, safety Tyrann Mathieu. Kaepernick was targeting Anquan Boldin on the play, and Mathieu had given Boldin a 10-yard cushion at the snap before closing fast to catch in stride Kaepernick's second-and-9 throw.

It was the first time a 49ers quarterback had thrown two pick-6s in a game since Steve DeBerg in 1980 against the Los Angeles Rams, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Trent Dilfer was the last to have four passes intercepted, doing so in a 2007 loss at Carolina.

Kaepernick, behind an increasingly suspect offensive line, did not attempt a pass on the 49ers next two series.

Kaepernick did snap the Cardinals shutout bid when he scored on a 12-yard run with 2:03 left in the half, cutting the 49ers deficit to 28-7. Jarryd Hayne set up that score with a 37-yard punt return to the Cardinals' 19-yard line.

Kaepernick opened the second half with interception No. 4, a 35-yard throw that Jerraud Powers snagged instead of Torrey Smith. Kaepernick walked off the field, appeared to get consoled by coach Jim Tomsula and then took a seat on a cooler, as he did after the earlier picks.

Kaepernick didn't have a pass intercepted in his previous six games, and he went 142 passes since his last interception, by Charles Woodson in a Dec. 4 loss at the Raiders. He had three-interception games last September against the Chicago Bears and in September 2013 at Seattle.

Kaepernick's only other pick-6 prior to Sunday's double whammy was in the 2012 49ers' playoff opener, with Sam Shields' 52-yard interception return putting Green Bay ahead 7-0 in the 49ers' eventual 45-31 win.

Through three quarters, Kaepernick had attempted 11 passes, five of which were caught by 49ers and four by the Cardinals.

Kaepernick didn't have a pass intercepted in his previous six games, and he went 142 passes since his last interception, by Charles Woodson in a Dec. 4 loss at the Raiders.

Kaepernick's only other pick-6 prior to Sunday's double whammy was in the 2012 49ers' playoff opener, with Sam Shields' 52-yard interception return putting Green Bay ahead 7-0 in the 49ers' eventual 45-31 win.

Mathieu's second interception of the day led to a Cardinals field goal as the half expired.

Cornerback Kenneth Acker's first career interception and first-round draft pick Arik Armstead's first sack were easily overlooked in the 49ers' worst loss to the Cardinals in 48 all-time meetings.

The Cardinals' cushion grew to 40-7 after a most peculiar play call led to a safety. With the ball at the 1-yard line, Colin Kaepernick took a shotgun snap and handed off in the end zone to Carlos Hyde, who couldn't get across the goal line.


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