San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (99) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) After nothing but success the first eight games of the season, the San Francisco 49ers now are learning to deal with failure.
The Niners' perfect season was derailed last week with an overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks when San Francisco was unable to overcome a litany of offensive miscues.
The 49ers (8-1) will look to get back on the winning track Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1) for the second time in three weeks.
''I think we have a good mindset with it,'' said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who had his worst day of the season in the 27-24 loss. ''Everyone was in here yesterday working on the day off. Today it's just a sense of urgency in the building. It's good to see that.''
San Francisco committed three turnovers, allowed five sacks and struggled to get much of anything going consistently on the ground or through the air against Seattle.
The 49ers had season lows in yards rushing (87) and yards per attempt passing (4.7) on a night that star tight end George Kittle was out with an injury and No. 1 receiver Emmanuel Sanders left with injured ribs in the first quarter.
San Francisco is using that performance as a teaching tool for the rest of the season.
''You learn from the good and you learn more from the bad,'' tackle Mike McGlinchey said. ''It's a huge step in the right direction for us to be able take as many blows as we did and play as poorly as we did and still have a chance, not only one chance but multiple chances to win that game. That's a testament to how our defense played. ... We need to do a better job on the offensive side of the ball to make sure we reward their work.''
The Cardinals are stumbling toward their bye week, having lost three straight games after a promising start to the first season under coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray.
One of those losses was two weeks ago when Arizona fell 28-25 at home to the 49ers, a performance that gives the Cardinals confidence that if they can fix some mistakes they can compete with the first-place Niners.
''I don't think we played our best game,'' Murray said. ''I know personally, if we just go out and execute - they know what we do, we know what they do - if we go out and execute, we should be in good shape.''
The Niners' offense was done in by the absence of Kittle and Sanders last week. San Francisco scored 10 points on the opening two drives when Sanders was healthy and then just six more on offense the rest of the game. With no consistent receiving threats, the Seahawks were able to load up against the run and allow only 3.2 yards per carry. Kendrick Bourne had two key drops for San Francisco, while Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin combined for no catches on six targets.
Arizona has relied on a variety of playmakers this season and the latest to make big plays is rookie receiver Andy Isabella. The second-round pick out of UMass had an 88-yard touchdown catch against the 49ers in the first meeting between the teams on Oct. 31. He has six catches for 174 yards over the past three games after not even being targeted in the season's first seven games. Kingsbury said Isabella has been improving steadily all season.
''It's been trending that way for a while,'' he said. ''We've had him inside, had him outside, and I think now the comfort level, having him outside more so, has really helped his development recently.''
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The defensive star of the game for the 49ers last week was middle linebacker Fred Warner, who stepped up his performance in his first game since fellow starting linebacker Kwon Alexander suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle. Warner had 10 tackles, the first two sacks of his career, one forced fumble and a pass defensed.
''He gets us in and out of everything,'' coach Kyle Shanahan said. ''He has to make a ton of calls. He's definitely our quarterback out there and I think he does it as good as anyone I've seen.''
Arizona's defense ranks 31st out of 32 teams in points allowed (281), total yards allowed per game (412.5) and passing yards allowed per game (286.5). The Cardinals have given up at least 21 points in all 10 games this season but never have given up more than 38. Linebacker Chandler Jones has been one of the bright spots with 11 1/2 sacks and five forced fumbles. Three-time All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson returned from a six-game suspension last month but hasn't had much of an impact. Kingsbury said the Cardinals had bouts of poor tackling in last week's 30-27 loss to Tampa Bay.
''There were some shoulders being thrown,'' Kingsbury said. ''We have to be better in those situations.''
The 49ers again will be without starting left tackle Joe Staley, who will be out a couple of weeks after undergoing surgery on a broken finger. Staley broke a bone in his leg in Week 2 and missed the next six games. He then got hurt in his return to the lineup. With Staley unable to go, rookie Justin Skule is expected to move back into the lineup.
''I thought he did a very good job,'' Shanahan said of Skule. ''He came in there and stepped it up right away. Did a good job in his first game and I thought he got better each week.''
Five Hot Starts: Week 4
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is coming off of his best performance of the year and will look to keep it going in what should be an entertaining battle against the New England Patriots. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is likely staying up at night trying to find a game plan to stop Mahomes and the Chiefs explosive offense, but Mahomes as shown that the offense he leads is one of the best in a long time and wont be easy to stop. The Patriots Defense has only allowed 66 points on the season, but they have allowed 357 yards passing per game. The Patriots are likely to try run the ball and clock to prevent Mahomes from being on the field, but the MVP has shown that he doesnt need much time to do damage and he remains a QB1 every week.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson will square off with the Cardinals in Week 4. Anderson has gotten off to a great start, as he's caught 20 of 23 targets for 278 receiving yards and one score through three games. The 27-year-old connected on a 75-yard score in Week 1, so there's always the threat of the big play when he's out there. Arizona has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts, though they have surrendered the 10th-most passing plays of 20 yards or more and the seventh-most of 40 or more. Anderson can be volatile but his target share this year makes him easier to trust. He's a WR3 this week in a game where the Panthers could be playing from behind.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers will have a difficult matchup in Week 4 against the undefeated Bears. Rivers has been an average fantasy performer through the first three weeks with three passing touchdowns and three interceptions. The Bears Defense ranks seventh against opposing quarterbacks, so it is not likely that he will that he will have a strong fantasy day. The Bears also lead the league in opposing quarterback completion percentage, so it is also reasonable to expect Rivers to be inefficient. Combine these aspects with the fact that Rivers has not thrown the ball much over the last two weeks, and there is no reason to suggest that Rivers will be a viable fantasy option this week. DraftKings agrees and has his price set at $5,500.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will draw a tough matchup against the Patriots in Week 4. Kelce is the top option with wide receiver Tyreek Hill for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but the Patriots have done a stellar job against the tight end position in 2020. The Patriots have only allowed eight receptions, 73 yards and a touchdown to tight ends in three weeks and had their way with Darren Waller in Week 3 against the Raiders. Kelce is arguably the best tight end in the game and should be started every week, but those in DFS may want to check out other options in Week 4.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring) is active for Thursday night's contest against the Denver Broncos. It remains to be seen how much Crowder actually plays in this game and he's a fairly risky option in season-long leagues, but he is an intriguing play in DFS. Braxton Berrios's Week 4 value takes a hit with this news and should only be started in deep leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson has three touchdown runs in the past two games and has seen a marked increase in his passing game usage over the course of the season, catching six passes against Miami. He gets a solid Week 4 matchup against the Bengals, who are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Robinson's coming off a game in which he had 17 touches; if he gets that many again against this weak Bengals run defense, we'll be looking at another good performance for the undrafted rookie. Consider him an RB2 option this week.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V (hamstring) was a surprise entrant to the injury report on Thursday. Fuller has a history of missing games with hamstring issues, so this should be a worrisome sign for his availability against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. A healthy Fuller has game-breaking speed, but even he's not at 100 percent, he can be a complete afterthought, as he was in Week 2 when he was clearly not fully healthy and ended up not being targeted. Even if things trend towards Fuller playing, there's enough uncertainty to drop him down a tier in this week's rankings.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. is a risky play in Week 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals. While Chark -- who missed Week 3 with chest and back issues -- appears on track to play, the Bengals Defense has been solid against the pass this year, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Adding to the concerns for Chark is that the Jaguars and quarterback Gardner Minshew II have been spreading the ball around a lot so far this year, getting a whole host of receivers involved and not giving anyone a major share of the work. If someone breaks out here, it's Chark, but for now he should be considered a borderline WR2/3 with plenty of downside in Week 4.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II is coming off a disappointing Week 3 performance in which he failed to throw for a touchdown despite completing 71.43 percent of his passes. Now, Minshew will look to bounce back against the Bengals on Sunday. The problem? Cincinnati is only allowing 16.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, the eighth-lowest mark in the NFL. Maybe that success can be attributed to the quarterbacks they've faced so far, but with Minshew not being an elite passer, it's best to consider him as a risky, low-end QB2 at best in Week 4.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (hamstring) returned to practice in a limited fashion on Thursday after sitting out of the team's Week 3 win over the Saints. Adams did very little (three catches, 36 yards) when he was hurt in Week 2, but he went off for 14 receptions, 156 yards and two scores in the season-opener on 17 targets against the Vikings. It looks like Adams is on track to return for the Monday night matchup with the Falcons and their shaky secondary, so Green Bay's All-Pro wideout will once again be a must-start high-end WR1 for his fantasy managers. Allen Lazard, who had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown last week in Adams' absence, will be a boom/bust WR3/flex with Adams on track to return this week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (core), who stepped up with 146 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 3 against the Saints, has a new core muscle injury and did not practice on Thursday. It helped that Davante Adams (hamstring) was inactive last Sunday night, but Lazard has gained a lot of chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and seems to be the preferred target behind Adams. His status will be one to watch for Monday Night Football against the Falcons this week, but if he's questionable for that one, fantasy managers should look for better options. If Lazard were to sit out this week, Marquez Valdes-Scantling could step up as a flex option in deeper leagues.
Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith (back) returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday for the first time in a few weeks. Smith played in the season-opener but hasn't been on the field since, but it looks like he has a chance to return to the starting unit this Sunday against the Browns. Dallas really needs the 29-year-old in the fold, as they're already short-handed on the offensive line. Smith's return would be great news for quarterback Dak Prescott, who has performed admirably the last two weeks without his starting blind-side protector. Cleveland has a pretty nasty pass rush, so Smith would help a depleted offensive line as the Cowboys seek their second win of the season.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (back) was added to the injury report on Thursday with a back injury that he's working through. Beckham was officially limited in Thursday's practice, so it looks like he still has a good shot at suiting up in Week 4 against the Cowboys. Through three games in 2020, OBJ has 11 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown and is seeing consistent enough targets to make him a solid WR2 each and every week. This Sunday against a Dallas offense that hasn't had trouble putting points on the board, the Browns figure to throw the ball frequently. The Cowboys secondary is also allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to the receiver position.
New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (neck) is active for the Thursday night game against the Broncos as Sam Darnold's backup. With Flacco active, the team released quarterback Mike White. The 35-year-old Flacco is purely a clipboard holder for Darnold as long as he's healthy, which makes him useless in fantasy football. Never much of a fantasy asset even during his prime with Baltimore, the Jets would be in even more trouble if they were forced to use him as their starter in the event of a Darnold injury. New York also has rookie signal-caller James Morgan on their roster behind Flacco.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Jones was not able to play last week because of the injury but appears to be on track to play this week. He has been one of the top receivers in the NFL for several season and should be a weekly starting option when healthy.
New Orleans Saints OG Andrus Peat (ankle), TE Jared Cook (groin), DE Marcus Davenport (elbow) and CB Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 1. CB Janoris Jenkins (illness), WR Michael Thomas (ankle) and LB Chase Hansen (hip) were limited. DT David Onyemata (calf) was not given a practice designation.
Atlanta Falcons WR Russell Gage Jr. (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Gage still needs to pass his concussion tests before he is cleared to play, so fantasy players should know more about his status in a few days. He will receive a handful of targets if he plays and could be a flex option in deeper leagues.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore faces a tough matchup in Week 4 against Arizona. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to the wide receiver position than the Cardinals, though fellow number-one wideouts Terry McLaurin and Kenny Golladay were able to post good numbers against this defense. Moore is of a similar talent level to those two and commands a whopping 49.4% of his team's targeted air yards, which ranks second in the league. The second-year pro also ranks 11th in the league in targets, so he's seeing ample opportunity. In a game where Carolina may be forced to throw more, fantasy managers can plug Moore in as a solid WR2 with upside.
New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (elbow) and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) didn't take part in the portion of practice open to the media on Thursday. As key members of the team's defense, their statuses are something to watch heading into Week 4 against the Lions. Lattimore tweaked his hamstring in practice on Wednesday, but the injury isn't considered serious. The 24-year-old has 15 tackles through three games for the Saints, and his absence this Sunday would be good news for Lions star receiver Kenny Golladay, who scored a touchdown in his season debut in Week 3. If one or both of Davenport or Lattimore are inactive, it makes New Orleans' defense a less-appealing fantasy streamer.
New York Jets WR Jeff Smith was activated from the Reserve/Injured list Thursday, Oct. 1. Free-agent CB Javelin Guidry was also elevated from the practice squad. QB Mike White and CB Nate Hairston were released to make room on the roster.