USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals' season is finally over and, rest assured, they will have plenty to think about coming out of this defeat.
Well, that's all folks. The season has come to an end. Obviously all of Cardinals nation has been left desiring a bit more, but it's nice to know that we do not have to watch them lose until next September. It is going to be a long offseason for the entire organization.
As part of that long process, the team is going to sit down and look at their performance against the San Francisco 49ers in the final game, in which they lost, 27-13. Here are five of the negatives they will notice on tape.
No pressure on Kaepernick
The Cardinals lack one supreme pass rusher from the outside linebacker position, which forces them to rush the opposing quarterback as a committee. That means that more often than not, Ray Horton, the Cardinals' defensive coordinator, is forced to dial up a blitz to bring down the passer. Even when he did that against the 49ers, it just didn't seem the Cards could bring down Colin Kaepernick. Instead, he escaped the pocket and used his fast feet to his advantage.
Calais Campbell was the only player to register a sack for the Cards on Sunday, which was far from what Arizona was hoping to accomplish. Kaepernick's career-high 276 passing yards is evidence of that.
Boy, this kid has really come into his own. No matter who was tasked with defending Michael Crabtree, he seemed to find a way around the Cardinals' defense. He ended the day with 8 catches for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns, similar to the numbers he had the last time he played in Arizona. And he didn't even really play in the final quarter.
Patrick Peterson struggled to contain him, as did any other defensive back that guarded him. The Cardinals can somehow have better luck stopping Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, but when Crabtree comes on the field, they have issues. Because that makes sense.
Second half implosion
Going into halftime, the Arizona Cardinals had to be confident in themselves. They were only down 7-6 after David Akers missed a couple of field goals, leaving them in perfect striking distance to steal a win in the second half at Candlestick Park. Unfortunately, something went wrong.
The 49ers made some halftime adjustments and came out looking like a whole new football team. They started pressuring Brian Hoyer, shutting down William Powell and Kaepernick was getting whatever he wanted. I cannot simply pin it on one thing, but the Cardinals just fell on their faces coming out of the intermission.
The Cardinals came out of this game far more banged up than they have any other game this season. By my count, 4 starters were injured for the Cards. It started with Pat McQuistan who was filling in at right guard after Adam Snyder moved to center. He left the game in the first quarter with a left ankle injury and was replaced by Senio Kelemete.
Paris Lenon was the next one down, leaving in the third quarter with a left hand injury. After that, Patrick Peterson exited the game with a hamstring injury, followed by Adam Snyder, who was replaced by Scott Wedige. At least the team won't have to worry about their status' for the next game.
Bad way to end season
Now, I am not saying that the Cardinals are going to carry this loss with them for the next nine months. I honestly don't believe momentum -- positive or negative -- lasts that long. But as soon as that clock showed 0:00 at the end of the fourth quarter, the evaluation process began. Sweeping changes will be made; there is no doubting that. Members of the coaching staff will be gone and there will be a multitude of cuts made to the roster.
What those moves are, we will just have to wait and find out.