Despite loss, Arizona Cardinals running game gashes 49ers defense

While the Arizona Cardinals couldn’t keep up with the San Francisco 49ers, they once again reinforced the fact their running game is one of the best.

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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No, the Arizona Cardinals didn’t keep up with the San Francisco 49ers, and chances were, they weren’t going to. The 49ers had been playing their best football and a team with a rebuilding roster that has won just three games just wasn’t going to beat them. 

But it didn’t mean the Cardinals weren’t laying down and allowing the Niners to be the better team in every phase of the game. And the Redbirds reminded the rest of the league just how good their running game is, and this occurred vs. a team whose rushing defense allowed just 78.3 rushing yards per contest heading into Week 15.

Overall, four different players had multiple touches, while receivers Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch also received one carry apiece. James Conner led the way with 86 yards on 14 attempts, good for 6.1 yards per, and a long of 44 yards. Emari Demercado made the play of the game with a 49-yard touchdown run, and he ended the game with 64 yards on four carries, and 16.0 yards per. 

Arizona Cardinals running backs break a pair of 40-plus-yard runs

Michael Carter had three carries in this one, and he gained 27 yards, 9.0 per carry, and a long of 19. Quarterback Kyler Murray also pitched in for 49 yards on six carries, so he also supplemented well with 8.2 yards per, and a long of 15. Overall, the Arizona Cardinals rushed for 234 yards on 30 attempts, 7.8 yards per carry, and two touchdowns. 

Going forward, it’s clear from their Week 15 performance that the Cardinals need to keep building their offense around the run. Murray has shown since returning from his ACL tear that he can still scramble and pick up positive yardage and when healthy, Conner could realistically give the Cardinals another season if they keep him around, but again, health is a major concern. 

Identity is huge for this young Arizona team, but if they run the ball against most teams in the NFL the same way they did vs. the 49ers, they will win more than a few games next season. It’s all about adding more talent to the offensive line and to keep adhering to the system offensive coordinator Drew Petzing has in place.

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(Statistics provided by ESPN.com)