The 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals because San Francisco coach Mike Singletary turned out to be dead wrong. Thats right, he was wrong about the most important things and because he was wrong, he had to change his offensive approach and that change won the game.
Before I get into Singletarys general wrongness, I want to praise him for what he got right. He deserves praise for winning the game, for beating a Super Bowl team and a division rival on the road. He deserves praise for making his team tough, for making a team that refused to feel discouraged. He deserves praise for finally having a pass rush, a rush that made Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner antsy and erratic and inaccurate. He deserves praise for all of that.
But he still got the most important thing wrong. He told everyone the 49er offense would consist of running the ball. The passing game would be vestigial, and quarterback Shaun Hill would be the silent partner, sort of like the ugly buddy of the hero. Singletary could not imagine Hill actually winning the game. It is a Stone Age philosophy, if you even can call it a philosophy.
But the running game did not win the game. Frank Gore gained 30 yards, a pitiful number. And he often looked pitiful, Cardinal defenders grabbing him by the legs and slamming him down as if they were buckaroos in a calf-roping contest.
Late in the game, Singletary still didnt get it. In the third quarter the Niners needed to expand their skimpy lead and there was Gore running three times in a row for hardly anything and the 49ers punting and the Cardinals coming right back with a touchdown that tied things up.
Finally, Singletary went away from his run-o-mania, although he never will admit that.
Here is Singletary, in denial-flagrante: We knew coming in here they wanted to take away our run. We felt it necessary to stay with it just to keep pounding it and the game would take care of itself. Its tough sometimes when you do that. The offensive line was getting frustrated, but they hung in there and when you had to have it, you had it.