Defense can't slow San Francisco run game in 38-10 lossDarren Urban
MEXICO CITY - Zach Allen just wanted to finish getting dressed before he spoke to the media, and he went to pull on his hoodie.
It was backward, with the hood about to cover his face.
"If that doesn't tell you it's not my night ..." Allen said.
To be fair, it wasn't anyone's night on the Cardinals.
Their trip to Mexico ended with disappointment, a 38-10 loss to the 49ers at Estadio Azteca on "Monday Night Football" that dealt whatever postseason hopes the Cardinals (4-7) had and reduced them to nearly nil in an NFC race that has found too many other teams pulling ahead.
The Niners (6-4), meanwhile, pulled into first place in the NFC West.
"We have to figure out a way to get a win before the bye," quarterback Colt McCoy said. "That's our main focus and our only goal."
The atmosphere at the legendary Mexico City stadium was electric as expected, although 49ers fans were dominant and the reactions were often louder than what the Niners get at Levi's Stadium.
With the Cardinals still missing four offensive line starters, their starting quarterback, two of their top pass catchers and their best cornerback, it wasn't a recipe for success.
"When you play a team like the 49ers," McCoy said, "there is little room for error."
Jimmy Garoppolo threw four touchdown passes but it was the running game that changed the outcome. The 49ers only ran the ball seven times the entire first half, an odd ratio for Kyle Shanahan despite San Francisco holding a 17-10 lead. That quickly changed on the opening possession of the second half. The Niners ran it seven times in an eight-play touchdown drive, emphasized by Deebo Samuel's 39-yard end-around touchdown run to make the bulge 14 points.
That was more than the Cardinals were going to be able to make up against a talented 49ers defense.
The 49ers averaged more than seven yards a play before the final kneeldowns, and they rushed for 159 yards - 126 in the second half.
"I didn't feel gassed," linebacker Markus Golden said. "I really can't answer that. They made some big plays in the second half. I thought we were going to make it a tough game, but we couldn't do it."
Coach Kliff Kingsbury also said he didn't think the 7,000-foot-plus elevation was "a game-changer." It was the 49ers that did that.
McCoy's second start featured a lot of the same things as his first - quick passing, going to the proper receiver - but as he went 24-of-34 for 218 yards, he was without a touchdown and his lone interception - which was tipped by running back James Conner before being picked - led to a San Francisco score.
Greg Dortch had a 47-yard catch-and-run - the Cardinals' lone play of at least 40 yards this season - en route to his first NFL 100-yard game (nine catches, 103 yards) - and DeAndre Hopkins (9-91) was again excellent. But Rondale Moore left with a groin injury, and the Cardinals averaged less than three yards per rush attempt.
"We knew we'd have to play as good as we've played all year," Kingsbury said. "The atmosphere was incredible. I wish we could've performed better."