What it means: The Cardinals appear finished. They've lost six in a row, falling to 3-8 and they are showing no signs they can bounce back. It's almost certainly going to be a long December in Arizona even though the Cardinals' schedule appears favorable. The 49ers helped bring clarity to the division by affirming this is a three-team race between St. Louis, Seattle and San Francisco. The 49ers showed they could bounce back from an embarrassing defeat the previous week. The way they ran the ball against Arizona should put Seattle on notice for when the teams play at Candlestick Park in Week 14, particularly if Frank Gore returns from the hip injury he suffered Monday night.
What I liked: The 49ers showed a killer instinct early. They were conservative on their opening drive, running seven times in 10 plays. But when Arizona lost a fumble on its first offensive snap, the 49ers went to the end zone immediately. Troy Smith's 38-yard touchdown strike to Michael Crabtree set the tone for this game. Arizona went away quietly.
What I didn't like: The Cardinals appear to be getting worse. They're well past the point of blaming turnovers for the majority of their struggles. This is a bad team, through and through. An offseason roster overhaul appears appropriate.
Injurie(s) of note: The 49ers lost Gore to a hip injury. They lost center David Baas (jaw) and receiver Dominique Zeigler (knee). None returned. Brian Westbrook filled in admirably for Gore. Tony Wragge took over for Baas.
Tomorrow's Talker: Does this 49ers victory mean they are primed for a late-season run to the playoffs? They travel to Green Bay in Week 13, followed by the Seattle game and then two more on the road. Life in the NFL is week to week. The 49ers beat a bad team Monday night. Let's see if they can sustain their momentum. They're more firmly back in the race if they win one of their next two games.
Unsung Hero: Ted Ginn Jr. gave the 49ers favorable field position with long returns on punts and kickoffs. He had a 42-yard punt return and a 41-yard kickoff return. Ginn justified the 49ers' decision to name rookie receiver Kyle Williams inactive.
What's next: The 49ers visit the Packers. The Cardinals are home against the St. Louis Rams.