Westbrook leads 49ers
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Brian Westbrook rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown in place of the injured Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers sent punchless Arizona to its sixth consecutive loss, 27-6, Monday night in a shower of boos from the Cardinals home crowd.
Westbrook, who had nine yards in five carries all season, carried 23 times in his 21st career 100-yard game, but first since Dec. 7, 2008, for Philadelphia against the New York Giants.
San Francisco (4-7), beaten at home by Tampa Bay, 21-0, last week, improved to 3-1 since Troy Smith became starting quarterback.
Arizona (3-8), two-time defending division champion, has not lost this many in a row since dropping eight in a row in 2006, Dennis Green's final season as coach.
San Francisco's first drive didn't go so well. Gore burst up the middle for a 25-yard gain on the game's first play and had a 15-yard gain on 3rd-and-long six plays later.
After that, Gore suffered a hip injury -- he returned later -- and replacement kicker Shane Andrus, who signed Nov. 17 to replace injured Joe Nedney, ended the drive by missing his field goal wide right.
This was a matchup of two 3-7 rivals somehow still in a playoff race.
They were supposed to be the division favorites.
Arizona, the two-time NFC West champions, was a season removed from its first Super Bowl appearance and hoping to get back.
The Cardinals instead turned inconsistent, bad on defense, even worse on offense.
Trying to find stability after Kurt Warner's retirement, Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt has flip-flopped quarterbacks, opening with Derek Anderson, switching to rookie Max Hall, then back to Anderson.
None of it has worked.
The Cardinals had lost five in a row and their last game at home, an 18-point loss to the Seahawks, was punctuated by boos from the fans, many of whom decided not to stick around until the end.
San Francisco was expected to make its big leap under coach Mike Singletary this season and challenge the Cardinals for the division title.
That didn't happen, either.
The 49ers opened the season 0-5 and had a bit of quarterback shuffling of their own, sticking with Smith even though Alex Smith is now healthy.
San Francisco pulled within a game of co-leaders St. Louis and Seattle in the anemic NFC West and despite its record, is still in contention for the division title.
First Published November 30, 2010 12:17 am