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49ers stun Cardinals, shake up bottom of NFC playoff picture

The Cardinals playoff hopes took a hit with a loss on Saturday. We break down what it means following Jeff Wilson’s huge game.

Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. #30 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes the football during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 26, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers pulled off a big upset in Week 16, and it’s shaking up the bottom of the NFC playoff picture in a big way. Jeff Wilson led the way in a dominant ground effort, en route to a 20-12 win in Glendale.

The Arizona Cardinals dropped to 8-7 and for the time being do not control their own playoff opportunity. They held the No. 7 seed coming into Saturday, and remain in the position for the time being. However, the Chicago Bears hold the tiebreaker edge and would move into No. 7 with a win over Jacksonville on Sunday. Chicago hosts Green Bay in Week 17 while Arizona travels to face the Rams. The Cardinals will need to win that game unless Chicago loses their final two games.

Running back Jeff Wilson and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh were arguably the two biggest stars of this game. Wilson rushed for a career-high 167 yards and added a 21-yard touchdown reception. C.J. Beathard had a solid effort, throwing for three touchdowns and 182 yards, and benefited from both Wilson and the 49ers defensive effort.

Robert Saleh is likely to land a head coaching job this offseason, and this kind of game is going to top his resume. Fred Warner and Ahkello Witherspoon and others made huge plays on Saturday, but Saleh provided impressive work in scheming against a prolific Cardinals offense. Mobile quarterbacks have created problems for the 49ers, but even though Murray ran for 75 yards, his passing day was inefficient.