Niners clinch NFC West in win over Cards
San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Michael Crabtree caught a pair of touchdown passes en route to a career-high 172 receiving yards as the San Francisco 49ers clinched the NFC West crown with a 27-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers also locked up a first-round bye in the playoffs after the Green Bay Packers fell to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Crabtree finished with eight receptions for the 49ers (11-4-1), who ended the regular season with wins in three of their last four games.
"I'm just going out there running routes, catching the ball and trying to make a play," Crabtree said. "I'm just ready to win."
Colin Kaepernick completed 16-of-28 passes for 276 yards and the two touchdowns, while Frank Gore carried the ball 20 times for 68 yards and a score in the victory.
Brian Hoyer, who was claimed by the Cardinals off waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 10, made his first career start and threw for 225 yards with a touchdown and interception on 19-of-34 efficiency.
Michael Floyd caught eight balls for 166 yards and a touchdown for Arizona (5-11), which closed out its season with losses in 11 of its last 12 games after starting 4-0.
"Today's game kind of mirrored our season. We started out well and did some things good, but we didn't do enough, especially early against a good football team, and we made mistakes in the second half that really hurt us," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
The teams traded punts over the first four possessions of the game until Hoyer made completions of 15 yards to Floyd and 12 yards to Andre Roberts to highlight a 7-play drive Jay Feely capped with a 35-yard field goal.
Feely connected on a 31-yard kick on the Cardinals' next touch following another San Francisco punt to give Arizona a 6-0 lead with 13:44 left in the second quarter.
LaMichael James then picked his way through the Arizona defense for a 26-yard gain before a 17-yard reception by Crabtree moved San Francisco deep into Cardinals territory on the 49ers' ensuing touch, but they could not find their way into the end zone and David Akers missed a 44-yard field goal wide left.
San Francisco was able to get on the board following a Cardinals punt with a quick 2-play drive consisting of a pair of Crabtree receptions, and ending with the receiver hauling in a 49-yard score on a corner route to make it a 7-6 game with 7:20 remaining in the half.
Crabtree kept the 49ers' next possession alive with a one-handed, 19-yard grab to convert a 3rd-and-11 before Kaepernick eluded a rush and found Delanie Walker for a 23-yard strike.
But Akers missed his second kick of the first half -- this one a 40-yard try -- to keep it a one-point game heading into the break.
Akers, however, was able to connect on a 43-yard kick on the opening possession of the third quarter to increase San Francisco's lead to 10-6 and start a streak of four straight possessions with a score as the 49ers pulled away.
Crabtree's 28-yard catch-and-run to convert a 3rd-and-8 highlighted the 9- play, 54-yard drive.
The 49ers regained the ball at the Arizona 38 following a 28-yard punt return by Ted Ginn Jr. and after a 27-yard grab over the middle by Walker moved the ball inside the Cardinals 10, Kaepernick hit Crabtree for a 7-yard score, giving San Francisco a 17-6 advantage with 5:58 left in the third quarter.
San Francisco then opted to go for it on a 4th-and-6 at the Arizona 36 on its next touch and Crabtree was left wide open down the left sideline for a 14- yard gain.
Gore caught a short pass and raced downfield for 14 yards on the next play before he capped the 12-play, 72-yard trek with a 2-yard rumble across the goal line at the two-minute warning.
The score was Gore's 51st career rushing touchdown, which set a new franchise record.
On the next offensive play, Floyd was hit from behind while running after a catch and fumbled the ball. The 49ers recovered the loose ball at the Arizona 34 and Crabtree later converted a 4th-and-6 with a 6-yard catch.
But San Francisco could not push the ball into the end zone and were forced to settle for Akers' 26-yard kick for a 27-6 lead.
The 49ers' scoring streak ended with a three-and-out following a Tarell Brown interception, and Floyd's 37-yard touchdown grab in the right corner of the end zone on a desperation heave on a 4th-and-24 with 1:59 left in the game accounted for the final margin.
The 49ers have won seven of the last eight meetings between the teams and own a 26-17 advantage in the all-time series ... Crabtree finished the regular season with 1,105 to record his first career 1,000-yard season. He also became the first San Francisco receiver to surpass 1,000 yards since Terrell Owens in 2003 ... 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith entered the game needing 3 1/2 sacks to tie Michael Strahan's record for most sacks in a season, but he did not record one.
12/30 21:03:08 ET
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