SAN FRANCISCO – Kurt Warner was 29-of-45 for 354 yards, and Boldin somehow turned one of his 11 catches for 156 yards into the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Arizona Cardinals’ 17-10 victory over San Francisco.

Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, who had eight receptions for 129 yards, ran wild and free against San Francisco’s inexperienced secondary. But the Cardinals couldn’t take control until Boldin turned a short catch on third-and-20 into a 54-yard, broken-field TD rumble, avoiding five tackles and eventually diving into the end zone with 10:45 to play.

Filling in for injured kicker Neil Rackers, Nick Novak kicked three field goals as Arizona (4-8) got its second win in three games – but this one wasn’t much to remember. Warner threw two interceptions, and the Cardinals managed just 65 yards rushing.

No. 1 draft pick Alex Smith was outstanding before halftime and dismal afterward in his third NFL start for the 49ers, remaining winless – and without a touchdown pass – in his pro career. He was 11-of-12 for 138 yards in the first half, but 5-of-12 with three interceptions after halftime, including Eric Green’s pick with 1:42 to play.

Keith Lewis blocked a punt and intercepted Warner’s pass in the fourth quarter for the 49ers (2-10), who lost for the 10th time in 11 games since the season opener.

Maurice Hicks scored the only touchdown for the Niners, who play their next three games on the road – where they’ve won one game in two years – before a season-ending matchup with 1-11 Houston on New Year’s Day.

The game didn’t start out as ugly as it ended. Despite near-constant blitzing by both defenses to capitalize on Smith’s inexperience and Warner’s immobility, both quarterbacks were remarkably sharp. Smith completed his first eight passes, while Warner was 16-of-23 in the first half.

Smith’s proficiency finally paid off in the closing minutes of the first half, when he hit Johnnie Morton for a pair of 24-yard gains before finding running back Frank Gore on a broken play for 31 yards, setting up Hicks’ TD dive.

Lewis blocked a punt to set up Joe Nedney’s 48-yard field goal, putting San Francisco up 10-9 entering the fourth quarter. Lewis then intercepted Warner’s terrible pass with 11:36 left – but Gore fumbled on the 49ers’ next play.

After two incomplete passes and a holding penalty, Warner hit Boldin with a short pass over the middle. Boldin stumbled and slid past five potential tacklers before outrunning Shawntae Spencer to the end zone, and the 2-point conversion put Arizona up 17-10.

Smith threw his second interception into triple coverage, and got picked off by Green to end it.

Both teams scratched their most productive running backs. Kevan Barlow sat out for San Francisco with a knee injury, and Marcel Shipp was sidelined with a neck problem.

AP-ES-12-04-05 1927EST


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