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49ers top Cards with big offensive show

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By Janie McCauley, AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In his likely last hurrah for San Francisco, Alex Smith made his case for a starting job elsewhere.

Smith threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis in what likely was the quarterback's final game with the 49ers, and San Francisco beat Arizona 38-7 on Sunday in a matchup for last place in the awful NFC West.

Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick who becomes a free agent, passed for 276 yards and two TDs overall and the Niners (6-10) made interim coach Jim Tomsula a winner in what will probably be his only game coaching the team. Tomsula was promoted from his defensive line duties after Mike Singletary was fired following a loss last week.

Larry Fitzgerald had a 10-yard TD reception from John Skelton among his 11 catches for Arizona (5-11), which failed to win back-to-back games all year.

Brian Westbrook had a pair of 6-yard TD runs in the third quarter for San Francisco.

The game affected both teams' top-10 picks in April's draft - exact positioning still to be determined.

The teams went 1-2 in the division a year ago and had high hopes entering 2010, with the 49ers favored to win the West. Instead, they began 0-5 and couldn't produce the franchise's first winning season since its last trip to the postseason in 2002.

Davis finished the year with seven TD receptions, six fewer than a year ago when he tied Antonio Gates' record by a tight end with 13. Tarell Brown added a late 62-yard interception return for a touchdown in San Francisco's second-highest scoring output of the season.

Westbrook - clobbered on an around-the-neck tackle by safety Adrian Wilson late in the first half - had his second big game of the year against the Cardinals. He ran for 136 yards and a score in a 27-6 Monday night victory on Nov. 29 after Frank Gore went down with a season-ending fractured right hip. On Sunday, Westbrook became the only active player and one of four overall with 40 career rushing touchdowns and 30 TDs receiving.

Smith hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a 37-yard touchdown pass to the right corner of the end zone to put San Francisco ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter.

Smith was sacked times in his previous start, a 34-7 loss at San Diego on Dec. 16. Singletary turned back to Troy Smith in last Sunday's loss at St. Louis, then Tomsula named Alex Smith his starter for the season finale.

Alex Smith completed his first six passes before throwing an incompletion late in the first quarter to tackle Adam Snyder, who reported eligible.

The Niners were 1-for-7 on third downs in the first half and Smith was sacked twice but San Francisco put together a solid second half for a commanding victory - though not many fans stuck around to see it. It was a dismal crowd at Candlestick Park on a cool, overcast afternoon after heavy rain fell over night.

The 49ers won their fourth straight in the series despite Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt being determined to finish strong and make a statement after the embarrassment on Monday Night Football in late November. Arizona managed only eight first downs in that game, getting 11 rushes for 13 yards.

The 49ers are set to make changes. Club president Jed York plans to hire a general manager soon, then have that person pick the new coach. San Francisco will surely make a run at Stanford's Jim Harbaugh after his team plays in the Orange Bowl on Monday night.

San Francisco's defense missed four-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who sat out and didn't start for the first time in his career. Willis underwent a second surgical procedure on his broken right hand early last week.

Game stats

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

 

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