SAN FRANCISCO -- Patrick Willis tracked down Larry Fitzgerald just as the 49ers' linebacker promised earlier in Sunday's game, and as a result, Willis forced a pivotal fumble in the 49ers' 32-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Apparently a playful nudge by Fitzgerald not only caught Willis off guard but also provided motivation.

"I've known Fitzgerald a long time and we're good friends, (but) he came over and bumped me," Willis said. "Once I've got the chin strap buckled, I don't have friends. So I told him, 'I haven't tackled you yet. I'll have to get you at some point.' "

Willis used his left hand to strip Fitzgerald of a third-quarter reception that safety Eric Reid recovered at the 49ers' 11-yard line. The 49ers' ensuing series resulted in an 18-play touchdown drive that secured the team's third straight win.

"I am not going to sleep at all. I let my team down in that situation," Fitzgerald said of his fumble. "We were driving, running the football, the momentum is in our favor, and I just got a little careless with the football."

It was Willis' biggest play in an otherwise quiet return from a two-game hiatus caused by a groin injury. Willis said he's still not completely recovered, noting: "I told NaVorro (Bowman) I felt like a rookie and my eyes weren't as good." Willis also is still feeling effects from a broken right hand in August.

Willis heaped some blame on himself for the Cardinals' averaging 5.2 yards per carry and totaling 109 rushing yards, including a 15-yard touchdown by Andre Ellington.


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  • Rookie Corey Lemonier's first career sack produced a second-quarter safety on Carson Palmer. Lemonier also forced a fourth-quarter fumble that Bowman recovered with 6:06 remaining.

    Coach Jim Harbaugh added: "Pass rushers are hard to find, and it's exciting seeing him do the job he's doing."

    Lemonier has been the 49ers' right-side pass rusher in Aldon Smith's absence, which extended to a third straight game while Smith is in treatment for substance abuse.

    On the safety, Lemonier got past left tackle Bradley Sowell, a former college foe from their Southeastern Conference days. "He happened to give me the set I was looking for, and I did what (position coach) Jim Tomsula says, and that's run fast."

  • Candlestick Park's sparsely remaining crowd drew heat for doing the "wave" while Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell was getting placed on a stretcher with about five minutes remaining.

    "To say I'm disappointed some fans did the wave this afternoon while @Campbell93 was down is understatement. Hope you get well soon Calais," 49ers CEO Jed York said via Twitter.

    Arizona coach Bruce Arians said that Campbell "left the field with movement and that the feeling was coming back in from extreme numbness." Campbell was scheduled for further evaluation.

    The 49ers' Frank Gore and Alex Boone motioned for the crowd to stop the "wave." After the game, Joe Staley tweeted: "To all the fans that did the wave while a player was on the field in pain getting carted off, I was embarrassed for you. Very disrespectful."

  • The 49ers lost nose tackle Glenn Dorsey to a right-hamstring strain in the first quarter, and his replacement, Tony Jerod-Eddie, missed some time in the second half with cramps. Harbaugh indicated that reinforcements could come this week as rookies Quinton Dial and possibly Tank Carradine practice for the first time after being on the reserve/injury list. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio indicated last week those rookies might not be ready to play immediately.

  • On a slow-developing rollout, Colin Kaepernick had a second-quarter pass to Bruce Miller tipped by Karlos Dansby and picked off at the goal line by Yeremiah Bell. "It was a touchdown if it didn't get tipped," Kaepernick said. " ... That's my fault. I have to find a throwing lane."

  • Kyle Williams opted to fair catch four punts Sunday, raising his season total to 16. The most in a season this decade by the 49ers: Arnaz Battle 20 (2004) and Ted Ginn Jr. 18 (2010, 2011). Williams' only punt return went for 7 yards. He said he fumbled the second-half kickoff because "I wanted to make a play and I took off early."

  • Rookie Reid's third interception this season matched the 2012 total of his predecessor, Dashon Goldson.

  • Carlos Rogers made his first interception of the season (and matched his 2012 total) when he cut in front of Fitzgerald, one play after fellow cornerback Tarell Brown dropped a potential interception.

  • Michael Wilhoite, Willis' understudy and a special-teams ace, left with injuries to his forearm and quadriceps.

  • Anquan Boldin became the fourth-fastest player to record 800 career receptions (146 games).

  • The 49ers improved to 27-7 in 100-yard rushing games by Gore (25 carries, 101 yards).