49ers: Pregame Marquee Match ups vs. The Arizona Cardinals

Niners Live broke down every angle of the heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Now, fresh from a week off, the 49ers play their third straight divisional game as they travel south to take on the Arizona Cardinals. Our coverage continues as we preview week #4 against the Arizona Cardinals, the third of three straight divisional games. We will break down the key offensive and defensive matchups.

 

It was perhaps one of the most exciting games of this young 2017 season, yet the San Francisco 49ers find themselves 0-3 after suffering a 41-39 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams, despite having their most productive game offensively. The 49ers defense was beaten repeatedly at the run and the pass and will now have to contain the highly explosive Arizona Cardinals passing game, while the offense will try and pick up where it left off against a tenacious Arizona defense.

49ers Offensive Line & Running Backs vs. Arizona’s Front 7

The running game for the 49ers actually did all right under the circumstances, as Carlos Hyde survived a hip injury scare. Hyde’s health will determine if he once again sees a majority of snaps or if it will be running back by committee with both Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert seeing action. It was a tale of two halves for the 49ers Offensive Line, as they seemed to get their second wind in the 2nd half. The line of Laken Tomlinson at left guard, Right Tackle Trent Brown, Center Daniel Kilgore, Right Guard Brandon Fusco, and Left Tackle and Pepsi commercial star Joe Staley will be facing an Arizona Front Seven that employs the 3-4 system. The defensive tackles are led by Corey Peters, veteran Frostee Rucker and Josh Mauro. The inside linebackers are led by Karlos Dansby, who returns to Arizona for his 3rd campaign. Dansby is accompanied by Haason Reddick. The Will linebacker is played by Markus Golden, while the SAM linebacker is played by pass-rusher Chandler Jones, who will give Trent Brown fits.

Brian Hoyer vs. Chandler Jones

Brian Hoyer undoubtedly had his best game as a 49er last week, but by no means should he rest on his laurels. After all, it did result in a loss, and he was sacked numerous times in the 1st half.  His job will be to know where Chandler Jones is at all times. Jones himself is one of the premiere sack artists in the NFC West, if not the NFL. Jones currently leads the Cardinals with 4 sacks.

Recent Article Alert: Has Brian Hoyer Done Enough To Silence His Critics?

49ers’ Secondary vs. Arizona’s Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Let’s be real here, the secondary was torched by the Rams last week. Corner Dontae Johnson looked every bit like a rookie and Rashard Robinson was smoked for three targets totaling 66 yards and contributed three pass interference penalties. You can bet perennial All-Pro and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, along with Jaron and John Brown (no relation), are looking to put up some big numbers on Sunday. The big question everyone wants an answer to is; will 10 days off be enough to get Box Safety Eric Reid back into action? Jimmie Ward saw significant action at Free Safety and while Jaquiski Tartt had some big hits as Reid’s replacement last Thursday, his tackling performance was indeed something less than desired. Jermaine Gresham is a presence at tight end in both blocking and passing.

49ers WRs & TEs vs. Arizona’s Secondary

Another huge test awaits 49er Receivers and Tight ends.  Forty-niner Pierre Garcon leads the team with 16 receptions and will be going against Right Cornerback Justin Bethel, and should probably be the primary target in the passing game. Marquise Goodwin will be matched up against perhaps the best Cornerback in the game in All-Pro Patrick Peterson. However, don’t be surprised to see Peterson match up on Garcon at times throughout the game base on (Garcon’s performance against the Rams).

Perhaps the weak link in the secondary is former 49er Antoine Bethea, who was always the best against the run but has always been exposed on passing plays, which should be an advantage for Tight End George Kittle or Fullback/Tight End Hybrid Kyle Juszczyk who is in concussion protocol and may or may not be available for the game. Both Aldrick Robinson and Trent Taylor saw increased playing time last week, expect that to continue this Sunday. When they are in the slot, they will be opposed by Brandon Williams. Of course, we would be remise without mentioning Free Safety Tyrann Mathieu, aka “The Honey Badger”. He switches as the Nickel Corner on 3rd down to take away the slot and as the saying goes, HE’S ALWAYS AROUND THE FOOTBALL.

49ers Front Seven vs. Arizona’s Offensive Line and Running Backs

The good news for the 49ers Front Seven is they will not have to face Running back David Johnson, who is out because of a wrist injury. Instead, Arizona will rely on former NFL’s fastest man, Chris Johnson, for running plays, and Andre Ellington for passing downs. The strength of the Cardinals’ offensive line is on the left side, led by former Pro-Bowl and 49er Guard Mike Iupati and Tackle D.J. Humphries. It will be a huge test for DeForest Buckner. With Tank Carradine placed on the injured reserve list, rookie Solomon Thomas will get his first start of his NFL Career. The man anchoring the Cardinals’ offensive line at Center is A.Q. Shipley. As the left side of the line is the strong side, the right side is a vulnerability; in particular, Right Tackle Jared Veldheer and Guard Evan Boehm who gave up countless sacks against the Dallas Cowboys, particularly in a 3-man rush.  It could be huge game for both Arik Armstead and Earl Mitchell on that left side of the front four. The middle linebacking unit, led by Navorro Bowman and Ray-Ray Armstrong filling in at the Will spot and Eli Harold will at the SAM, will try to make up for their poor performance last week, which saw many missed tackles. We’re still waiting to see when Reuben Foster will return to action.

Carson Palmer vs. Arik Armstead & Elvis Dumervil

The health of Carson Palmer is always a topic of big concern for Head Coach Bruce Arians, particularly with the poor performance on that right side of the line. Both Elvis Dumervil and Arik Armstead are licking their chops at the thought of multiple sacks, especially after causing havoc against the Rams last week.  As Palmer’s health goes, so does the chances of Arizona making the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if former 49ers Guard Alex Boone sees time at the Right Guard position to try and stop the bleeding.

49ers’ Secondary vs. Arizona’s Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Let’s be real here, the secondary was torched by the Rams last week. Corner Dontae Johnson looked every bit like a rookie and Rashard Robinson was smoked for three targets totaling 66 yards and contributed three pass interference penalties. You can bet perennial All-Pro and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, along with Jaron and John Brown (no relation), are looking to put up some big numbers on Sunday. The big question everyone wants an answer to is; will 10 days off be enough to get Box Safety Eric Reid back into action? Jimmie Ward saw significant action at Free Safety and while Jaquiski Tartt had some big hits as Reid’s replacement last Thursday, his tackling performance was indeed something less than desired. Jermaine Gresham is a presence at tight end in both blocking and passing.

Storylines: The ties that connect the 49ers and Cardinals

This is the first official divisional coaching matchup between Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians and San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. This game will see a host of former 49ers on the opposite side; in particular: Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, Antoine Bethea, Blaine Gabbert, Andy Lee and Phil Dawson.

One More Thing

It’s truly a new day that sees the Los Angeles Rams leading the NFC West and the favorites Seattle and Arizona sitting tied for 2nd at 1-2. The 49ers have a chance to make things very complicated in the division if they can bring a continued pass rush to frustrate Carson Palmer and make the most of their opportunities on offense. They need this victory as next week they will play on the road against Frank Gore and the Indianapolis Colts.

Injury update: The Cardinals have a few players that are questionable due to injury; LB Deone Bucannon, O-linemen John Wetzel, Alex Boone and D.J. Humphries. And the 49ers have three players in concussion protocol; Tartt, Brock Coyle, and Juszczyk. Note as of 9/27/17: Tartt, Coyle, and Juszcyk were cleared for non-contact football activity from concussion protocol.

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author and new Staff Writer @NinersLive.net, David Edmondson.  Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims