San Francisco 49ers vs the Arizona Cardinals, Part II: “The game inside the game, Top 5 match-ups to watch.”
Top 5 match-ups – 49ers vs Cardinals
- 49ers front seven vs David Johnson – Coming off a down game last week in his last outing against the Carolina Panthers where Johnson only rushed for 24 yards on ten carries. David Johnson and the Arizona Cardinals will be looking to rebound well against a 49er defense which, under defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, has given up 100+ plus yards to seven different running backs in a row, including David Johnson at home in Week Five where they gave up a then-season high of 157 yards. To make things worse, the 49ers have faced numerous injuries on the defensive side—second year defensive tackle Arik Armstead on season ending IR this week with a shoulder injury, and also getting news this week that Rookie CB Will Redmond won’t return from injured reserve. The defense must improve from their Week Five outing, stack the box, and force the Cardinals to make Carson Palmer beat them with his arm.
- 49ers’ corners vs Cardinals’ dangerous trio of receivers – Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown could be argued as the league’s most talented receiving corps in the NFL. Both Fitz and Floyd have size and strength, and Brown is a great slot receiver with breakaway speed and agility, posting a 4.3 forty time at the combine. Rookie Rashad Robinson’s status is still in question going into Sunday’s match-up. However, the 49ers should have Jimmie Ward, who missed the Week Five battle with an injury. Jim O’Neil and the 49ers’ secondary must rely on using fundamentally sound technique and the use of physicality in the secondary, something that has been lacking, to say the least, from this unit as a whole, in order to have a chance to try and slow down the Cardinals trio of playmakers. If they fail to do so, it will be another long afternoon for this 49ers’ defense.
- Joe Staley vs Chandler Jones – The 49ers’ offense line ‘may be’ the only lone bright spot for the team, and if you have been tuning into this season so far, that’s not saying much. In fact, the unit has surrendered 18 sacks on the season, ranking 15th in the NFL, the middle of the pack. And for the most part, they have allowed a decent pocket for Kaepernick to work in to have an opportunity to be effective down the field. Chandler Jones has been his usual self, registering five sacks already on the season and Staley continues to be the anchor of this offensive line. Pro Bowler vs Pro Bowler, the Cardinals can certainly put up points in a hurry with their high-octane offense. If the Niners get behind early, as they did last week against the Saints, they must rely heavily on Joe Staley and the rest of the offensive line to get some consistency going in the passing game, but in order for that to happen, it would help to have the return services of running back Carlos Hyde to help set the tone for the offense and keep the game close or, at least be competitive to have a chance to win.
- Jeremy Kerley vs Tyrann “The Honey Badger Mathieu” – In the first match-up in Week Five, Kerley seemed to get the better of Mathieu, snagging eight receptions for 102 yards and a TD. However, since the benching of Blaine Gabbert AFTER the Week Five loss, Kerley has become the ‘Forgotten Man,” registering only seven catches for 49 yards in the last three weeks COMBINED. Mathieu has had some struggles in coverage this year, so if Kerley can get involved early and keep Mathieu and this tough Arizona secondary off balance, it could bode well for the Niners on the offensive side of the ball come Sunday.
- Colin Kaepernick vs Cardinals’ secondary – The last time Colin Kaepernick played against this Cardinals’ secondary in Week Three of last year, it could have been, if not, Kaepernick’s worst performance of his career. Throwing back to back pick six’s in the first half, Kaepernick finished the night 9 for 19 with 67 yards and 4 int’s in a 47-7 blowout loss to the Cards. Coming off one of his stronger performances last week, Kaepernick and the 49ers’ offense will look to build off the momentum they built last week as he looks to be getting more comfortable in the offense. Or was that just the Saints bad defense? Nevertheless, the Niners should look to get Kaepernick comfortable early with some flare passes, screens to Quinton Patton? How about mobile pockets? And establish the running game in order to have a good shot at being competitive in this contest.
I leave you with this:
There are also other intriguing match-ups to watch out for including Torrey Smith vs Patrick Patterson and the Niners RB’s DuJuan Harris, the Cardinals’ run defense. Whoever can win these key battles aforementioned will have the best chance of coming out on top come Sunday.
Important to note: The Cards offense is currently rank 19th in the NFL in scoring at 22.4 points a game. Via, NFL.com.
Injury update: Mathieu is progressing through his shoulder subluxation, Kyle Odegard of the Cardinals‘ official site reports. “Ty’s real close, but I don’t know [about Sunday against the 49ers],” head coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday. If the Honey Badger can’t go look for Kerley VS Rookie Brandon Williams and veteran Justin Bethel by committee. Advantage Kerley.
All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus,49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author/Editor Niners Live. #eyeswideopen