San Francisco 49ers At Arizona Cardinals Preview


For their first divisional matchup of the year, the San Francisco 49ers travel southeast to take on the Arizona Cardinals.

Under Harbaugh, the 49ers are 5-1 against the Cardinals, including sweeping them two years in a row. In fact, Bruce Arians said this week that “It can’t be a rivalry if you get your ass kicked all the time.”

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Arians isn’t giving his Cardinals team enough credit, as they took the 49ers to the wire in both of their games last year.

Last year the Cardinals won 10 games, but still missed the playoffs. After two games this year they are leading the division with a 2-0 record, and are looking to expand that lead by simultaneously going 3-0 and sending the 49ers to 1-2.

Carson Palmer is still banged up slightly, so Drew Stanton will reportedly be starting for the Cardinals tomorrow. The Cardinals won with Stanton against the New York Giants last week, but the 49ers should be a whole different beast.

Last week against the Giants, Stanton threw for 167 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes and only threw for a 5.8 average. With the weapons that he has at his disposal, the 49ers are hoping for another game like that from him.

The Cardinals feature both Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd on the outside of their offense. This is a pair of receivers that are as good as any in the NFL. After Jay Cutler burned the 49ers for four touchdown passes last week, the 49ers are looking pretty vulnerable to the rest of the league.

The Cardinals definitely watched Jimmie Ward get bullied by Brandon Marshall for three TDs, and will most likely employ this same strategy with their star wide receiver, Fitzgerald. The 49ers know this, and there has been much discussion about it.

The Cardinals won last week in old, 49ers fashion: on the backs of their defense, running game, and special teams. The defense intercepted Eli Manning twice last week, which helped lead Andre Ellington to his 91 yards on 15 carries. Ex-49er Ted Ginn had a punt return for a touchdown, that also helped seal the deal.

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49ers assembled a golden roster via NFL Draft despite misses
49ers assembled a golden roster via NFL Draft despite misses /

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  • It’s no secret to the 49ers or anyone how the Cardinals expect to win this game. If the 49ers perform well and play as a team, they can win this game fairly easily. They just need to be sure not to let them off the hook.

    To win this game, the 49ers need to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes as they did last week. They can’t afford to give the Cardinals extra chances with stupid penalties and costly turnovers. If the 49ers get the lead early, they can’t let Arizona claw their way back into the game.

    Both Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald are questionable to play on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean the 49ers’ passing offense will falter.

    Michael Crabtree always seems to have his best games against the Cardinals and Patrick Peterson. While Peterson is a great player, he always seems to struggle when matched up against Crabtree.

    Last year, Anquan Boldin had his second best game of the season against his former team. He put up 149 yards on 9 receptions along with one touchdown. Boldin will be a big part of the 49ers’ game plan this Sunday.

    The reason why the 49ers’ passing offense will be important, is because the Cardinals are one of the best at stopping the run. They were the best run defense in the league last year, and seem to be on the same path this year. Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde will have tough sledding every time they touch the ball.

    Colin Kaepernick needs to get over last week’s disaster of a game and just go out and play. The 49ers’ can’t afford to have him play tentatively because of past mistakes, but they also can’t afford to have him make the same mistakes either.

    At the end of the day, with Stanton at quarterback, the 49ers have everything in place to come out of this game with a win. As long as they play as a disciplined team and don’t give the Cardinals extra chances, this game can be theirs.