The San Francisco 49ers travel to Arizona for a Week 5 tilt against the undefeated Cardinals, who are firing on all cylinders on the offensive side of the ball behind superstar quarterback Kyler Murray. But the biggest story of the game will be the first start for rookie quarterback Trey Lance. The stage is set for an intriguing matchup on Sunday. Let’s take a look at the possible scenarios.
Best Case Scenario: The 49ers will control the tempo of the game with their rushing attack and wear the Cardinals defense down in the second half. They will dominate the time of possession and force the Cardinals into a physical, low scoring showdown.
Trey Lance will make his debut and lead a run heavy attack that 49ers fans have become accustomed to during the Kyle Shanahan era. The offense will finally debut the exotic zone read looks that reporters raved about during training camp. The 49ers will include all of their offensive playmakers in the run game with jet sweeps, shovel passes and zone read concepts. The variety will stun the Arizona defenders and the 49ers will eat up yards in the run game against the 29th ranked rushing defense. Trey Lance will break a few big runs and finish close to the century mark in rushing yards and Brandon Aiyuk will be the recipient of a couple of long passes once the defense starts keying in on the run.
The Arizona Cardinals offense will score early but eventually be forced into some mistakes caused by the 49ers stout pass rush. Nick Bosa will wreak havoc this week and notch two or more sacks in this game along with three additional sacks from his defensive cohorts. Arizona will fall behind in the second half as their offense will be out of sync due to the long drives put together by the San Francisco offense and will fail to get anything going after their promising opening drive. Murray will look human and have his worst outing of the season including a couple of turnovers.
Worst Case Scenario: Lance will struggle in his debut and will be harassed all day by a stout Arizona pass rush. A couple of first half turnovers by the 49ers will put the game out of reach by halftime and they will be a one-dimensional offense in the second half forcing Lance to play to his weaknesses and have a terrible first outing.
The 49ers are a running football team, unfortunately the entire world knows it, including Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph. Arizona will pressure Lance mercilessly throughout the game and he will struggle. Joseph will take away the run game with a stacked box on defense and force the 49ers to pass. Lance’s inaccuracy will be on full display and 49ers fans will not see the long, plodding drives they have become accustomed to with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. Expect a couple of first half turnovers including a Lance fumble putting this one out of reach early.
Murray will show why he is a leading MVP candidate on Sunday. He has too many weapons at his disposal and he will shred the 49ers depleted secondary by spreading the ball around as he’s done all season. The 49ers overmatched defense will wear down in the second half after they spend the majority of the afternoon on the football field. The more Murray is on the field, the worse it is for the 49ers.
Chuy’s Prediction: The Cardinals will outlast the 49ers in a physical game that is closer than many expect. Cardinals 33 - 49ers 27
Kyler Murray is an MVP candidate for a reason and he will torch the 49ers defense. Trey Lance will have a successful debut for the 49ers but it will not be enough, however I do expect his performance to solidify his spot atop the quarterback depth chart for the remainder of the season as long as he remains healthy.
The 49ers offense won’t be able to keep up due to a run-heavy game plan but will have success on the ground making this a closer matchup than many expect. Ultimately, there are just too many playmakers on the offensive side of the ball for the Cardinals and too many injuries in the 49ers secondary.
This is going to be a tough one faithful but I have feeling a sense of optimism will be in the air following a promising performance by Trey Lance. Make sure you follow me on Twitter: @chuy_alejandra and YouTube: Chuy and Alejandra. We will be live during halftime of the game on YouTube, see you then.