For many Cardinals fans it feels like it’s going to be a long week after that difficult loss against the Saints on Sunday. But if there was ever a week to let go of the past and build on the future, it's the week before hosting the undefeated San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers are coming off a powerful win over Carolina, 51 to 13. Of their seven wins, each have been by 14 points or more, with three of the games by 24 or more. Maybe even more surprising is that they've managed those wins without tackles Joe Staley an Mike McGlinchy, full back Kyle Jusczcyk and cornerback Akhello Witherspoon. Staley was limited in practice on Monday, but during his absence rookie Justin Skule has filled in. Skule was trounced a few times during the game against the Panthers, which cost the 49ers a safety in one situation.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked a total of 3 times on Sunday, the most this year for San Francisco. When comparing Jimmy G's stats to Kyler Murray's, Jimmy has more interceptions (7 to Murray's 4) and less overall yards (1,489 to Murray's 1,988). When factoring in the two extra touchdowns Jimmy has on the year, his quarterback rating is higher at 93.4, compared to Murray's 85.9.
San Francisco racked up a total of 407 yards on Sunday that was dispersed between 13 players. Most notably, running back Tevin Coleman who got 118 total yards in 13 touches that included a whopping 4 touchdowns. 49ers traded for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders just 5 days before the Carolina game. Yet he made an immediate impact for the team scoring the first touchdown in the game. Sanders was able to get nice separation from his defender, allowing multiple first-down conversions. The 49ers top receiver on the year, tight end George Kittle could cause some trouble for the Cardinals. While he's only managed one touchdown on the year, he's had 462 yards in 40 receptions. 6 of those touches were on Sunday for a total of 86 yards.
Although the 49ers offense has been intense, what poses more of a threat for their opponents is their defense. Led by defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has created a defense that is excellent at intimidating and shutting down quarterbacks. The number one defense in the league has only allowed an average of 224 yards and 11 points per game. While captain, and cornerback Richard Sherman is a name most Cardinals fans will recognize from his days with Seattle, most fans will also likely know the name Nick Bosa.
Right behind Kyler Murray as the 2nd pick in the 2019 NFL draft, Bosa has made a compelling campaign to win the NFL Defensive player of the year. Bosa's strength helped him to beat Carolina's offensive line on multiple occasions, which even lead to a 46-yard interception against quarterback Kyle Allen. Prepare for San Francisco's defensive line comprised of Bosa, Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Ronald Blair III (amongst others) to attack the Cardinals already depleted running back game. So, if the running back department is shut down on Thursday night, you might think that Kliff Kingsbury may want to rely on the air raid offense again, right? Well, the 49ers will likely have a response for that as they have not allowed a touchdown pass since their week 3 game against Pittsburgh.
Although home field advantage hasn't played a factor for the 49ers this season, it may feel like a home field game depending on how many of the '49ers faithful' show up. Make no mistake about it birdgang, this will be a difficult game by any measure. The backdrop of the game being played on Halloween night might not be the only spooky storyline to come from this divisional matchup.