When: Sunday October 13th at 1:25pm PT
Where: Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Ca
TV: FOX (regional)
Northern/Central California: KTVU 2 San Francisco; KTXL 40 Sacramento; KMPH 26 Fresno
Arizona Region: KSAZ 10 Phoenix; KMSB 11 Tucson; KECY 9 Yuma, Az/El Centro, Ca.
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Erin Andrews
49ers Looking to Extend Winning Steak- The task ahead of the 49ers this Sunday is to seek their third straight win against the visiting Arizona Cardinals, another NFC West opponent. The 49ers the last two weeks have rebounded from a slow start and upped their season mark to 3-2 with consecutive impressive outings against the St Louis Rams and Houston Texans. Meanwhile the Cardinals come into Sunday's contest tied with the 49ers for second place in the NFC West, posting an identical 3-2 mark. The Cardinals have rebounded from a thrashing at New Orleans in Week 3 to picking up consecutive wins against Tampa Bay and Carolina. The winner of this contest will keep pace with the Seattle Seahawks in the division while the losing team could fall two games back of the top spot. The 49ers have already been there and rest assured they don't want to go back.
49ers: Defense helps the Offense- Last week the 49ers defense was in many ways the offense as they returned an interception for a touchdown and often created decent field position for the offensive unit. Though the defense spent almost 34 minutes of game time on the field they never broke or really seemed to get tired. They are the big reason the 49ers have bounced back into contention in the division. If the defense continues to play as they have this will continue to pay huge team dividends throughout the season. Last Sunday versus Houston NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, and Eric Reid alone combined for or assisted on 34 tackles. They were able to take Matt Schaub out of his comfort zone early. Though the Texans made several played in between the 20's, the defense would ultimately rise up and stop Houston when they needed to. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer will throw more challenges at the 49ers defense and has the veteran experience needed to guide the Arizona offensive units.
Offense Needs to Step Up- Offensively the 49ers could be better however they made the most of what the defense was able to give them last Sunday. That said, Colin Kapernick is going to need to step up and be better than a 6 for 15 performance, and he knows that too. Kaepernick despite the passing performance still managed the game well enough and the 49ers as a team did just enough. Whereas the Texans had a top ten defense last week, Arizona's defense statically ranks below Houston in all areas except for rushing defense. However in their last two wins the Cardinals defense has only allowed one touchdown and 16 points overall. The 49ers were able to run the ball on Houston and should be able to establish an equal or better running game versus the Cardinals. The key again will be for the 49ers to get the running game going in order to spread the field better and have more weapons at their disposal. If Frank Gore can get through the Arizona defense, so should Kendal Hunter, Anthony Dixon, Bruce Miller and LaMichael James. In order to do this the offensive line again needs to open more running lanes. They will have their work cut out for them. If the 49ers can get this part of their game going, getting the football to Vernon Davis, Anquon Bouldin, Kyle Williams, Jon Baldwin, and Vance McDonald should be something Kaepernick can do with a degree of efficiency as the end result.
Cardinals- Offensively Arizona is not going to remind anyone of the Broncos, however they know how to play grind out football and can stay with many teams because of it. Carson Palmer has done well enough since coming over from the Raiders and has shown the stability and leadership the Cardinals have lacked at this position previously. Palmer has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1185 yards and five touchdowns this season. His primary receiver is the ever reliable Larry Fitzgerald. Other weapons in the Arizona arsenal include receivers Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, and Andre Ellington out of the backfield. Also in the Cardinal backfield is former Pittsburgh Steeler Rashard Mendenhall who has made a career out of being a short yard specialist. On defense the Cardinals are led by Karlos Dansby, Yeremiah Bell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, and Tyrann Mathieu. Veteran kicker Jay Feely handles the extra point and field goal duties.
Kingshark Line Prediction- The key for the 49ers defense is to get after Palmer in much the same way they did against Schaub last week. Neutralizing Fitzgerald and Mendenhall will be a main objective too. Additionally, if the 49ers can get some three and outs on the defensive end it will create more offensive opportunities. The offense needs to take what they are given and run with it literally. They certainly have room for improvement and need to move in that direction. If they are successful then the sky is the limit. The Cardinals do have a good run defense (3rd in the NFL), but are average on pass defense (19th). If the 49ers could handle the Texans who on average ranked higher in these defensive categories, then they should be fine on Sunday too. 49ers 31 Cardinals 17.
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