Which team will come out to play Sunday for the Arizona Cardinals when they host the San Francisco 49′ers at University of Phoenix Stadium? Will it be the team that went 0-4 in the preseason, leaving many doubters about the success of this team or will the team that made the playoff run to the Super Bowl eight months ago come to play?
My best guess is you will see a little of both. First, the starters will play the whole game, not just a few series. Secondly, it is the home opener, against an inferior, yet improving, 49′ers team. Many people will say the preseason was just an aberration. We’ll see. I realize the preseason means nothing on Sunday. What the preseason did though was raise a few red flags. The play calling was ok at best and mostly questionable. The secondary was torched several times, a trend the Cardinals developed quite a bit during the regular season last year. Also troubling is the sporadic play of Cardinals starting quarterback Kurt Warner. Is he hurt and not saying anything? Does he have enough left in the tank to match the Pro Bowl season of 2008?
Also to be concerned with once again are injuries to key personnel. Receiver Steve Breaston is nursing a bruised knee however is expected to play. He played in the final preseason game last week in Denver. Receiver Anquan Boldin once again is dealing with a bad hamstring, however both he and coach Ken Whisenhunt this week said he would play, despite the lack of practice.
As for the 49′ers, head coach Mike Singletary ran a boot camp style training camp, with all but four days being two-a-days. The Cardinals only had a handful of two-a-days. That right there shows the difference in the philosophy of what it takes to win for these two franchises. We’ll see which one prevails.
San Francisco starts Shaun Hill at quarterback. He will once again have Issac Bruce to throw too. However, first round pick Michael Crabtree still has not signed a contract and chances are looking slim that will ever happen. He was officially removed from the 49er’s roster this week. Hill could use a guy like Crabtree. Receiver Josh Morgan could make everyone forget about that though. He is considered an up and comer and could be an impact on Sunday’s this season.
What to watch for: The Cardinals running game. Can the Cards establish a two man running game with Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells? My best guess is yes, at least this week.
Intriguing matchup: All players. I don’t say that lightly either. Normally I like to single out a single great match up. However, these two teams have provided a lot of entertainment in Glendale over the past couple of seasons. I can’t see why this time around would be any different. It could be a track meet.
Prediction: A tough call for me given so many unknowns headed into the first game of the season. However since it is at home, every major skill starter will at least start the game, Arizona should shake off the preseason blues for at least one week. Arizona 34 San Francisco 28
Tags: Anquan Boldin Arizona Cardinals Beanie Wells Issac Bruce Josh Morgan Ken Whisenhunt Kurt Warner Michael Crabtree Mike Singletary San Francisco 49ers Shaun Hill Steve Breaston Tim Hightower University Of Phoenix Stadium