Heading into this week’s matchup, the Cardinals are rolling into Candlestick Park (Potentially for the last time ever) with a two game win streak mostly due to the defense’s performance. The 49ers will be defending the home turf with a two game win streak as well but their wins were against better teams and the Niners won handily in both.
Usually I analyze and blueprint the defensive schemes that will be implemented each week for the Cardinals but the 49ers are built the same as the Panthers in which the principals will be the same. Treat Colin Kaepernick as they did Cam Newton but with more respect as he is a better passer with better protection. Kaepernicks weapon set is the same as well when you replace Steve Smith for “Q”- Anquan Boldin and the progression going to Vernon Davis and Kyle Williams thereafter. A top priority this week is slowing down the top 10 rushing offense the Niners possess.
The defense can succeed with the same type of performance they have had the last two weeks and the added bonus of film tips from the Niners last loss at Indianapolis. This matchup has some elements to it that can make it a game of the week considering it’s a rivalry and how well both defenses have been playing of late. Another aspect of the game to note is the Niners come in with six injuries on offense and five on defense to include Patrick Willis and Namdi Asomugha.
Regarding the offense, it hasn’t produced much the last two weeks and if the Cardinals have any chance of leaving San Francisco with a win Carson Palmer cannot throw an interception much less three like last week. There is an obvious disconnect between the quarterback and his receivers. This likely is the primary focus this week on the practice field. New left tackle Bradley Sowell did okay for his first start against the Panthers as he is noted as saying his man didn’t get a sack which is true but that man did beat Sowell on a few plays and was only saved by Palmers quick release. Hopefully Sowell has improved and gotten more comfortable playing as his hands will be full this week with a tougher opponent.
The Niners defense doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses and it’s because of this the only advise I can give Coach Bruce Arians is to use all of your weapons wisely to keep the defense off kilter. As soon as they key on and start slowing your run plays, start throwing intermediate routes to keep the linebackers honest and off the line. The Cardinals will be in good shape if the passing game can gel for the first time this season and they use the three headed monster of Rashad Mendenhall, Andre Ellington and Stephan Taylor who is looking to have his welcome to the NFL game at his college home in California against a rival.
In synopsis, the Cardinals come in well matched. Benefits include the Colts win a few weeks back as an aid to find ways to score and slow the Niners down. Arriving in Candlestick Parks farewell season with the success and energy from a dominant defense and facing an injured 49ers squad after two tough wins and no Aldon Smith. Obstacles still include a struggling offense against a prominent defense to include a developing left tackle. Another slight concern is the continued production from the newly constructed line-backing team that has looked solid of late.