Arizona Cardinals: Ranking Arizona’s 3 Hardest Games of 2013

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2. Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, October 13

November 13, 2011; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis (52) is congratulated by defensive end Justin Smith (top, third from right) and inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) after Willis sacked New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (bottom) during the third quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Giants 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals have not won at Candlestick Park since the 2008 season opener, and they haven’t even been competitive against the 49ers since 2008.

The 49ers have one of the very best rosters from top to bottom in the NFL. The front seven of this defense is the nucleus of this team as they consistently stop the run and get after the quarterback which allows their secondary to be aggressive and make plays. On offense the 49ers have one of the most balanced attacks in the NFL. The 49ers can run the ball from multiple formations and can also run the read option offense with dynamic quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Defending Kaepernick is the key for the Cardinals defense, they have to be able to contain Kaepernick and make him beat them from the pocket. Blitzing the young quarterback would not be wise, the last thing you want when defending a quarterback like Kaepernick is having your defensive backs turning their backs to the quarterback and allowing running lanes to open.

On offense the Cardinals cannot get pushed around in the trenches, they have to make the 49ers defense respect the run and be able to run play action off the run game. The addition of Jonathan Cooper and the return of Levi Brown could certainly help the Cardinals in this regard. If the Cardinals can run the ball and protect Carson Palmer they will give their wide outs the opportunity to win against the 49ers defensive backs and make plays down the field.

If the Cardinals can contain the 49ers offense and have some success on the ground they have a chance to win this game.