Arizona Cardinals vs San Francisco 49ers: Five Questions with Niner Noise


The Arizona Cardinals host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium

The Arizona Cardinals play their first NFC West divisional game on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.  It is the first of two consecutive NFC West games for the Cardinals as they bring their 2-0 record into the contest.  The 49ers are currently 1-1.

I had a chance to talk football with the editor of FanSided’s 49er’s site Niner Noise, Douglas Totten.  I asked him several questions about this week’s contest and try to get to know the 2015 49ers a little more with all of the changes they have seen on both sides of the ball.

RZ: The 49ers have lost a lot of players either due to retirement or free agency. Over the long haul do think the 49ers can overcome the losses and still have a successful 2015 season?

NN: If your definition of success is a Super Bowl win, then the 49ers will not succeed. A winning season is definitely possible, however, and the playoffs are not even that far out of reach. Yes, the 49ers lost a lot, but what is severely underrated is the amount of depth that the 49ers had at most of those positions (right tackle and cornerback excepted). These young guys will get the hang of it soon enough.

RZ: Carlos Hyde looked like a beast in week one against the Vikings. Obviously he didn’t do as well in week two against the Steelers but that was due to concern over a possible concussion. Is he going to be available to play this Sunday and if so what kind of production do you expect out of him?

NN: All signs point towards Hyde playing Sunday. Hyde did pass concussion protocol, but was kept out of the rest of last week’s game since, well, the 49ers were having the crap beat out of them. The 49ers will want to lean on him early and often. Though I think it will be essential to get the passing game going for Kaepernick, expect 20+ runs easily from Hyde barring another injury.

RZ: How has head coach Jim Tomsula changed the culture in what was widely considered by many outside of the bay area a dysfunctional locker room last season or has he been able to change the culture at all?

NN: The culture is completely different. Whereas last year tension was everywhere — the locker room, the sideline, the front office — this year everyone seems to be having fun and getting along relatively well, while still working very hard. Part of the problem last year was a row between Jed York and Jim Harbaugh over which locker room to use for practice — the one at the practice facility or at the fancy new Levi’s Stadium next door. To settle the dispute, players were able to use whichever locker room they preferred. This was obviously not good for team chemistry and is not the case this year (everyone is in Levi’s).

RZ: Who is the one player Cardinals fans might not know much about that should keep their eyes on this Sunday?

NN: I’ll give you one on offense and one on defense. On offense, keep your eyes out for Quinton Patton. He has consistently improved over his time with the 49ers and should get some chances on Sunday, depending on the offensive game plan. On the 49ers defense, look out for safety Jaquiski Tartt. The second-round draft pick has been incredibly impressive thus far in training camp up to now and sees a lot of action in nickel and dime packages.

RZ: How do you see this one playing out? What is your prediction for the game and a final score?

NN: This is a tough one to predict, and a lot may depend on which 49ers team comes out to play — the one that demolished the Vikings or the one that was embarrassed by the Steelers. The 49ers will do whatever they can to get to Carson Palmer and disrupt his rhythm. I think they will succeed to some extent and put an end to the Cardinals sackless streak, but I don’t think it will be enough.

I’m going to call this one for the Cardinals in a tough battle 24-20.