For the past several seasons, the Arizona Cardinals have resided in the NFL’s toughest division. Things may change in that regard sometime in the future, but everything should certainly remain the same in 2021. Arizona’s week-five matchup could prove to be a prime example of how difficult life can be in the ultra-competitive NFC West.
Exactly seven days after a clash with another divisional rival (Los Angeles Rams), the Cards will play host to a talented San Francisco 49ers squad. The Niners head coach, Kyle Shanahan, leads a group that presents a challenge on both sides of the ball. State Farm Stadium will be the site for what should be an exciting battle between the two franchises on October 10th.
San Francisco’s projected starter at the quarterback spot is Jimmy Garoppolo, a veteran who’s entering his eighth professional campaign. Waiting in the wings for that job is Trey Lance, a rookie who was the third-overall selection of last month’s draft. A strong 49ers running game is led by Raheem Mostert, with Jeff Wilson and free-agent addition Wayne Gallman providing depth in the team’s backfield.
The starters at wide receiver are youngsters Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, with experienced newcomer Mohamed Sanu coming aboard to mentor the wide-eyed pass-catchers. George Kittle, an absolute stud, handles the tight end duties for the offense. San Francisco’s offensive line is anchored by newly-signed center Alex Mack, with the outstanding Trent Williams protecting Garoppolo’s blindside at left tackle.
Three first-round draft choices, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw have found a home on the 49ers defensive line. Linebacker Fred Warner, a bona fide tackling machine, was voted First-team All-Pro following the 2020 season. Safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are fixtures in the organization’s secondary, while the scrappy Jason Verrett is situated at one of the cornerback posts.
The youthful Shanahan presides over a San Francisco roster that’s peppered with outstanding football players. Cards head coach Kliff Kingsbury is outcoached in a nailbiter that is decided by a late Robbie Gould field goal. 49ers 26, Cardinals 23.