The San Francisco 49ers will try to win their third straight game as the Arizona Cardinals come to Candlestick park at 1:25 PT on FOX Sunday afternoon. Both teams have an identical 3-2 record and both teams have excelled on the defensive side of the ball and struggled on offense.
Carson Palmer has not yet performed to the team’s expectations as he has thrown nine interceptions in his first five games as the starter. The team’s struggles are not all on him as the Cardinal offense in it’s entirety has been anemic to say the least: they are ranked in the bottom third in both the passing and running games. Rashard Mendenhall has struggled running the ball in his first season with the Cardinals, registering only a 3.2 YPC average.
The 49ers look to build on their back to back wins as their heart and soul on defense, Patrick Willis, will likely be back on the field. In their past two games, San Francisco has allowed 250.5 yards and seven points per game.
Ironically, it has been the secondary that has been the strength of this year’s 49ers defense. Unlike previous years where the Niner run defense has been ranked among the league’s best, this year’s defense has had guys like Eric Reid, Tramaine Brock, and Tarell Brown step up and make plays by breaking up passes and intercepting balls.
Even though the Cardinals have proven that they can be formidable against the run, San Francisco’s offensive line must impose their will and create some early success for Frank Gore which would give Colin Kaepernick a chance to do damage with the play action pass. Look for Vernon Davis and Kyle Williams to be targeted frequently in attempts to keep the ball away from Patrick Peterson.
Player to Watch: Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick hasn’t really played well since week one. He hasn’t played terribly but he has shown that he is much better that what we are seeing through his previous success. This is the perfect game for him to explode. This game will not be nationally televised, and Kaepernick will be playing at home against a divisional rival. Maybe that’s exactly what Kaepernick needs to come up big.
X-Factor: Keeping Palmer in check
Last week Matt Schaub came to Candlestick looking to bounce back and he ended up having his worst game yet. That is exactly what the 49ers have to do to Carson Palmer. Unlike Shaub, Palmer has proven that he can put up big numbers and there is still a guy by the name of Larry Fitzgerald that can put up big numbers when the ball goes in his direction. The 49ers must not give up big plays and pressure Palmer into making mistakes like they did Shaub.
Bottome Line: It’s a trap!
This is a good old fashion trap game for the 49ers. Arizona’s defense is for real and they will pressure and make it an ugly game for San Francisco and essentially it’s the only way they can stay in the game. I see this game being very physical and both offenses struggling to move the ball. Patrick Peterson and Anquan Boldin will need to be separated on more than one occasion and both quarterbacks will be pressured consistently. Colin Kaepernick will handle the pressure a bit better and make a big play or two while on the run. The 49ers win a very tough game at home against the Cardinals
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