Here are 5 questions that 49ers fans should be looking for answers to during their week 8 match up with their NFC West Division rival Arizona Cardinals:
1) Will Greg Roman get Vernon Davis more involved?
- Vernon Davis received 0 passes in his direction in the Seattle game, setting off a debate that has now stretched to 10 days. Through the first 7 games of 2012, Davis has been targeted 34 times, an increase from the 31 he received through the same period in in 2011.
2) Can Alex Smith get back on track?
- Heading into the Giants game Smith was leading the NFL in Passer Rating. Since that time Smith has dropped to 7th entering tonight's game and has thrown 1 TD pass to go with 4 Int's. To make matters even more difficult, he will be facing an Arizona defense that is 4th in the NFL in pass defense giving up an average of only 191.3 yards per game. The 49ers need him to return to the mistake free ways that saw him throw only 5 int's in all of 2011.
3) Can the defense take advantage of the Cardinals offensive line?
- The Cardinals have given up the most sacks of any NFL team this season, 35. On the flip side the 49ers defense has accounted for only 11 sacks through the first 7 games. The 49ers need to pressure Skelton early and often to help slow down Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals receiving corps.
4) Will the running game keep going against the Arizona D?
- Although the Cardinals defense is among the best in the league at stopping the pass, they tend to struggle against the run giving up an average of 120.9 yards per game so far this season. The 49ers run game has been the strength of their offense and they will need to have big contributions from Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter if they are to win tonight.
5) How will Michael Crabtree fare against Patrick Peterson?
- Through the first 7 games of 2012 Michael Crabtree leads all 49ers in targets. Tonight he will be up against Patrick Peterson, who is widely regarded as one of the best young corners in the game. In their first matchup Crabtree dominated Peterson with 7 receptions for 120 yards. In the rematch a couple weeks later, Peterson did a much better job of containing Crabtree. Although he still allowed 7 receptions, Crabtree was only able to garner 63 yards.
This game is going to be a defensive battle. Although Arizona is very good against the pass they have not been so strong against the run, San Francisco's strength. I see the 49ers defense dominating throughout, and the offense doing just enough to get the win.
Final Score: 49ers 16 - Cardinals 6