Thursday, October 10, 2013

Keys For 49ers Against Cardinals


The Cardinals bring an identical 3-2 record into their contest Sunday against the 49ers.  Here are 3 offensive and defensive keys to 49ers success on Sunday.

Offense:

1) Go after Jerraud Powers:  With a top level cornerback like Patrick Peterson on the other side, it makes sense that teams are taking shots at Powers.  The problem for Arizona is that Powers gets beat, repeatedly.  This is part of the reason the Cardinals have given up an average of 264.4 passing yards per game.

It's well known that the 49ers have struggled with defenses which get up in the face of the wide receivers.  In watching the Cardinals, it should be noted that Peterson is often up on the line of scrimmage taking on the oppositions top receiver.  That means we should see him matched up with Anquan Boldin all over the field on Sunday.  Look for Jon Baldwin, and Kyle Williams to make key contributions on Sunday.

2) Get the ball to Davis, and Miller:  Last week Panthers tight end Greg Olsen caught 3 passes for 50 yards on the opening possession of the game, and ended his day with 5 grabs for 79 yards.  Olsen was able to beat both Powers and Petersen early in the game, and worked well down the seam as well.  Look for Davis to be targeted often off play action while working against Tyrann Mathieu.

Bruce Miller has already been targeted on 12 pass attempts this season, after having 13 targets all last season.  In addition Miller has already matched his receiving production from last season with 82 yards on 9 receptions.  He has been a key the last 2 weeks to getting Kaepernick going with easy receptions off play action.  He opened both halves in the win at St Louis with receptions, and with Kaepernick struggling a bit on Sunday against the Texans, it was a 4 yard reception off play action that got Kaepernick going and led to a 64 yard TD throw to Davis on the next play.

3) Keep grinding it out:  The Cardinals come into the game with the #3 rushing defense in the league, giving up an average of 79 yards per game, but to this point they have not played a power running team like the 49ers.  The Cardinals have shown a weakness at defending the run on the edges.  They are a fast pursuing team, which opens up the counter trey, and wham/trap runs that the 49ers have done so well this season.

Defense: 

1)  Force the ball away from Fitzgerald:  This is a no brainer whenever playing against Arizona.  Carson Palmer has one of the lowest QB ratings in the league at 67.0, and has thrown 9 interceptions already this season while completing only 58.9% of his passes.

2)  Keep the run game down:  The Cardinals bring with them a rushing attack that has averaged only 3.5 yards per carry.  This is the 2nd lowest average of any 49ers opponent this season, better than only the Rams.  The Cardinals rushing attack is very soft, featuring a lot of draws and long developing play. Running primarily out of 11 personnel, 1 running back, and 1 tight end, will do this to a team.  Look for the 49ers defense to have another good day against the run.

3)  Offensive line woes:  The Cardinals have given up 12 sacks on the season, and still have issues up front, particularly in the middle of the line.  Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, and Glenn Dorsey should have strong days pressuring the middle of the pocket and getting into the face of Palmer, who's limited mobility makes him a sitting duck.

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