The 49ers are coming off of a week 3 41-39 loss on Thursday Night Football to the LA Rams at home. The team is on a mini bye week with 10 days of rest before week 4. Their next game is in Arizona to take on the Cardinals. Arizona is coming off of a Loss on Monday Night Football to the Dallas Cowboys. Can the 49ers go into Arizona and come out with a win?
49ers will be rested
After a tough fought loss in Seattle in week 2 the 49ers only had 3 days to prepare for the new look LA Rams at Levis Stadium. 49ers fought hard against LA, but the defense looked gassed early. This week the 49ers will be rested and ready for all gas no brake with extreme violence on defense. LB Navarro Bowman spoke about how the short week effected his play last week, and it showed. I look for this 49ers defensive unit to have a big day on Sunday.
Sack the QB
49ers are one of the worst defenses in the NFL when it comes to sacking the QB. DL Deforest Buckner has been one of the best in the NFL at pressuring the QB, but just can’t seem to get the sack. The 49ers have 3 sacks on the year, and all came in week 2 at Seattle. QB Russell Wilson has been running for his life behind that Seattle offensive line so far this season. If the 49ers are going to get a win in Arizona the team is going to need to get to the QB. Someone to look out for coming off the edge is DE Aaron Lynch. He is the teams best pass rusher but has been in the dog house with the coaching staff for some reason. He needs to see more time on the field. The Cardinal offensive line has not had a great season so far, giving up 11 sacks on the season. Cardinal’s QB Carson Palmer was under pressure all game on Monday Night against the Cowboys, and the 49ers will need to do the same to avoid the big plays HC Bruce Arians offenses are known for.
Stop the run
Carson Palmer is on the down slope of his career and is known for making some bonehead plays in the past. The Cardinals offense should be running through RB David Johnson, but he is hurt and won’t play in this game. Arizona has looked to veteran RB Chris Johnson and they haven’t had a lot of success. The 49ers will want to continue this trend, and keep the ball in Palmers hands and force him to make mistakes. A one dimension offense is a lot easier to attack on defense.
Protect the QB
Pressuring the QB in the NFL is the most important thing a defense can do. This 49ers O line has had its share of struggles this season, mostly at the Guard and Center positions. In week 3 Rams DL Micheal Brockers was unstoppable. C Daniel Kilgore was routinely beaten by Brockers, causing the passing and running game to suffer. This week most of the pressure will be coming from the outside with DE Chandler Jones. The 49ers tackles this season, OL Joe Staley and OL Trent Brown, have both played very well. These two will keep Jones in check and keep QB Brian Hoyer upright so he can push the ball down field.
Run the ball
49ers RB Carlos Hyde is 3rd in the NFL in rushing with 253 yards (behind Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt with 401 and Vikings RB Dalvin Cook with 288). Hyde has been the 49ers best offensive player this season. HC Kyle Shanahan is running his offense through Hyde. He needs to get chunks of yards early and often this weekend to keep the Cardinals defense in check. Shanahan will use the pressure of the run game to get the deep passing game going. Brian Hoyer showed last week that he is capable of completing the long ball, and teams will have to respect that part of the 49ers offense.
Don’t throw an interception on the 1st play
Hoyer made one of his worst throws of the season on the 1st play of the game in week 3, and it cost the 49ers 7 points. The 49ers were chasing the Rams the rest of the day. Hoyer needs to be smarter with the ball early in games. Shanahan is going to give him some easy completions early so Hoyer can get into a rhythm.
Get WR Trent Taylor more involved
Trent Taylor only had 3 catches in week 3 (should have been 4), one being a TD. He was open a lot more than that throughout that game. He is one of the best route runners on the team and catches everything thrown his way. He will be a problem for defenses in the red zone due to his quickness and crisp route running. Look for Shanahan to get him involved a lot more going forward.
The 49ers are 0-3 on the season and will play in their 3rd consecutive division game. The NFC west is not what it used to be and is one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. The LA Rams look to be the Best team in the Division. A team at 8-8 or 9-7 could win the division and get a home playoff game. If the 49ers want to keep that hope alive, they will need to come out of Arizona with a win.