Behind Enemy Lines: Arizona Cardinals look to bounce back against 49ers

Oct 1, 2017, 10:05 AM
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The Arizona Cardinals may have dominated the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys Monday night, but the offensive line could not protect Carson Palmer.

The special teams unit gave the Cowboys a short field, and Dallas made enough big plays to beat the Cardinals, 28-17, in Arizona’s home opener.

Since 1990 only 24.4 percent of teams that started 1-2 made the playoffs according to ESPN. The good news for the Cardinals is the NFC West is still up for grabs. The Los Angeles Rams are 2-1 but the Seattle Seahawks, the team most thought would win the division, are sitting at 1-2.

The Cardinals know the sky is not falling. But to make fans feel better for at least one week, head coach Bruce Arians and company will likely need a dominating performance against the winless San Francisco 49ers this Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

All week, we’ll take you to San Francisco to give you an inside look at the story lines and players surrounding the divisional showdown between the 49ers and Cardinals.

It’s Behind Enemy Lines.

Saturday, September 30

• Sources: Carlos Hyde to test hip pregame, expects to play Sunday (ESPN Nation)

San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde, listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Arizona, expects to play against the Cardinals but will first test his injured hip pregame, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

• Fitz and Friends: 49ers rookies eager to meet receiver (SF Gate)

The 49ers feature three rookie wideouts who were in early elementary school when Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald arrived in the NFL 13 years, 1,147 catches and 14,633 yards ago.

• Defensive bounce back, especially in pass-rush, key for 49ers in Arizona (ESPN Nation)

On the heels of a short week, the Niners defense struggled mightily against the Rams last week. Though they didn’t want to make any excuses for allowing the Rams to hang 41 points on them, the 49ers looked forward to having a little extra time off before this week’s game against Arizona. In order to win in the desert, they’ll need a defensive bounce back, particularly from the front four.

• Brian Hoyer’s career as a starting quarterback began with Cardinals (ESPN Nation)

Hoyer made his first NFL start in that Week 17 game against the San Francisco 49ers. It had taken him four seasons to get to there.

On Sunday, his career will come full circle when he visits the Cardinals as the 49ers’ starting quarterback.

• Marquise Goodwin Eager to Prove 39 Points in Week 3 was Just the Beginning (

“It’s always good to do your job. That’s what it boils down to,” Goodwin said. “I look forward to building off of what we had last week and keeping it going. We’re ready.”

• 49ers’ Elvis Dumervil looking to rack up 100th sack (SF Gate)

Dumervil, 33, has been doing it so well, for so long, that his sack sheet includes 48 quarterbacks. The laundry list features old Eagles (Donovan McNabb), young Eagles (Carson Wentz) and mid-career Eagles whom Dumervil sacked when they were Steelers (Michael Vick).

Friday, September 29

49ers’ defense eager to atone for last performance (SF Gate)

“I cannot wait,” Saleh said Thursday, “I cannot wait for Sunday to see what we’re made of.”

Yes, Saleh and the 49ers are quite eager to visit the Cardinals, a game that will take place 10 long days after they followed two promising season-opening performances with a stinker.

Keeping it real: Kyle Shanahan, Bruce Arians earn players’ respect with unrelenting honesty (ESPN Nation)

Although it was almost exactly five years ago to the day, Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea still vividly remembers his first taste of coach Bruce Arians’ brutal honesty.

49ers Sign CB K’Waun Williams to Three-year Contract Extension (

“Since joining us this offseason, K’Waun has displayed every trait and characteristic we want to see from our players,” said 49ers General Manager John Lynch. “He is a tremendous competitor on the field and a true professional in our building. K’Waun has continued to get better and better every day and we wanted to ensure he would be a part of what we are building moving forward. I am really excited for both him and our team.”

DeForest Buckner ‘dominating’ but still seeking that extra step (ESPN Nation)

The traditional metrics found in a regular NFL boxscore might not show it but San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner has been one of the league’s best interior players through the first three weeks of the season.

Carlos Hyde ranks third in NFL in rushing, listed as limited through two Week 4 practices (Niners Nation)

The San Francisco 49ers released their Thursday practice participation report yesterday afternoon, and running back Carlos Hyde was again listed as limited. He suffered a hip injury last Thursday, and while he did leave the game, he would eventually return. He will likely be listed as questionable on Friday’s final injury report, but it is hard to see him sitting this weekend.

Thursday, September 28

• Eric Reid: 49ers plan to do ‘something together’ during national anthem (SF Gate)

During the 49ers’ first three regular-season games, safety Eric Reid has been the lone player to kneel during the national anthem.

On Sunday, it’s expected that Reid will join his teammates in a show of unity during the anthem before the 49ers’ meeting against the Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. That doesn’t necessarily mean Reid won’t kneel, but the 49ers plan to show solidarity after their 12-man leadership council met with head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch this week in the aftermath of President Trump’s angry comments about protesting NFL players.

• Kyle Shanahan: Longtime 49ers nemesis Larry Fitzgerald is ‘still great’ (ESPN NFL Nation)

No wide receiver in the history of the NFL has been more of a thorn in the side of the San Francisco 49ers than the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald.

In 26 career games against the Niners, Fitzgerald has 2,067 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns, both of which represent the highest total by a player against the 49ers in league history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

• Bruce Arians: 49ers’ offense has familiar feel under Kyle Shanahan (SF Gate)

The winless 49ers’ record isn’t reminiscent of their recent glory days, but they’ve got this going for them: Their offense is similar to how it looked when they were winning under Jim Harbaugh.

At least that’s the opinion of Arizona head coach Bruce Arians, a two-time NFL Coach of the Year who shares an offensive bent with Harbaugh and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Arians said Shanahan has been successful because he isn’t married to a certain scheme.

• 49ers vs. Cardinals: 5 key matchups to watch for San Francisco (Niner Noise)

Whoever wins or loses will largely be determined by which players execute better and come up with the big play at the right time.

For those factors to go the Niners’ way, the team will have to win a number of one-on-one matchups this Sunday.

• PFF lists Elvis Dumervil as 49ers ‘secret weapon’ (Niners Nation)

Dumervil could be a key cog this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals. The Arizona run game is struggling in a big way, which could mean significantly more passing down situations. The 49ers need to get pressure on Palmer, as he has struggled under pressure this year. If the 49ers can get anything close to consistent pressure on Palmer, they might have a chance to spring an upset in the desert.


Wednesday, September 27

On the road: 49ers bracing for exhausting October (

Their odyssey begins Sunday in the Southwest (at Arizona) before they move to the Midwest (at Indianapolis on Oct. 8) and finish on the East Coast (at Washington on Oct. 15).

That’s nearly 10,000-miles-in-16-days journey that will mark the first time they’ve played three straight regular-season road games since 2005.

49ers place DT Carradine on IR (

The 49ers placed Carradine, 27, on injured reserve today after he sustained a high ankle sprain in last week’s loss to the Rams.

Carradine is a likely candidate for short-term IR, meaning he could return this season but he must be sidelined for the next eight weeks.

For 49ers, learning how to win can only come from doing it (ESPN NFL Nation)

Although there’s little doubt that coach Kyle Shanahan has been frustrated by his team’s 0-3 start, he hasn’t altered his approach. To this point, the most angry he’s been publicly after a game was after a five-turnover performance in the second preseason game against Denver.

Brian Hoyer’s approach won’t change after much-needed productive game (ESPN NFL Nation)

To say that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer needed to take a big step forward in last week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams would qualify as a major understatement.

Injuries are primary concern for 49ers on expiring contracts (Niners Nation)

The San Francisco 49ers have some notable players hitting free agency at the end of this season, and many of those players have injuries as their primary concern. I’m not sure who the 49ers will choose to extend before the season is over, but injuries have to be a large factor in those conversations.

49ers Q&A: Who’s the priority for a contract extension? (Sacramento Bee)

Do they wait till after the season to start extension work and who do they try to extend? Tartt looks incredible might be tough for Reid.

Tuesday, September 26

• 49ers Release Unofficial Week 4 Depth Chart (

The San Francisco 49ers communications staff released an updated unofficial depth chart for the team’s Week 4 road game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Reuben Foster, Eric Reid unlikely to return from injury this week (ESPN NFL Nation)

So could Foster return as soon as this week against Arizona?

“Not right now,” Shanahan said. “I’d be shocked if he came back this week. I’d be surprised. We’re taking it week-to-week. I’m not really expecting him this week, but you never know with some of these athletes. He might be there, but not expecting it right now.”

The same goes for safety Eric Reid, who is dealing with a posterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee.

• 7 Takeaways: Rams 41 – 49ers 39 in Week 3 (

The San Francisco 49ers fell to 0-3 on the season following a 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on “Thursday Night Football”. San Francisco nearly overcame a nightmare start, but the comeback fell just short.

Here are the top takeaways from Week 3. (Let’s be honest, where do you even begin after a game like that?)

• Brian Hoyer Overcomes Early Adversity, Posts Huge Numbers vs. Rams (

Hoyer finished with 332 passing yards, the second-highest single-game total of his career. He added two touchdowns through the air and the one rushing score. That’s an impressive recovery after a nightmare start on the game’s first play.

• 49ers Sign LB Mark Nzeocha, Place DL Tank Carradine on IR (

The San Francisco 49ers announced on Monday that they have signed linebacker Mark Nzeocha (nuh-ZAH-chuh) from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad to a one-year deal. In order to make room on the roster, the team has placed defensive lineman Tank Carradine on the Injured Reserve List.

Faith behind Eric Reid’s decision to kneel during anthem (San Francisco Chronicle)

His son was at the forefront of the NFL movement that mushroomed Sunday, but Eric Reid Sr. wasn’t watching as more than 200 players silently protested during the national anthem to shed light on racial injustice in America.

Instead, Reid Sr., the father of 49ers safety Eric Reid, was delivering words from the Bible. He did so as players across the league knelt, sat or raised a fist, inspired to protest by President Trump’s angry words delivered Friday.

• 49ers want pressure from defensive line full of first-round picks (San Francisco Chronicle)

The 49ers? They have three sacks. As a team. After three games.

Yes, the pass rush has been a problem.

“It wasn’t good enough, you know?” head coach Kyle Shanahan said.

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