Behind Enemy Lines: Cardinals get second crack at 49ers, winning
Cue up the Spiderman pointing at Spiderman memes.
The 1-6 Arizona Cardinals host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, and the two teams find themselves in a three-way tie with the New York Giants for the worst record in the NFL. Of course, Arizona’s only victory came against San Francisco three weeks back, and coach Steve Wilks’ team needed a plus-five turnover differential to squeeze out a 28-18 win.
The 49ers’ winning drought dates back to Week 2, when they beat the Detroit Lions, 30-27. Since, they’ve lost to the Cardinals and four playoff contenders — Kansas City, the Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay and the Los Angeles Rams.
Will the Niners solve their turnover woes at State Farm Stadium? Where will they attack an Arizona team dealing with a Patrick Peterson trade request, injuries at safety and offensive line, and adjusting to a new offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich?
Let’s go behind enemy lines to find out.
Saturday, October 27
• 49ers rule out Pierre Garcon vs. Cardinals (ESPN NFL Nation)
San Francisco 49ers receiver Pierre Garcon will miss Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals because of injuries to his shoulder and knee.
The 49ers said Saturday that Garcon had been downgraded from doubtful to out for the game at Arizona.
The San Francisco 49ers have been dealing with all sorts of issues in 2018 that have put them on the floors of mediocrity. One of the unsung achievements has been the improvement of the offensive line. Against the Los Angeles Rams they had a chance to make a huge statement and squandered the opportunity, but they are no long bottom of the barrell. Part of this is the excellent play of rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who after seven weeks is now the highest rated rookie offensive lineman per Pro Football Focus.
• 2 reasons Arizona will win, 2 reasons Arizona will lose in Week 8 (NinersNation.com)
The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals square off on Sunday. Both teams could really use a win for locker room morale, but both teams could use a loss for draft pick purposes. Take your pick for what you’re rooting for!
• No last-minute 49ers roster transactions before Cardinals (NinersNation.com)
The San Francisco 49ers are set to take on the Arizona Cardinals Sunday and are still dealing with numerous roster issues. One thing that will not be happening is the now-anticipated habit of playing musical chairs with the roster. The team has not announced any last-minute roster transactions in lieu of the deadline.
• The 49ers will win/lose against the Cardinals if… (NinersNation.com)
Remember when the Arizona Cardinals were a pick-me-up? Now fans want a San Francisco 49ers win. Any sort of win. And to not lose to one of the worst teams in the NFL.
The 49ers are not one of the worst teams in the NFL. Underachieving and below average, but not one of the worst. They just make dumb mistakes that cost them dearly. If they can limit those mistakes and actually not fall apart in the first quarter, they can beat the Cardinals with little trouble.
• Being swept by Cardinals would not bode well for 49ers (SFChronicle.com)
The 49ers, owners of a 1-6 record, can blame injuries and a rugged early schedule for some of their miserable season.
But there would be zero excuse for being swept by the Arizona Cardinals this year.
On Sunday, three weeks after an unsightly home loss to the lowly Cardinals, the 49ers will hope to avoid further humiliation in the rematch at State Farm Stadium.
The 49ers received some good news Friday with the returns of cornerback Richard Sherman and running back Matt Breida to practice, which indicates they’re on track to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, though both are officially listed as questionable.
Here are five things to watch when the 49ers (1-6) travel to play the Arizona Cardinals (1-6) to determine last place in the NFC West on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.
Friday, October 26
• Jimmy Garoppolo: Dwelled on the play, ACL tear but have moved on (ESPN NFL Nation)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo acknowledged Friday that in the days after tearing his ACL, he spent plenty of time replaying that situation, as well as others before it, in his head before soon coming to a point of acceptance and moving on.
• Want to win the offseason? 49ers must find difference-making talent (ESPN NFL Nation)
While the San Francisco 49ers and general manager John Lynch are keeping their phone lines open and would be happy to land another franchise cornerstone, like quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, at next week’s trade deadline, chances are, such a deal won’t fall in their laps two years in a row.
• 49ers Linebacker Foster Hasn’t Been the Same Player in Second Season (NBCBayArea.com)
A year ago, Reuben Foster was one of the best rookies in the NFL.
This year, however, Foster has not been the same linebacker.
Thursday, October 25
• Looking at the 7 sacks allowed by the 49ers vs. the Rams (NinersNation.com)
49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard was sacked seven times for a loss of 49 yards.
He threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fumble. It was as ugly as ugly gets.
• 49ers’ Richard Sherman says he could miss one of next two games (SFChronicle.com)
On Thursday, Richard Sherman said he’s “pretty sure” he can play Sunday against the Cardinals with a calf injury that’s caused him to miss two of the past four games.
However, the Pro Bowl cornerback is far less certain he will be able to recover in time to play the following week. Four days after playing Arizona, the 49ers will host the Raiders on Nov. 1.
• 49ers’ Foster says 2018 performance tied to pain in right shoulder (SFChronicle.com)
Reuben Foster hasn’t looked right this season.
And his right shoulder has something to do with his performance.
Veteran receiver Pierre Garçon has been battling knee and shoulder injuries in recent weeks which will likely lead to him sitting out Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday.
The San Francisco 49ers have some decisions to make for this year and the future, but for now it sounds like cornerback Richard Sherman is sticking around. Sherman met with the media on Thursday and when asked if the team had approached him about a trade, he said no.
Earlier in the week, Sherman told The Athletic’s David Lombardi that the 49ers were “honest and upfront” with him about the long term plan and 2018 not being an all-in year.
• Robert Saleh talks Cardinals OC, Reuben Foster injury & practice performance (NinersNation.com)
The 49ers defensive coordinator met with the media on Thursday.
We’ve got a full transcript.
It appears 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis is ready to start a new streak.
On Wednesday, the rookie second-round pick spoke optimistically about potentially returning from a knee injury to play Sunday at Arizona. Pettis has missed the past three games, and standing on the sideline was an odd feeling.
Wednesday, October 24
• Catch this: One NFL player outproducing 49ers WR corps (SFChronicle.com)
On Sunday, Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen had more catches and yards in a win over the Jets than the 49ers’ wide-receiver corps did in a loss to the Rams.
After seven games, Thielen (67 receptions, 822 yards) is outproducing the 49ers’ wideouts (64, 798), who are on pace to have 24 fewer yards than Jerry Rice did in his 1,848-yard season in 1995.
The 49ers statistically dominated the previous matchup, outperforming the Cardinals in total yards (447-220), first downs (33-10), third down conversions (10-2), offensive plays (92-49), rushing yards (147-56) and time of possession (40:12-19:48). However, San Francisco’s season-high five turnovers ultimately led to its demise.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will take the week of practice to decide who will replace Adrian Colbert as the starting free safety for Sunday’s road game against the Arizona Cardinals.
It appears the competition will be between rookie D.J. Reed Jr. and Jimmie Ward, who was back on the practice field Wednesday after missing the last game against the Los Angeles Rams with a hamstring injury. Colbert was placed on injured reserve Monday with a right high ankle sprain.
• Injuries could shake up special teams on 49ers depth chart (NinersNation.com)
This is entirely unofficial, but it does give us one notable talking point. D.J. Reed is now listed as the starting free safety, as one would expect with Colbert’s injury. What I found interesting was the decision to move him from No. 1 kick returner to No. 2 kick returner. Rookie Richie James has replaced him in the No. 1 spot.
Such a change on an unofficial depth chart could mean nothing, but given that Reed is getting first crack at the starting free safety job, it would make sense that the coaching staff would prefer to keep him out of a high impact special teams position like kick returner.
• Is Robert Saleh’s seat hotter after 49ers-Rams? (NinersNation.com)
This is not like previous weeks where we can look to Saleh and say WTH? This was bad football, from a bad football team, and we should feel bad for even talking about how bad this bad game was.
Still, only two sacks versus seven (four of which were by one dude) and zero turnovers. That’s your defensive highlights. Two sacks and no turnovers. Two sacks against one of the better offensive lines in the league isn’t a horrible margin, but the 49ers have again failed at getting a turnover.
Tuesday, October 23
• 49ers could be deadline buyers, under right circumstances (SFChronicle.com)
After aggressively trying to trade for pass-rusher Khalil Mack and exploring a deal for wide receiver Josh Gordon this season, it’s possible the 49ers could make news around the NFL’s trade deadline for a second straight season.
“Everyone would love a quick fix right now,” Shanahan said. “I know I would, I know our players would, I know John and the personnel staff would. But, it’s not just about a quick fix. We’re dedicated to try to win this Sunday. But, we’re also not going to just do something that makes us feel better today that hurts us for the future.”
Injuries and turnovers have been the most glaring themes to the season. Losing Garoppolo and $30-million running back Jerick McKinnon for the year dramatically changed the plan.
But the 49ers have also seen key young players regress in their development. The 2017 draft class that showed promise during the five-game winning streak last season isn’t living up to the hype, save for tight end George Kittle.
No. 3 overall draft pick Solomon Thomas doesn’t have a sack this season and hasn’t helped the team’s lackluster pass rush. Linebacker Reuben Foster started the year suspended and hasn’t been nearly as effective as he was late last year, when he was playing like one of the NFL’s premier inside linebackers. He missed three tackles Sunday and made just one, according to Pro Football Focus. The scouting service says Foster leads the team with 12 missed tackles.
• 49ers place Adrian Colbert on injured reserve with high ankle sprain (ESPN NFL Nation)
Now, just seven weeks into Colbert’s first year as the full-time starter, Colbert’s season is almost certainly over. On Monday, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said the team is placing Colbert on injured reserve with a high right-ankle sprain, an injury he suffered in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Shanahan said Colbert is expected to miss six to eight weeks, and though that time frame would allow the possibility for Colbert to be one of the team’s short-term injured reserve candidates, Shanahan said the 25-year-old would “probably not” come back this season.
The Niners re-signed quarterback Tom Savage to take Colbert’s spot on the roster.
• 49ers’ faults are nearly too numerous to count (SFGate.com)
After two of the 49ers’ first three possessions ended in lost fumbles, this exchange might have taken place on the sidelines:
Head coach Kyle Shanahan: “Guys, we can’t keep turning the ball over this way.”
Player: “Don’t worry, Coach, we’ll come up with new ways.”
And they did. On their next drive, Beathard fumbled but recovered, then he was sacked, forcing a punt, then the Rams blocked the punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
On the 49ers’ next possession, Beathard fumbled while diving to the turf on a scramble, but there’s a new rule this season that a quarterback dive in the open field is the same as a slide, so it was no fumble. On the next play, Beathard threw an interception. By the way, on that non-fumble fumble, Beathard lost the ball without being touched.
• 49ers aftermath: How they’re responding Monday to Rams rout (MercuryNews.com)
Shanahan is steadfast that C.J. Beathard is his starting quarterback, so much so that Nick Mullens won’t be getting more than the eight practice reps he typically gets each week with the starting offense.
“No, no, definitely not,” Shanahan said of Mullens’ reps. “If we had a minor-league system, I’d love to give Nick reps and all our backups reps to challenge and prepare them. That’s not how this league works.”
Shanahan didn’t condone Beathard’s turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble), but he did note how Beathard’s first interception came after he avoided a sack before throwing a late pass to Marquise Goodwin.
“We’ve had 18 turnovers this year and I’ve watched every single one, definitely more than once,” Shanahan said. “I recommend you guys do it, too. You’ll see there’s a lot of people involved in each one.”
• Re-visiting the 49ers’ keys to a victory after a blowout loss (NinersNation.com)
Wideout Marquise Goodwin stepped up against the Packers, but disappeared against the Rams. After being targeted five times, Goodwin only came up with two catches for 24 yards. That’s not good enough — especially, if the 49ers want to defeat good teams.