Week 4 Preview : 49ers vs Cardinals Q & A

The San Francisco 49ers (0-3) are ready to get back to work after an extra few days rest following a tough 41-39 Week 3 loss to NFC West division rival Los Angeles Rams last Thursday night. And while still in search of their first win of the season, this young 49ers team will have to find a way to limit the mental errors which have plagued them throughout the first three weeks of the NFL season. Despite all the inconsistency the 49ers have endured, the previous two games have shown that this team will fight hard to the very end on both sides of the ball.

The 49ers will hit the road this week to take on another division foe in the Arizona Cardinals (1-2) on Sunday.  The Cardinals are coming off a 28-17 Monday night home loss to the Dallas Cowboys and are already in must-win mode so not to fall behind in a seemingly wide open NFC West. As they get ready to go against a 49ers team that is only getting better game-by-game, here is a Q & A session on what to expect in this divisional matchup.

Will Brian Hoyer Build Off Last Week’s Performance?

After only scoring a combined 25 points through the first 10 quarters of the season, the 49ers offense finally came to life by scoring 26 total points during the second half against the Rams last Thursday. And after throwing a near pick-six on the very first play of the game, 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer would settle down and have his best game of the year so far by passing for 332 yards and two touchdowns. Hoyer did a good job getting everyone in the offense involved by hitting nine different receivers. If Hoyer can continue to get comfortable on the field along with some gold protection from a struggling 49ers offensive line, wide receivers such as Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin will be huge factors down the stretch.

Can 49ers Defensive Front Seven Get After Carson Palmer? 

The 49ers as a defense have only three sacks in as many games and all of them came against the Seattle Seahawks Week 2. And with defensive end Tank Carradine being placed on injured reserve (could return in Week 12), look for rookie third-overall pick Solomon Thomas to play a bigger role on the defensive front. The 49ers front seven face a Cardinals offensive line that has had their own issues by surrendering 11 sacks through three games (six last Monday night against the Cowboys.) The 49ers will look the replicate what Dallas did and make it a long day for Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.

Can 49ers Running Backs Find Lanes Against Cardinals?

The 49ers rushing attack led by running backs Carlos Hyde and rookie Matt Breida has been a strength for the offense, with both runners averaging over 5.0 yard per carry. But that will be put to the test against an Arizona defense that has allowed only 3.1 yards per carry this year.  Both Hyde and Breida have complimented one another very well, but their jobs will get a lot easier this Sunday if the 49ers offensive line can hold their own by limiting defensive penetration.

What’s Up With NaVorro Bowman? 

Coming back from an Achilles injury like linebacker NaVorro Bowman suffered last season is never easy, as is the case with four-time All-Pro. Bowman has had a difficult time this season with missed tackles and switching directions which showed against the Rams last Thursday. There’s no doubt that Bowman continues to be the heart and soul of the entire 49ers defense, but to expect the eight-year veteran to return to his prime at this stage of his career would be a reach. Nonetheless, Bowman’s value to the team is not diminished and will still continue to be an important piece to San Francisco’s defense.

Will 49ers Secondary Stand Toe-to-Toe with Larry Fitzgerald and Co.?

With future Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald leading the way, the 49ers defensive backs will have to play their absolute best against a dangerous Cardinals receiving corps. Through three games, Fitzgerald already has 22 receptions for 244 yards with a touchdown and is being complimented very well in the passing game with wide receiver J.J. Nelson and even running back Andre Ellington contributing. This is a very inexperienced 49ers secondary that Palmer is facing, and this unit will be tested plenty of times if the San Francisco front seven can not generate any quarterback pressure during the game.

Can the 49ers Steal One From Arizona?

The term “Any Given Sunday” holds a lot of merit…just ask the Chicago Bears after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. And the 49ers have shown fans that for 60 minutes the team will play hardnosed football. But for a win to be obtained in Arizona on Sunday, the 49ers need to stop being their own worst enemy and match the Cardinals with everything that is thrown their way. Turnovers and ill-advised penalties have been the 49ers undoing all season so they must find a way to play cohesively as a team and start out strong. If the 49ers can take everything that Arizona brings their way and play sound ball, then this game is very winnable.

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