San Francisco 49ers (2-6) vs. Arizona Cardinals (5-3)
University of Phoenix Stadium
Monday Night Football
5:30 PM (PST)
Much has happened since the 49ers and Cardinals meet in week one. Kurt Warner has found a second life in his career making the Cardinals offense realize its full potential which it could not do the last couple of years. The Cardinals are in first place at 5-3 in the worst division in the NFL which might find the 49ers in second place with a win tonight. That is not saying much for the 49ers but the Cardinals have shown the NFL they are a force to watch out for as their defense has emerged as play makers who are ranked 13th in the NFL. The 49ers enter into their second game of the Interim Singletary Era and have suffered five straight humiliating losses. Cardinals rookie RB Tim Hightower has largely taken over from Edgerin James with positive results. With the Cardinals potent running game it will be hard for the 49ers D to contain Warner and his strong receiving corps from making big plays as they will have to account for Hightower on every snap. If the 49ers LB’s can pressure Warner all game making him go to his receivers on the shorter routes the 49ers have a good chance at beating the Cardinals. The secondary needs to cause turnovers by blanketing their coverage on Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. The 49ers need all the help they can get on offense and creating turnovers by the D will give the 49ers a shorter field to score.
Shaun Hill has his chance in front of a national TV audience on Monday Night Football to make a name for himself and to stake a claim to end the 49ers QB woes. Hill has proven he can manage a football game and lead the 49ers to wins. He is 2-0 in his two starts and he has limited his mistakes in all of the games he has appeared in with the 49ers with only one INT and six passing TD’s. With two weeks to prepare for the NFC West leading Cardinals and the 49ers suffering five straight defeats, Mike Singletary and Mike Martz will be smart with their game plan with a heavy dose of running. However they realize they will need to draw up big plays to score and to give Hill the confidence, and the rest of the team, of the being the number one man under center.
The game will be close with lots offensive yards by both teams. The Cardinals D will be factor and with Hill starting his first game of the season he will make plays but expect drives to stall as they cross midfield. The 49ers need to play smash mouth football with their running game to make the Cardinals D account for Frank Gore. After the run is established the 49ers receivers will open up on the short routes. Hill is at his best when he releases the football quickly and does not hold onto it. This will also help the offensive line who have struggled this year and help David Baas and Adam Snyder who have taken over the left guard and right tackles positions on the line. The turnovers will not be completely gone but with J.T. O’Sullivan on the sidelines the 49ers will be able to drive down the field and hopefully score. I do expect the 49ers to win however if the 49ers D cannot pressure Warner and limit the big plays as they have been unable to do in almost all the games this year, then forget about any chance of the 49ers winning tonight.
Fantasy Studs of the Game:
Shaun Hill (250 yards passing, 2 TD’s)
This will be Hill’s coming out game and while he will not be stellar, he will be good enough putting up stats O’Sullivan was incapable of. He will lead the 49ers on successful drives.
Kurt Warner (265 yards passing, 2 TD’s, 1 INT)
Warner’s second coming of relevance will continue against the 49ers weak secondary that give up too many big passing plays. Expect some passing plays of 50 or more yards from either Boldin or Fitzgerald.