No. 5: Getting the Most out of the Running Game
Neither C.J. Beathard nor Drew Stanton should be asked to carry their respective offenses during this contest, which puts an increased burden on both teams’ rushing attacks.
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Especially with Niners’ No. 1 wide receiver Pierre Garçon (neck) landing on season-ending injured reserve.
The 49ers have an edge here, although it’s one head coach Kyle Shanahan will need to exploit. Arizona’s boasts a middle-of-the-pack run defense this season — averaging 105.9 rush yards against per game, which is good for 14th in the NFL.
Niners No. 1 running back Carlos Hyde is averaging 4.0 yards per carry this season but hasn’t exactly fared well against the Cardinals over his career. In five games, the 27-year-old Hyde is averaging only 3.25 yards per carry against Arizona.
On the flip side, though, the Cardinals’ ground game had been atrocious without David Johnson (wrist), who is also on IR. Arizona did pick up veteran tailback Adrian Peterson prior to Week 6, and he’s averaging 4.2 yards per carry with his new team.
A key player to watch for the 49ers here is linebacker Reuben Foster (ribs), who is still listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest.