The San Francisco 49ers host the winless Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, but keeping quarterback C.J. Beathard upright will be a major focus for the Niners if they want to pull out the win.
The 1-3 San Francisco 49ers play hosts to the winless Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, which certainly has the feeling of being a completely one-sided affair from the Niners’ perspective.
Refreshing, especially considering head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co.’s narrow 29-27 Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last week.
Arizona ranks at or near the bottom, statistically, in nearly every offensive category. Last in scoring, last in total yardage, next to last in passing yards and next to last in rushing.
That last stat is hard to fathom, particularly with running back David Johnson the Cardinals’ top offensive threat.
Despite all the issues for Cardinals first-year head coach Steve Wilks, his defense is still dangerous enough to turn this game into an upset. From a stat perspective, the Cardinals have allowed 94 total points and 1,508 all-purpose yards — roughly middle of the pack in each category.
While the 49ers defense has been the main culprit behind the team’s problems thus far, Shanahan’s offense can’t afford to take what the Cardinals do, defensively, lightly.
And it all starts with keeping quarterback C.J. Beathard protected.
Beathard was sacked just once during his first start of the season last week. But he also took a whopping nine quarterback hits. With the season all but awash following the year-ending ACL injury suffered by franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Beathard is now the next biggest asset the 49ers can ill afford to lose.
Despite all the problems Arizona is having on the season, getting after the quarterback hasn’t been one of them.
The Cardinals have 10 sacks on the season, which is tied for 12th in the NFL through four weeks. To put things into perspective, that’s the same number of sacks the vaunted Jacksonville Jaguars have over the same span.
EDGE Chandler Jones remains the Cardinals’ top pass-rushing threat, already registering three sacks on the year and acting as a dangerous piece on the weak side of Arizona’s defensive front.
But fellow end Benson Mayowa, who is more of just a situational pass-rusher at this point, might be the bigger threat. According to Pro Football Focus, his 70.5 pass-rushing grade on the season is notably higher than Jones’ 52.6 mark.
Signs are pointing to the Niners having to start swing tackle Garry Gilliam at the left side. Gilliam has already allowed a sack and six hurries on 53 pass-blocking snaps, per PFF. And if McGlinchey isn’t able to go, San Francisco would be forced to start either second-year pro Erik Magnuson or the recently acquired Shon Coleman, who has yet to be active since the 49ers acquired him from the Cleveland Browns earlier this season.
A shorthanded 49ers O-line doesn’t bode well for Beathard, especially since the bulk of Arizona’s defensive prowess is still within the front seven.
That said, Beathard and the offense can still manage to execute an effective offense over the course of the game, especially if the Cardinals’ inept offense is unable to garner any sort of momentum, thereby tiring out their own defense as the game moves along.
As long as Beathard stays upright, though.
The 49ers and Cardinals kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 7 from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe
to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.