Week 11 X-Factors, Matchups to Watch
The Cardinals effectively used an uptempo, short-passing attack against San Francisco two weeks ago, particularly during their third- and fourth-quarter comeback attempt.
One might figure this to be the same approach Kliff Kingsbury uses again, focusing heavily on the air raid-style offense Arizona has implemented over the course of 2019.
Unlike Thursday Night Football, however, the Niners should have adequate time to prepare for this approach, meaning the defensive outcome on Sunday could be vastly different than what was seen back in Week 9.
49ers Defensive Contain vs. Kyler Murray
The rushing success Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake had against San Francisco two weeks ago suggests the 49ers may crowd the box this Sunday. But that could come at the expense of softening up on the edges, which plays right into Kyler Murray’s elusiveness.
As DeForest Buckner said, previously, containing Murray to the pocket will be a key method to eliminate this element of his game.
San Francisco registered three sacks in Week 9, yet that might not be enough if Murray is allowed to extend plays outside the pocket.
Deebo Samuel vs. Cardinals Pass Defense
Likewise, Arizona might try eliminating San Francisco’s ground attack. With Matt Breida out, running back Tevin Coleman emerges as the focal point of the Niners rush attack.
But Coleman averaged only 1.9 yards per carry on 12 attempts two weeks ago, meaning the 49ers pass game will likely be called upon again to move the chains.
With Emmanuel Sanders’ status still in question, rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel suddenly emerges as a top option. Despite some drops in Week 10, Samuel still managed to finish with a career-best 112 receiving yards against Seattle.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are allowing an average of 7.2 pass yards per attempt — 27th in the league.
Justin Skule vs. Chandler Jones
Another reason why Jimmy Garoppolo had difficulty in Week 10 was due to his offensive line struggling to protect him.
In total, Garoppolo suffered five sacks in the game, and there’s another caveat to his pass protection in Week 11. With Joe Staley ruled out, rookie tackle Justin Skule is likely going to revert back to a starting role for the next couple of weeks.
One of Skule’s primary assignments will be to effectively block Cardinals EDGE Chandler Jones, who currently leads the league both with 11.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.