Cardinals vs. SF 49ers: 3 biggest concerns for Kyle Shanahan in Week 1
By Peter Panacy
No. 1: SF 49ers Limiting DeAndre Hopkins
The offseason addition of DeAndre Hopkins turned the Cardinals from a rebuilding squad into a legitimate dark-horse postseason contender. And while he won’t be the sole reason Arizona sneaks into the playoffs, assuming it does, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned from San Francisco’s vantage point.
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Hopkins, a three-time first-team All-Pro in each of the last three seasons, is perhaps the biggest receiving threat the 49ers will face this year, and getting to do so twice will test just how good the team’s pass defense will be after ranking No. 1 against it last season.
Arizona will likely not want to line Hopkins up on the right side of its formation, instead electing to place him on the weak side and on the opposite side of the field from the Niners’ top boundary cornerback, Richard Sherman.
Currently, at least until we know more in Week 1, San Francisco has yet to announce who’ll be the starter opposite Sherman. The likeliest of candidates appears to be the player the SF 49ers started here during both the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, with veterans Jason Verrett and Ahkello Witherspoon serving as depth.
Still, defending Hopkins is going to be a key challenge for Moseley, who despite his upside, will be facing an offensive weapon fully capable of taking over a game at any moment.
The 49ers and Cardinals kick off on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 4:25 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium.