Cardinals vs. SF 49ers: 3 X-factors to determine if Niners start 1-0

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyler Murray, 49ers, Cardinals
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

With the SF 49ers hosting the Cardinals for both teams’ Week 1 season opener, Niner Noise explores three X-factors that’ll influence the game’s outcome.

In only a few days, we’ll know if the SF 49ers were able to start off their 2020 season on a good note, hoping to go up 1-0 on the year by defeating the upstart Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium in Week 1.

Based on the early odds reports, the Niners are in good company. According to The Action Network, San Francisco is a seven-point favorite over its NFC West rivals, and one might safely make the assumption Arizona is still the fourth-best team in a stacked division with the SF 49ers squarely at the top.

That said, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad had plenty of difficulty with Arizona in both games last year. In Week 9 on Halloween, it took a valiant effort by the Niners defense to stave off a late surge by quarterback Kyler Murray and the Cardinals defense to secure a 28-25 victory. Two weeks later, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hit running back Jeff Wilson Jr. for a game-winning touchdown in the waning minutes, a garbage-time score thereafter making it 45-34 in favor of San Francisco.

So to say this game will be a blowout in the 49ers’ favor is quite premature. Especially with the Cardinals landing arguably the top wide receiver in all of football during the offseason, three-time All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins.

Yet Hopkins is just one of many X-factors playing into the game, and it’ll be crucial for the Niners to game plan against him while also being wary of Murray’s ability to extend plays with his legs.

Those aren’t the only X-factors facing San Francisco in this Week 1 divisional bout. Here are three more.