Cardinals vs. SF 49ers: Breaking down Niners offensive game plan

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, SF 49ers
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

With Week 1 of the SF 49ers season nearly here, Niner Noise takes a look at how the offense can take advantage of their opponents’ defense.

For fans of the SF 49ers, the wait is finally over.

After a devastating end to the 2019 campaign, which we shall no longer speak of, the team looks to start its legendary revenge tour to return to the Super Bowl with a home clash against the upstart Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona comes to Levi’s Stadium as the most improved team — at least on paper — in the NFC West and maybe in the entire NFL. And while the Cards may still be at least a year away from real contention, that doesn’t mean they won’t make life difficult for the rest of the division in the meantime.

Last season, in fact, they pushed the 49ers to the brink, nearly coming back to win the teams’ Halloween night matchup and then jumping out to a 16-0 lead in Santa Clara two weeks later before succumbing to the superior team on a late touchdown throw-and-scamper connection from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to running back Jeff Wilson, Jr.

So this means the Cardinals already know a little bit about staying in games with the 49ers, even if they didn’t learn how to finish the job just yet.

Most of the issues stem from dealing with Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who falls into the category of players the SF 49ers aren’t great at containing: the running quarterback. While Murray had his struggles as a rookie, he showed up in big ways during his two starts against the Niners.

And the offense is where the Cardinals loaded up even more, adding All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a trade with the Houston Texans and bolstering a weak offensive line.

Where their problems still lie, however, is on defense, and given the success Garoppolo had against them in the two matchups last season (a combined 62-of-82, 76 percent completions for 741 yards, eight touchdowns, and two picks), there’s little reason to think the SF 49ers quarterback won’t continue that.

The question is just how will the Niners and head coach Kyle Shanahan choose to attack the Cardinals defense?

Let’s dive into a bit of the offensive game plan for the SF 49ers for Week 1.