No. 2: 49ers Linebacker Fred Warner
The probability of Colt McCoy getting the start likely forces Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury away from an all-out Air Raid offense on Sunday, instead putting more of an emphasis on the ground game with running backs James Conner and Chase Edmonds.
Edmonds, in particular, has been the primary piece in an Arizona rushing attack that has netted a league eighth-best 1,030 rush yards with him averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per carry. Interestingly enough, however, the 49ers held Edmonds to a mere 15 yards on six attempts back in Week 5, the lowest rushing total he’s had this season.
Although an alteration of the Cardinals’ offensive approach this weekend should surely indicate an uptick in Edmonds’ usage.
Replicating the success the Niners defense had against Edmonds in Week 5 is going to fall primarily on the shoulders of All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner, who has had a bit of a down year by some accounts but still leads his team in tackles with 61 on the season.
If there is a bit of a concern here, it’s that Warner’s missed-tackle percentage is up from 5.3 a year ago to 7.6 this season, although that’s still a far cry from the notable and undesirable 12.6 percent back in 2019.
Still, Warner will want to keep that number low and ensure runners like Conner and Edmonds aren’t able to get deep into the second level of San Francisco’s defense, which is allowing an average of 4.4 yards per rush attempt.