4 looming questions 49ers must answer in Week 9 vs. Cardinals

Tight end George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Tight end George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

7-1. 32. Sunday, Nov. 7. 3-4. 42. 49ers -3. 4:25 p.m. ET. Fox

The 49ers and Cardinals face off for the second time this season, but the Week 9 bout will look a lot different than what happened in Week 5.

The differences between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals‘ Week 5 and Week 9 games are likely to be highly noticeable.

Hence why the age-old adage and saying goes, “it’s not necessarily who you play, it’s when you play them.”

In Week 5, head coach Kyle Shanahan was forced to start his backup quarterback, Trey Lance. In Week 9, there’s a good chance Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury will have to rely on his backup quarterback, Colt McCoy, instead of starting signal-caller Kyler Murray. And there’s also a good chance Arizona will be without star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, too:

The Niners, meanwhile, are anticipating the return of some much-needed reinforcements, including tight end George Kittle who has missed the last three games with a calf injury.

Perhaps this turns the tables in San Francisco’s favor, as the team suffered a frustrating 17-10 road loss back in Week 5.

Still, there are plenty of questions Shanahan and Co. will have to ask and answer when these two squads square off again for their second meeting of the season.

No. 4: Can 49ers get George Kittle going vs. Budda Baker?

One of Kittle’s many signature moments came against the Cardinals back on Halloween in 2019 when he scored a memorable touchdown versus safety Budda Baker despite dealing with both ribs and ankle injuries.

Baker remains one of the league’s top defensive backs, though, and Kittle has also gotten off to something of a slow start, even before being shelved on injured reserve, having just 19 receptions for 229 yards and zero touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Baker is allowing opposing quarterbacks to post a passer rating of just 89.6 when targeted, which is the lowest he’s had so far over his four-year career.

Yet if Kittle is able to provide one or two more of those signature-type moments against Baker, the odds will certainly shift more towards the 49ers’ favor.