The 49ers host the Cardinals in Week 9, and it’s safe to say these three X-factors will have a lot to say about the game’s final outcome.
For starters, and perhaps the biggest kicker, both teams are likely going to field entirely different starting quarterbacks, the Cardinals prompted to go with Colt McCoy over the injured Kyler Murray, while the Niners will have Jimmy Garoppolo available instead of having to thrust Trey Lance into the fray.
Murray could still play, yes. But the fact he hasn’t practiced at all this week suggests McCoy will be the player upon whom head coach Kliff Kingsbury relies.
If so, it’s important to note the 35-year-old journeyman McCoy hasn’t tossed a regular-season pass this year and hasn’t started since 2020 when he was with the New York Giants.
That’s one potential X-factor right there. In contrast to Week 5, it’ll be San Francisco fielding its starting quarterback, while Arizona has to rely on its backup. A proverbial “turning of the tables,” so to speak.
Of further interest to the 49ers, tight end George Kittle is poised to return from a three-game absence on injured reserve, adding yet one more potential X-factor to Sunday’s outcome.
There are others, however, that could ultimately impact which team ends up seizing this critical NFC West bout.
Let’s take a look at three such X-factors.