No. 3: 49ers vs. Cardinals vs. third downs
If there’s been one glaring weakness the Niners have dealt with this season, it’s been converting on third downs.
Even with the 4-of-10 third-down conversion rate San Francisco had in the Week 8 road win over the Chicago Bears, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad is still converting only 32.5 percent of third-down attempts this season.
Consequently, things might not get much easier for the 49ers offense on Sunday, as Arizona actually boasts the NFL’s best third-down defense this season with opponents successfully converting just 30.9 percent of the time here.
It’s possible a Colt McCoy-led offense struggles to move the ball, though, meaning the Cardinals defense winds up having to be on the field a lot during the game, thereby increasing the chances for a higher Niners conversion rate.
In order for that to happen, though, McCoy and the Cardinals will have to drop from their current 44.0 third-down success rate this season, albeit those numbers were strongly influenced by Kyler Murray being at the helm.