49ers could still have problems with Cardinals top WRs

Arizona Cardinals wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins (10) and Marquise Brown (2) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images
Arizona Cardinals wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins (10) and Marquise Brown (2) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images /

5-4. ESPN. Monday, Nov. 21. 32. 42. 4-6. 49ers -8. 8:15 p.m. ET

The 49ers may be heavy favorites over the Cardinals in Week 11, but Arizona’s wide receiver tandem of DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown is a problem.

There probably aren’t too many teams out there in the NFL that can boast about either an equal wide receiver tandem like the one the San Francisco 49ers have, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

But the Niners’ Week 11 opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, are one of those teams that can boast an excellent one-two punch at this position.

Particularly with their top two receivers, Marquise Brown and the perennial All-Pro, DeAndre Hopkins.

Brown, of course, was picked up from the Baltimore Ravens last offseason, while Hopkins has already been a thorn in San Francisco’s side ever since he came over from the Houston Texans in 2020.

And while the 49ers defense is still a top-five unit heading into this Monday Night Football matchup at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, squaring off against the tandem of Hopkins and Brown is going to be problematic for defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Co.

49ers face serious threats in Cardinals WRs DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown

Brown has been a nice fit in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense, racking up a team-high 485 yards on 43 catches with three touchdowns over six games played.

However Hopkins, easily the better talent of the two, has already made a substantial impact after being suspended earlier this season, posting 396 yards and two touchdowns over the last four games, and he went over the 100-yard plateau in two of those games and was just 2 yards shy of doing so in Week 10 against the Los Angeles Rams.

And that was with backup quarterback Colt McCoy at the helm, not Kyler Murray, who still might be absent for Week 11 versus the Niners because of a hamstring injury.

It would be one thing if San Franciso had to worry about one top-level wide receiver, but Arizona is bringing two to the fray.

Are 49ers equipped to defend DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown?

Had this matchup occurred earlier in the season, the 49ers may have been lucky enough to face off against the Cardinals when Hopkins was suspended.

Yet the Niners also would have had cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, whose season-ending ACL tear in Week 5 has left a notable void in the secondary opposite No. 1 corner Charvarius Ward.

Ward has been excellent, yes, holding opposing cornerbacks to a 60.2 passer rating on the year. But, even if Ward shadows the bigger talent Arizona has, Hopkins, San Francisco might be hard-pressed to find a worthy option to cover Brown.

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Brown, the speedster, would create all kinds of downfield problems for 49ers second-year cornerback Deommodore Lenoir, who has frequently been featured on the boundary but lacks the straight-line speed to keep up with faster wideouts. Fellow second-year cornerback Ambry Thomas has better speed, yes, but he’s been relegated to the back end of the depth chart because of coverage gaffes that stemmed from training camp and the preseason.

Regardless, the Niners don’t have a lot of likable answers to defend against both of Arizona’s top receivers, and that’ll potentially be an X-factor working against San Francisco when these two teams square off on Monday Night Football from Mexico City.

Next. Bold predictions for 49ers game vs. Cardinals on Monday night. dark