49ers have plenty of motivation vs. Jonathan Gannon, Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon
Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon / Norm Hall/GettyImages

1-2. 32. Sunday, Oct. 1. 4:25 p.m. ET. 49ers -14. Fox. 49ers-Cardinals opening. 3-0. 42

Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon already has given the 49ers plenty of bulletin board material.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan went 3-7 against the Arizona Cardinals prior to sweeping the season series in 2022, which subsequently resulted in the firing of Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Kingsbury's replacement? None other than former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, whom the Niners should know well from what transpired last January in the NFC Championship game.

Gannon and the Cardinals are fresh off a shocking upset against the Dallas Cowboys, beating them 28-16 in Week 3. And while most peg Arizona as a bottom-five team, one that'll likely only contend for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, it's also more than reasonable to assume that Gannon will want to kickstart his NFC West rivalry versus San Francisco on the correct foot.

Shanahan, meanwhile, wants some vengeance against Gannon.

49ers should hold grudge vs. Jonathan Gannon

Perhaps the 49ers haven't let go of what happened against Philly last January, and that's a topic for another time.

However, Gannon added to some of the vitriol with his pregame comments, of which both his and fans' responses are not safe for work.

Quarterback Brock Purdy's torn UCL suffered in the game thwarted any chance the Niners had to debunk Gannon's comments. But plenty of San Francisco's players, including wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, felt they had everything needed to embarrass Gannon and the Eagles anyway.

Related story: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel will love Cardinals' new head coach

Shanahan, Aiyuk, Samuel and the rest of the 49ers will get another chance against Gannon's defense this Sunday.

Sure, Gannon's early introductions with Arizona were odd and awkward, and it's been pretty easy to poke fun at him so far. That said, despite the 1-2 record, the Cardinals have a positive scoring differential of plus-1.7, and they've lost their two games by a mere seven points combined.

It sounds a lot like what Shanahan went through during his first year with the Niners back in 2017, frequently losing games by a single score.

That said, San Francisco doesn't want to give Gannon the pleasure of even "coming close" to beating the 49ers this Sunday. Preferably, Shanahan and Co. would want to embarrass Gannon and the Cardinals while putting an exclamation point on this new phase of the NFC West rivalry.

The Niners and Cards kick off on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 4:25 p.m. from Levi's Stadium.

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