I'm heading back to San Francisco bright and early Sunday morning, so I'll probably have an open thread up by 11am or noon pacific time. In the meantime, here's some more Scouts Inc preview, and feel free to use this as an open thread for Saturday college football. There are some HUGE matchups including Kansas-Missouri, Virginia-Virginia Tech and West Virginia UConn. The national title game is up for grabs and anyone from Kansas to Ohio State could end up in the New Orleans come January.
Passing: The 49ers entered last week dead last in passing offense. The good news is that they did throw the ball for 212 yards versus St. Louis last week. The bad news is that it took them 42 passing attempts to amass that low total...
Arizona is an attacking front seven and Pendergast will use multiple fronts and looks. He will also bring a lot of zone-blitz pressure. The best thing you can do to an offense that is the worst in the NFL is to keep them guessing from down to down. The Cardinals' defense has seen a lot of risk-reward type of situations this season. They will risk a lot and sell out a lot this week because the 49ers just don't have any playmakers on the outside that strike fear into anyone. The 49ers average less than five-yards per pass completion and their long pass play of the year is 47 yards. Those are not numbers that inspire a defense to play on their heels and the Cardinals will be on full attack mode this week.
I think it makes all the sense in the world for the Cardinals to just bum rush Trent Dilfer and let their corners take their chances one-on-one with our receivers. Even if Dilfer gets time to throw, most of our receivers seem to be likely to drop the ball anyways.
Rushing: The Cardinals' run offense is not much better than the 49ers. Starting RB Edgerrin James has only one 100-yard game this season and that came way back in Week 2.
The 49ers are solid in the front seven and have done a good job versus the run, for the most part. Rookie ILB Patrick Willis is vying to be the defensive rookie if the year based on how many tackles he has this season. However, Willis can get out of position at times, which has resulted in some big runs this season. Arizona does not have much of a big-play element in the run game, so look for San Francisco to pretty much play the Cardinals straight up in this game with a seven-man front. The Cardinals do an excellent job of spreading the field with multiple receiver sets but San Francisco should still be able to contain James with six in the box, if the Cardinals try to attack via the run versus the 49ers' sub-packages.
I can see how Willis can get out of position as he overpursues on occasion. Thankfully he has the speed to get back into position. That is definitely one area he needs to work on, and one more reason I'm glad Mike Singletary will be around for a little while longer.
The 49ers did a good job versus the pass last week in a loss to St. Louis, but the key was getting pressure as they sacked QB Marc Bulger six times. The 49ers have to get pressure this week if they are going to slow down Arizona's pass offense. They are not good enough to defend in the backend without pressure, which would allow Warner to pick apart this defense.
The 49ers secondary looked great in Week 1 against Leinart and Co. Does anybody sense a repeat performance against Warner and Co?