Over the last two games, the 49ers have moved back to the ground and pound game plan that has provided them with great success during the Jim Harbaugh era. Part of that is due to the dominant nature of the 49ers offensive line, but part of that is due to the struggles in the passing game. The 49ers passing game has not been entirely abysmal, but rather, the team continues to struggle to find a wide receiver who can do something opposite Anquan Boldin.
As the 49ers prepare to welcome the Arizona Cardinals to town, the running game will again be a focus. The 49ers have dominated on the ground, and the Cardinals are ranking very well in stopping the run. They've faced some quality running backs, including Reggie Bush and Doug Martin, and they've done a great job shutting them down.
The 49ers will hopefully be willing to stick with their rushing attack on Sunday, but the big matchup in the passing game to watch will be Anquan Boldin vs. Patrick Peterson. Boldin has not been able to put up consistently big numbers, but he has been the 49ers leading receiver thus far. Peterson is midway through his third season, and is developing into one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.
Peterson has struggled through his career against Michael Crabtree, but he will avoid him this year (at least this first game). Instead, he gets the older veteran in Boldin. Here is what Jess from Revenge of the Birds had to say about this matchup:
There are a couple. The first is Patrick Peterson and Anquan Boldin. With Boldin representing almost half of the 49ers passing offense, this has the potential to completely take away the passing game. Will the Cards play more man or zone coverage? That will be the question. Too much zone and Q will dominate. He is too smart and too good. In man coverage, Peterson can take him away.
Anquan Boldin has acknowledged facing more double teams this year than he is used to. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals defend him. Do they simply let their top corner match up against the 49ers top receiver? I don't think this matchup necessarily makes or breaks Sunday's game, but it could be the most entertaining matchup to watch.