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49ers - Cardinals Week 1 Matchups / Open Thread / Link Dump

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[EDITOR'S UPDATE 11:45AM] - Fantasy Update: Turf Show Times 42 - Niners Nation 30 - details in the comments

Speaking of Monday Night, the last time the 49ers were on Monday Night Football, Tim Rattay replaced an injured Jeff Garcia for the second straight week, going 21-27 for 254 and 2 TDs as the 49ers pummeled Pittsburgh 30-14.  My favorite line from the ESPN recap:

Fullback Fred Beasley also caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Rattay, who added more spice to the 49ers' quarterback controversy with a second straight near-flawless performance in place of injured Pro Bowl player Jeff Garcia.

Yea that didn't quite end up being the greatest controversy in the world.  Always fun to look back at that kind of stuff though.

49ers Secondary vs. Arizona Wide Receivers - This is certainly the most obvious matchup.  Instead of going with a specific receiver vs. Clements or Harris, it makes more sense to take each unit as a whole.  The 49ers revamped secondary will be tested from the get go as Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald come to town.  They are as talented a duo as anybody, but Matt Leinart will need his offensive line to buy him a little bit of time, which could be a problem.  And for the first time in a long time, the 49ers roll out Pro Bowl-caliber corners on both sides in Walt Harris and Nate Clements.  Nate Clements has the big contract to live up to and Walt Harris is hoping to build on last year's wildly successful season.

49ers Linebackers vs. Edgerrin James - James struggled quite a bit in his first year with the Cardinals as his numbers dropped in every category.  If he's going to begin a bounce back year, he'll have to do it against a young but talented 49ers linebacking crew.  We're all excited to see what Patrick Willis can do, but the whole LB corp will be on display as things will be different now in the 3-4.  Speaking of which...

49ers Defensive Line vs. Arizona offensive line - The regular front 3 will be on the playing field together for the first time outside of practice.  The defense struggled but considering our starting nose tackle missed all four preseason games, it's not completely surprising.  The nose tackle is an anchor that helps open gaps for the linebackers and while Sopoaga definitely showed we'll have some decent depth, we're all hoping Aubrayo Franklin is the guy for the job.  I'm more curious about what Franklin can do than almost anybody else on the field.

Mike Nolan vs. Arizona - Coach Nolan has NEVER beaten Arizona.  The last time the 49ers beat Arizona was 2004, when they swept the series 31-28 in overtime both times, for their only two wins of the season.  I definitely think it's time to change that.

Frank Gore - This isn't a matchup, but considering all the time Gore has missed, I'm anxious to see him in game situations again.  While you never want to see an injury, I like the idea of Gore sitting out the preseason in the future since he can still keep his legs fresh without playing.  Of course if he struggles out of the gate, I'd certainly change my tune on that.

Link Dump
Patrick Willis definitely acts like he's been in the league for a while...and that's a good thing.

One of the big stories is of course 49ers secondary vs. Arizona receivers.

Interesting little note here.  This is the first time since Week 5 of the 2003 season that BOTHSan Francisco and Oakland are favored.

Alex Smith vs. Matt Leinart could turn into a fun rivalry.

Any interesting little point over at Football Outsiders.  How lucky were the 49ers last year?  Interesting question heading into this season.

Your requisite piece comparing the Disease to TO.

The Chronicles piece on the secondary-wide receivers matchup.

I'm definitely excited for the pre-game ceremonieshonoring Coach Walsh.  And seeing those '81 throwbacks is gonna be sweet too.  I missed it, but apparently Coit Tower is lit up in red every night through Monday.  I'll have to check that out tonight.

Alright folks, discuss and dump away!  It's Sunday and all is well in our corner of the world.