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2015 49ers' Opponents: Reviewing the Arizona Cardinals

We take a look at the Arizona Cardinals in anticipation of the coming season.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

If they weren't division rivals, I think I would feel bad for the Cardinals. No team has more of a right to complain about injuries sinking their season than the Arizona Cardinals - not after they had to literally start Ryan Lindley on purpose for a playoff game.

A quick review: the Cardinals started the season incredibly strong, winning game after game. They were 9-1 at one point and looked like shoe-ins for the first seed in the NFC. And, this was happening with the help of their starting QB Carson Palmer and their back up QB Drew Stanton. The team is stacked - particularly on defense - and the coaching is excellent. They seemed able to surmount any injury.

But when both Palmer and Stanton went down for the season along with RB Andre Ellington, the season was lost. They still made the playoffs on the merit of their first few games, but were quickly booted. In the wildcard round, the Panthers knocked them out of the game. The score was 27-16. The Cardinals went 11-5, which was good enough for second place in the NFC West.

So far, the Cardinals have had a busy offseason. They cut a few players early on (most notably, Darnell Dockett, which resulted in the 49ers bring in the division rival). They have also signed C A.Q. Shipley, DE/DT Cory Redding, DE/OLB LaMarr Woodley, DE/DT Corey Peters, ILB Sean Weatherspoon, and - notably for 49ers fans - G Mike Iupati. They also restructured Carson Palmer's contract, clearing $7.1 million in cap space.

Free Agency (Courtesy of

Unrestricted Free Agents: Antonio Cromartie, CB; John Abraham, OLB; Dan Williams, DT; Rob Housler, TE; Sam Acho, OLB; Darnell Dockett, DT; Tommy Kelly, DT; Jonathan Dwyer, RB; Larry Foote, ILB; Marcus Benard, OLB; Chris Clemons, S.

Restricted Free Agents: Ryan Lindley, QB.

Given how active the Cardinals have been over the last couple of weeks, it's difficult to evaluate how much of an impact their leaving free agents will have. Dockett was obviously a cap casualty - though their defense moved along fine when he went down with an injury. Cromartie is leaving Arizona for the Jets; given how well he played for the Cardinals before sustaining an injury, Cards fans might be worried that he will leave big shoes to fill.

Potential Needs:

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinals' biggest weakness was their pass rush. Signing LaMarr Woodley is an obvious attempt to shore up this problem, but look for the Cardinals to do even more. Besides the issue of filling Cromartie's spot on the defense, look for the Cardinals to also bring in some safety depth. Rashad Johnson could use some competition.

On offense, the Cardinals need their QB and RB to stay healthy. They can actually do something about the latter. Ellington is a good player, but some sort of change of pace back to alleviate the burden of being a primary back would be helpful for Ellington's health.